By Abhishek Talreja
Richard Branson once said: “A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.” In other words, press coverage is priceless, but where do you start? To find out more, we asked 16 marketing experts and entrepreneurs to share interesting and cost-effective ways to get media coverage.
1. Develop a proactive PR strategy
“Proactive pitching is essential—the best way to do this is to find trends company leaders can tie into or speak on. Is the company owned by a mom who balances work and family life? Does the company have a diverse and fun culture? Does the company offer perks and benefits outside of the norm? Those are trends that don’t tie to news but are newsworthy.
“Remember: New developments equals news, something that journalists want to hear about most often. When you have new developments, such as a key new hire on your leadership team, or new customer, new technology, new product, they want to see that there’s momentum with your company and that you’re growing. Share those announcements with the press.
“Build a list of people who cover your industry and read their coverage often so you can share your news with them and tie it back to relevant stuff they’ve been talking about. Even if they don’t cover it the first time around, know that thoughtful PR is about relationship building, and sometimes it takes time to earn coverage.
“Another way to gain coverage is to work with journalists to generate great story ideas and give them access to executives ANYTIME they need commentary on a news or talk about the ‘state of your industry.’ It takes time to build relationships and persistence to make sure all the bases are covered.”—Nicole Rodrigues, CEO and Founder, NRPR Group
2. Use free services such as HARO and SourceBottle
“A terrific technique is to use free services such as HARO and SourceBottle. Business owners and marketers can reach out to outlets that are looking for quotes on industry-specific topics. If your answer is good enough, you’ll get free media coverage and a link back to your website. It’s a win-win situation for both the media and your business.”—Jakub Kliszczak, Marketing Specialist, CrazyCall
3. Create a media event
“One of my clients at my prior agency was a multi-million-dollar resort in Central Florida and the largest development for the hospitality brand to date. Working alongside the resort’s development team, I put together a media event for local influencers and outlets, giving them a behind-the-scenes look at the first four fully-furnished complete vacation homes and the hotel (which was under construction). More than 30 attendees turned up for the festive event which resulted in a total of 50 editorial and social media placements, equaling 31M+ impressions and an unprecedented increase from 700 daily website visits to 30,892. The event went on to win an HSMAI Adrian Award in the public relations special events category.”—Veronica Figueroa, Public Relations Strategist, Laughing Samurai
4. Show off your expertise
“Follow the rules, especially for HARO pitches. Make sure you qualify before responding. When you respond, make sure you answer the question(s). A good way to start is to demonstrate your credibility. I always open a pitch with my relevant credentials and follow with related links that further illustrate thought leadership and credibility. Speak inside and outside your industry on topics of expertise to further enhance credibility. I have averaged 30 annual speaking gigs, in the last 15 years, for example.”—Kent Lewis, President and Founder, Anvil
5. Serve your local community
“Offer your product or service for free to deprived members of a local community. As a driving school, we offer free driving lessons to students and the unemployed in the region. This strategy has helped us generate valuable media coverage, earning us a reputation among our audience. The press coverage also has helped us get hundreds of paying customers.”—Amara Ukaigwe, CEO, Book Learn Pass
6. Organize a local event
“One way to get free media coverage is to organize a local event and submit it as a press release to local news outlets. For example, you might collaborate with a handful of other like-minded businesses in your area. If you’re a real estate professional, you might reach out to other real estate-related companies, general contractors, interior designers, etc. and collaborate with them on creating a local event. The event could be anything from a free educational seminar (hosted at a local venue) to a non-profit drive, walk, or event.
