Modern-day buyers tune out brand messages, making earned media imperative. But with so many brands pitching traditional outlets, trade publications, highly trafficked blogs and influential social media voices, how can you stand out?
A well-crafted pitch does wonders, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. Below, find 71 ways to unlevel the playing field and secure more coverage. We have broken these tactics into two categories, so you can meet your immediate and future coverage needs.
Not every action will deliver media coverage immediately…or is meant to. You need to identify your top reporters, build relationships with influencers and share information to get on their radars. When the time comes, they’ll pick your familiar voice from the crowd clamoring for their attention.
Media is fast-paced, making real-time engagement and pitching a necessary component of gaining coverage. When something newsworthy related to your brand occurs, you should be ready to act with a concise pitch or by providing your brand’s perspective to an evolving piece of news.
Connect with Journalists on Social
Invest for the Future:
- Engage with influencers on social to build rapport. This includes leaving insightful comments on their work, engaging in social conversations and “liking” their posts. The key is to be genuine and add value; reporters will smell pandering a mile away.
- Connect on LinkedIn. When requesting a connection, replace the automated messaging with a few sentences about their recent work.
- Use a media database to create a list of journalists to target. Media databases make it quick and easy to identify and engage with influencers related to your brand. Focus your attention on the 20 percent of the list you most want to work with, and devote 80 percent of your efforts to them, says pitching expert Michael Smart.
- Make a public media list. If you recognize reporters as a go-to purveyor of information related to your industry on your blog or with a Twitter list, you’ll grab their attention and be remembered when they need a source.
- Follow targeted reporters on Twitter.
- Follow media outlets on Facebook. A follow will never result in coverage by itself, but it will allow you to stay current on the topics and stories the publication is creating content around. This can inform your content and pitching strategies.
- Share links to reporters’ stories with your audience. Attribute links and share your own thoughts to stand out from others talking about the same story on social.
- Open Ian Greenleigh’s “Social Media Side Door.” The side door in this case is using Facebook ads to reach reporters. These targeted communications will put your brand on reporters’ radars and build recognition for when you pitch them.
- Build word-of-mouth publicity on social. Motivate your audience to talk about your brand by creating memorable experiences, such as providing outstanding customer service or announcing the launch of a new product in a unique way. The buzz will establish you as a leader in your field and attract journalists to your brand.
- Update your influencer list regularly. Use an accurate media database to update contact information. Filter influencers by topics of interest, social networks and current, future and past efforts.
- Evaluate your bio. Include interesting, useful information to increase the chances of a reporter following you based solely on your profile.
- Track journalism-related hashtags like #journchat and #URGHARO. Reporters may be looking for a source to help with their story. If you or someone else in your organization has knowledge that matches their need, quickly respond to their inquiry.
- Keep track of trending topics on Twitter. If a story is related to your brand or industry, contact reporters to share your perspective and expertise.
- Avoid sending mass tweets. Approach social pitching like email subject lines — personalization is key.
- Write short direct messages. Though Twitter removed the character limit on DMs, that doesn’t mean journalists want lengthy pitches. Respect this medium with concise communication. If necessary, suggest moving your conversation to email or the phone.
- Update your status with a link to your story. Promoting your news to your network could result in coverage without having to send a pitch. Publications often will take an existing story and put their own spin on it.
- Promote your coverage. Coverage isn’t always a one-off event. Spread the word about your coverage. It could snowball into more publicity from smaller, larger or niche outlets.
- Tweet facts, statistics or quotes from your story. Intriguing blurbs may appeal to a reporter looking for an angle on a similar story. The fact you shared the information and another publication has validated you as a source will only make you look more attractive.
- Acknowledge those who promote your brand. Doing so creates a second round of buzz and keeps your brand’s name and actions present on timelines.
- Promote your story with hashtags. Research to determine which word or phrase works best. Including a hashtag in your tweets or posts puts you on the radar of those following that trend.
Produce Interesting Content
- Blog often. Consistently create unique, timely and informative content to position your brand as a thought leader and go-to source.
- Write white papers. Showcase your industry knowledge to position yourself as an expert – one that reporters may want to consult for a story.
- Write a book or e-book.
- Start an e-mail newsletter. Invite journalists to subscribe. If they’re consistently looking at your content, they’ll remember your brand when it’s time to write a story.
- Look for guest blogging opportunities. Add to your credibility by showcasing your expertise on more platforms than your owned channels.
- Produce buzzworthy content. If you can get a lot of shares and discussion around a piece of content, reporters will follow the crowd. Keep in mind that the most shareable content is often visuals, such as charts, infographics or video.
- Look to pop culture for content ideas. Consider turning a current event or hot trend into a report, article or blog post to attract attention. This will also give you an interesting story to pitch to reporters.
- Deliver proprietary data. Examine data over time to identify industry trends. Present your statistics and insights in a compelling way to persuade reporters to use the information. Remember, reporters love exclusives.
- Conduct surveys and opinion polls on trending topics. The resulting data may provide reporters a story idea or angle. Even if you receive only a mention in this story, the reporter will remember you as a solid source.
- Create visual content. Allowing reporters to visualize your story with videos, infographics and other images will help you stand out from a mass of other pitches. It also makes their lives easier if they don’t have to source images themselves.
- Use analytics and metrics. Let data help you determine what topics need more coverage. You can either pitch these topics, provide multimedia to specific reporters or create compelling content that will attract reporters’ attention.
Network and Showcase at Events
- Connect with reporters at public events. Break from traditional elevator pitches. A reporter will be more likely to remember your brand as they chow down on that salad nicoise you recommended, than if you stick purely to business.
