As a startup, small business, or even a marketing department in a large company, one of the biggest marketing hurdles you’ll encounter is getting media attention.
If your business fails to gain media coverage, it’s difficult to build credibility, awareness, and exposure. These are the cornerstones of PR and they’re the vital foundations that businesses need to lay down from day dot.
But it can be difficult to get media exposure using traditional PR methods if you’re a startup or a small business. Therefore, you need to be a bit more creative when thinking about how to get free press for your small business.
That’s why we’ve put this guide together. It provides you with the tools you need to win the media coverage you deserve. This includes:
Media coverage (otherwise known as press coverage), essentially means publicity. However, in the world of PR, we refer to press coverage as ‘earned media’.
Considering that, I suppose the better question is, ‘what is earned media?’
Well, after all is said and done, winning earned media is the end goal of all PR tactics.
It’s the practice of building up your company’s reputation through press coverage in third-party media publications.
This is not to be mistaken with owned media, which refers to any content that you publish on your own channels, such as your website.
I know what you must be thinking:
“You’ve already mentioned earned media and owned media… Now there’s a third one?’
Don’t worry, here’s a handy infographic to differentiate between the three:
Earned media and owned media are both marketing tactics that achieve growth organically. Paid media, meanwhile, is advertising that is, well, directly paid for.
While paid media can be great for driving more traffic to your site, it’s reach and effectiveness can be limited.
So while paid media can be very effective at driving traffic to your website, if you haven’t built sufficient trust with your target market, you’ll struggle to convert them. Customers want brands they can trust before they’re willing to part with their cash.
Media coverage is a great way to build that trust with your target market. After all, it’s not what you say about yourself that’s important, it’s what others say. That’s why a well-balanced marketing strategy should invest in each of these media channels for optimal results.
It’s difficult to count the benefits of earned media on one hand. But we’re going to try here:
Here’s a deeper dive into how earned media achieves these benefits:
You’re probably thinking…
‘This is all fine and dandy, but the question of how to get publicity for your business still needs to be answered’
Steady on! We’re getting to that now! So here’s how to get media coverage for your startup or business, in 7 simple steps.
Before you start wondering how to get press, you need to get your house in order.
What do we mean by that?
I’m referring to your owned media.
This means making sure your internal messaging, branding, and in-house content is up to scratch. You may think it’s odd that a guide on how to win press coverage is focusing on the merits of owned media. But, trust us. It’s worth your while.
Think of it this way, if you’re pitching to journalists, they’re going to check out your site before deciding whether or not to write about you. If your website’s lacking in detail or just looks a bit amateur, they’re not going to be interested in giving you any media coverage.
Or let’s say you do manage to bag some press coverage. This then leads to an increase in referral traffic to your website. However, these increased users won’t generate more leads or sales if your website and branding reads like a 14-year-old’s Bebo page (a reference for the kids)
Therefore, the first stage on your journey is to go through your owned media content and make sure it conveys:
Fail to plan, plan to fail. Yes, this is a tired old cliche we’ve heard time and time again. However, in the realms of PR, it couldn’t be truer.
The press coverage you win needs to be relevant to your business. It’s a waste of resources winning earned media that isn’t aimed at your target audience. Therefore, it’s essential you research where and how you want to win earned media.
We’ve written a comprehensive guide on finding relevant journalists within your industry. Here’s a quick summary of this. Firstly, identify the most relevant publications:
Once you’ve got your list of publications, you then want to identify the most relevant journalists at these publications:
Let’s start off by defining what media monitoring is.
Media monitoring is where you listen to what others are saying about your brand, your competitors, your industry, and any other subject that is of importance to your business.
Here are some tools you can use to media monitor:
Media monitoring is quite simple when you break it down. Simply decide what you want to monitor, and then use the most suitable media monitoring tools.
For example, here at Publicize, we monitor our own brand, our competitors’ brands, and a bunch of industry terms such as:
If you’re scratching your head and wondering how to get earned media, this is the section for you.
There are a plethora of different types of earned media wins you can go after.
Here are some of the said tactics you can use to win media coverage:
Do you have a checklist? If not, start one. However, make sure that the earned media wins you’re going after are realistic.
When it comes to setting goals for winning media coverage, make sure you set smart goals:
SMART goals are:
The wrong kind of goal is to ‘win more earned media’. A smart goal would be ‘get two guest articles published in two different high-ranking industry-related publications by the end of the month’.
PR professionals outnumber journalists 6 to 1 and, guess what, all of them are chasing earned media results for their clients.
The competition within any industry for earned media is fierce. Therefore, your chances of winning press coverage increase tenfold if you start making friends with journalists. And there is no time like the present!
In fact, you’d ideally want to make your first contact with a journalist a couple of months before you pitch to them.
Here are some ways you can break the ice with the press:
This is when the relationships you’ve established with the press really come in handy. Pitching to journalists is also one of the most important stages when trying to win earned media.
Why is that?
The editor or journalist you’re pitching to is the gatekeeper between you winning press coverage or being ignored. Editors are inundated with requests every day. You and your employees may think that your news, event or guest article idea is the bee’s knees.
However, I’ve got some news for you:
Journalists do not care about your business, startup or product.
I know it’s hard to hear but the sooner you realize that the more serious you’ll take the pitching stage. So always have in the back of your mind the PR mantra that “it’s a journalist’s job to tell stories, not promote products”.
As I just mentioned, the press is nonplussed about your startup. However, what they do care about is being pitched something newsworthy.
Think of it this way, telling a journalist, ‘we’re having an event’ is not newsworthy. However, ‘the event we’re hosting is the first tech startup network event in the city’ sounds more interesting.
This is called a hook (or an angle). It’s something that grabs the reader and makes them want to read on.
Here are some different angles you can take in your pitch:
Probably the most important thing to remember when it comes to pitching etiquette is that your pitches are personal. This image below goes into more detail:
However, here are a couple of more rules of thumb when it comes to press etiquette:
Well done if you’ve successfully won some media coverage for your business.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s time to put your feet up.
There are still a few things you can do while ‘running your victory lap’:
Winning the right kind of press coverage can make or break a company. However, whatever you do, you cannot neglect the importance of exposure.
A well-researched earned media strategy also directly benefits your SEO and social proof. All of these help your business grow.
Pretty great, right?
We hope we’ve converted you to the church of earned media and we’re sure it’ll help you gather a new audience that worships your startup in no time. And now you know how to get press coverage, there’s nothing stopping you from getting free publicity for your business.
Interested in finding out more about how we can design a PR strategy to support your business goals? Send us a note using the below form and our PR specialist will be in touch to arrange a chat.