Getting Media Coverage: 7 Best Practices That Really Work

Companies of all types and sizes understand that media coverage can be a great way to get their names in front of audiences of all types. Today’s massive media market means ample opportunity to do just that. And, the good news these days is that you don’t need to hire an expensive PR firm or publicist to get the exposure you’re looking for (although we do offer those services at a very reasonable rate). You may also be interested in our book, 21st Century Secrets to Effective PR, which offers our own tips as well as tips and best practices from many other PR practitioners.

We use Help a Reporter Out (or HARO) and ProfNet to learn about the stories that reporters are working on and we often achieve coverage for our own company as well as for our clients through these channels. They’ve really become a go-to resource for those in the industry, even large PR firms know that this is the place to go to connect with journalists who are working on specific stories and looking for input.
I also post my own queries on these sites when working on articles, reports or other projects that require expert input from third-party sources. That provides me with what has been a useful perspective from both sides of the equation: as a journalist seeking input and as a PR person seeking coverage. I write and speak about the topic often.

Best Practices for Responding to HARO and ProfNet Queries

Here are some best practice tips for responding to HARO or ProfNet queries based on our own success in gaining exposure as well as on experiences with receiving queries from a wide range of sources, some that work but, unfortunately, many that don’t. When responding to these queries:

Make sure that you or your source truly are a good fit for the query and that you have the expertise requested.

You probably know the old saying, “you never get a second chance to make a good impression.” That’s certainly true here. Fool me once…

Read the query and follow the instructions provided.

If you don’t, your response is highly likely to be relegated to the reporter’s trash bin. Most reporters (and we know this from our own personal experience) receive literally dozens of responses to the queries they post. Those that don’t provide what they asked for are easily overlooked.

Provide a detailed and thorough response.

Many journalists and reporters will not follow up with you to conduct an interview but may very well use excerpts from the response you submit. The more detail you can provide the better.

On the flip side of this, never simply respond with something like: “I have a great source for you,” or “Who are you writing this for?”

Again, chances are the journalists and reporters posting these queries will receive dozens of responses. They do not have the time to follow up with those who don’t provide the detail requested. You can stand out by offering a detailed and thorough response that is directly aligned with their topic and request. Don’t ask them if you can send additional information, just send it!

Don’t continue to badger or follow up with the reporter.

If your input is a good fit, they’ll let you know. Again, they’re dealing with a large number of emails every day; filling their email boxes with repetitive posts and queries will not endear you to them. Likewise sending messages saying “I wanted to get back to the top of your email feed.” Don’t do it.

Be respectful of their time.

If an interview is requested and scheduled, cancel or reschedule only when absolutely necessary. There’s nothing more frustrating than reaching out at a scheduled time to a source who volunteered their input only to find them unavailable.

Avoid sales pitches or “bait and switch” tactics.

If you’ve agreed to an interview on a topic the source has outlined, don’t attempt to talk about something else once you connect. Related to this, avoid blatant sales pitches or hucksterism in your responses. The more you’re able to provide expert, credible input that provides value to the reporter’s audience, the more likely you are to see your input used in the final piece.

If you do a good job following these tips you’ll develop a great reputation with journalists and reporters covering the topics of your, or your sources’, expertise. Once you do, it’s highly likely that they will reach out to you directly when they’re working on stories on topics you’ve proven you can reliably address.

You can see the coverage we’ve received using these strategies under the “In The Media” section at the bottom left-hand side of our website.

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We work with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content. Whether on- or offline, or both, we’ll help you achieve desired results.

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

Recommended Reading

21st Century Secrets to Effective PR: Tips and Best Practices for Gaining Media Exposure

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