- Invite journalists to events. Highlight topics or speakers they would find most interesting to personalize your invitation.
- Speak at an event. Establish your thought leadership, credibility and reputation within your industry.
- Sponsor a local event that appeals to your surrounding community. Make a mark on those around you to build your reputation and strengthen word-of-mouth publicity.
- Attend a trade show. Having a booth, announcing a product update or simply mingling will help keep your brand top of mind with industry reporters.
- Hold a conference. Focus on emerging trends, thought leadership and special unveilings to attract reporters who want to break stories and stay on the cutting edge.
- Send a media advisory. In the weeks leading up to an event, send a brief that gives reporters an idea of what they could write about should they attend.
- Give back to the community. Corporate social responsibility is a great way to generate coverage, but make sure the action is genuine, sustainable and matches your company mission. For example, Cisco started Greenlight for Girls, a program designed to inspire girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
- Attend local events like town halls, local trials or school board meetings. Your company’s opinion could be just the angle reporters need to complete an article.
- Announce and promote conference panelists. Build interest and attract attention with video meet-and-greets.
Remember Traditional Pitching Tactics
Invest for the Future:
- Thank reporters for past coverage. Show appreciation and keep your brand top of mind for future opportunities.
- Use your media database. Find relevant influencers, search in-depth profiles to learn their contact preferences and personal pet peeves, study their work and keep track of who you’re targeting.
- Search editorial calendars. Mark down the dates of upcoming deadlines to prepare for future pitching opportunities, take advantage of lead times and stay on top of niche topics. Cision’s media database, for example, provides this information to users.
- Do A/B tests. Experiment with how you word your pitches, the topics you suggest, when you send them and more to see what works best.
- Invite reporters out for coffee. Discuss topics they’re currently covering, how they develop their stories, etc. Use this opportunity to listen, not pitch.
- Track reporters and media outlets pitched through HARO. Look for patterns in source requests or which outlets you pitch most often to help prepare for the next opportunity.
- Look at previous relationships to shape future ones. Think about what you learned to determine how to build similar success, or reshape tactics for what strategies or outreach efforts didn’t work.
- Research pitching policies. Find out whether or not your brand’s story will be accepted by your targeted outlet ahead of time. For example, some may accept event listings but not books for review.
- Pitch a reporter via email. According to Cision’s “2015 Global Social Journalism Study,” 81 percent of journalists still prefer email pitches. Customize your subject line, focus on the recipient first, summarize your story in less than two paragraphs and link to downloadable content.
- Pitch by phone. With less competition, the chances of reaching a reporter increases. But be prepared to pitch well. Reporters can be skeptical of phone pitches, so have a concise, compelling story to tell.
- Send a pitch the old-fashioned way: snail mail. With so many people pitching via email, going the slow route may be beneficial. Be sure to follow up with an email after to provide more information and resources for the reporter’s story.
- Alert a reporter to breaking news. Provide your take on the story and offer to be a source.
- Piggyback on reporters’ stories. Suggest new angles or follow-up ideas for which your brand has a unique perspective. You can also end up in a reporter’s good graces by suggesting a story that won’t pertain to your brand.
- Contextualize your news. Put the influencer’s audience first when submitting story ideas, rather than traditional press releases.
- Personalize your pitch. The more specific you get with your pitch, the more the influencer will see you’ve done your homework and perceive you as a beneficial partner.
- Send an unconventional pitch. Reporters are sick of reading generic pitches. Help your brand stand out with a poem, limerick or jingle.
- Follow up on your pitches. But don’t just ask if the reporter received your email. Explain why your story is valuable and reiterate the most compelling information. Don’t hound the reporter. One follow-up is plenty.
- Sign up for HARO source requests. Monitor the three daily HARO emails and respond quickly to urgent source requests. Avoid attachments and address all the reporter’s requirements in 75 words or less for the best chances of success.
- Write a press release. Include a timely news announcement, links to keywords and contact information for media inquiries. Get to the point quickly and promote your news across social channels.
- Leverage recent publicity. Announce recent media coverage by promoting on social, publishing a press release (if applicable) and highlighting the news on your website. Journalists will take note if others are already talking about your brand.
Highlight Your Brand
Invest for the Future:
- Create a digital newsroom to establish credibility. Link to past coverage and include your contact information to help journalists get in touch with you easily.
- Apply for awards. Build your brand’s reputation. With accolades and accomplishments tied to your brand’s name, you’ll stand out and gain additional recognition.
- Showcase your unique work-life culture. Highlight what your company is doing differently, such as offering unlimited vacation hours or extensive parental leave.
- Showcase success stories. Work with sales to interview customers about how you’ve improved their lives.
- Offer an exclusive look. Let industry reporters demo a product or service before it’s launched to the public.
- Send new products to prominent bloggers, social personalities or forum personalities. Provide the first-glance opportunity, but allow them to create the type of content they want about your new offerings.
- Use a stunt. The publicity stunt may be as old as time, but they are still effective…when done right. The right strategy and planning could result in immense media coverage from traditional and online sources. Remember Samsung’s Oscars selfie with Ellen DeGeneres?
- Give something away. Provide a service that an outlet can’t do for itself. Do you know why Goodyear blimps appear at every major sporting event? The company trades its aerial footage for an on-air mention and unpaid television shots.
- Celebrate an anniversary. Include a piece of newsworthy information along with your announcement. For example, you will want to mention how this is the first time four generations have worked together at your family-owned company.
- Announce major company news. You will always want to highlight big company news, such as an acquisition or the introduction of a new service, but be sure to target the right outlets.