“Once you put the event together, create a page on your website highlighting the businesses that will be involved (as guest educators/speakers, or sponsors of the charity event), what the event will entail, etc. After you have the page created for the event, you can submit a press release about it to local news outlets. If they ask for more information, point them to your web page.”—Blaine Dartez, Owner, AwesomeWholesalerLLC
7. Stand out from the crowd
“I discovered early on that in a saturated startup space, it’s crucial to make a splash. With a little creativity, I managed to land myself a number of large news outlets. One of my favorite stories is from Dublin’s Web Summit when over 800 startups were exhibiting (90% of them were men) and I decided to stand out by wearing ‘angel wings’ throughout the conference (I have a dating business). When I was checking out of my hotel, I looked down at Judi Dench on the cover of the The Irish Times, and there I was right next to her (me on my laptop with my angel wings); inside there was another 1/4-page picture mentioning my business. Ireland knew about Cheekd.”—Lori Cheek, Founder and CEO, Cheekd
8. Hack current news and trends
“Newsjacking is a way to take advantage of news and current affairs to promote a business. For example, when Beyoncé and Jay-Z file trademark applications over song lyrics, slogans, or even their babies’ names, intellectual property attorneys get an opportunity to get coverage by sharing their expertise. In the wake of a natural disaster—let’s say, a hurricane or an earthquake—environmental consultants lead the discussion.”—Jacqueline (Jaci) Burns, Chief Marketing Officer, Market Expertise
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9. Share a personal story
“The narrative of how your brand came to be or where a founder got her inspiration is more likely to catch an editor’s attention. Wouldn’t it be interesting if your friend told you how she recovered from a debilitating injury that inspired her to train for a marathon? Think on these lines when you’re working out a way to tell the story of your business.”—Meghan Powers, Vice President, Pace Public Relations
10. Offer a behind-the-scenes look
“We traveled to our factory in Italy and interviewed the production staff—some of them have been working in the industry for over 40 years and had great stories to tell. We then shared the images and anecdotes with the press as an exclusive behind-the-scenes look of a luxury fashion brand. The media loved it. Give the journalists everything they need, including a Dropbox link with images, company logo, and other assets that go with the story.”—Nicole Rohde, International PR Manager, Maxwell-Scott
11. Send out freebies
“Journalists and influencers, like average people, love the opportunity to receive products or free merchandise (for review) with no strings attached. At our agency, we build media lists of relevant journalists and influencers who match our client’s mission and voice before sending them a PR kit of samples. The key here is to conduct a thorough research about what products a journalist might be interested to cover. With these techniques, we’ve been able to get our clients into many outlets including Cosmopolitan, Allure, Elle, etc.”—Belle Zhang, Public Relations Director, BLND Public Relations
12. Use the power of social media
“Twitter is a great tool for getting media coverage. For example, I own a financial publishing site, so I follow and interact with journalists covering financial topics. Earlier this year, the strategy helped me get coverage in CNBC.
“Set up a professional-looking Twitter profile—this means mentioning your expertise in your bio, placing a link to your website in your profile, and uploading a professional headshot as your profile picture. Look for the names of journalists who write about your niche and follow them on Twitter. Interact with them, but of course, don’t overdo it; you don’t want to come off as desperate.
“Keep your interactions on Twitter professional. Don’t get involved in political debates or Twitter feuds. Remember that your Twitter history is on display for anyone to see, and you wouldn’t want to do anything that would dissuade a journalist from using you as a source.”—Logan Allec, Founder, Money Done Right
13. Conduct your own original research
“Publishing original research is a terrific way to display deep expertise. For instance, we produced in-depth surveys and reports related to website development and hosting costs to help businesses make informed decisions. The strategy helped us earn hundreds of mentions in top-tier publications.”—Jerry Low, Founder, Web Hosting Secret Revealed (WHSR)
14. Create valuable content
“I hold a Guinness Record for being interviewed the most times in 24 hours on 112 different radio interviews. Good news: Media outlets need your help. How can you get their attention? You can write a subject line that looks like a finished headline. This not only gets your email opened but also gets a journalist thinking about how to use you. Add bullet points of what you’d say in the interview. Your task is to make the life of a journalist easier—give them a story and they’ll cover you!”—Jess Todtfeld, Founder, Success In Media
15. Research editorial calendars and create video pitches
“This is a PR “best practice” but many outside the industry are not aware of it. Visit niche sites and navigate their editorial calendars. With this information, you can reach out to them with time-relevant company news and pitches.
We’ve had some success with delivering quick video pitches. The medium helps cut through the noise. Production value does not have to be high: use a cell phone and record a quick message. The audio and visual components can help inject emotion and establish a rapport.”—Elizabeth Cooper, Director of Marketing, KNB Communications
16. Use guerrilla marketing tactics
“Consumer engagement with street teams, can humanize a brand, create a memorable experience, and boost brand recognition. For instance, some marketers grab the public’s attention through games, mascots, or by getting them to take pictures. This is especially important in the age of social media where one picture of your public guerrilla campaign can go viral in a matter of minutes. Humor is another great way to boost brand recognition. A funny stunt brings people together and forges social bonds helping fetch visibility and coverage.”—Nate Masterson, CMO, Maple Holistics
About the Author
Post by: Abhishek Talreja
Abhishek Talreja is a passionate writer and an experienced content marketing expert. He has contributed to top marketing blogs and works with international companies to help them earn online visibility and reputation.
He is the founder of Prolific Content Marketing.
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