Ten Essentials for Courting the Media

LeeJordanFlickr Mike at Obsidian Launch did a great post this month on the importance of being a Media Whore. Much as we’d all love to believe that other people are dying to know what we’re up to, that’s just not the case is it? Unless you are a Media Darling like those YouTube guys, you will have to sell yourself. Here are ten ways to get started.  

  1. Tell a story.
    What is unique to you and your business that would make a great human interest piece? Make sure you figure out why the reporter would care about your story and what makes it relevant to their audience. Get a statistic that represents your story and then tie it in with a larger segment of the audience – bonus if it’s a hot topic.
  2. Make personal contact.
    Your press releases will be much better received if the media personality is expecting it. Work your network to find connections with media people and then pick up the phone. The more personal relationships you create, the better.
  3. Send out press releases.
    Once you create a boilerplate message, you’ll be pumping out attention getting press releases in minutes. A mid-market news anchor told me recently to send press releases directly to the personality whose program you’re targeting – not the news room. She also said the squeaky wheel gets the oil. So keep sending, and emailing, and calling.
  4. Build a list.
    Who might cover you? Who should? Create a list and a process for contacting these people – over and over again. Make it a habit to take one action every day.
  5. Know the buzz words.
    You probably know what’s going on in your business, but keep up with news coverage in other industries enough to know the trends and hot button words and topics. This is crucial to help you tie your story to a broader concern (See #1).
  6. Learn about editorial calendars.
    You may have a great story, but if you send it at the wrong time, chances are low that anyone’s going to hold onto it. Newspapers can respond quickly, but lead time for television and radio is 2-3 weeks and magazines need 6 – 8 weeks notice. Plan accordingly.
  7. Join your local chamber of commerce.
    Ask if you can write a short item to run in their newsletter. Then write (or hire someone to write) something  that’s more than a thinly veiled advertisement.
  8. Put on a class.
    You’re an expert in something. Share your knowledge. You’ll get more attendance if you team up with others who complement your business. You may be able to get the venue to promote you as well.
  9. Sponsor a contest.
    Alert the press to the contest AND when you choose the winners. Make it memorable and relevant to the audience.
  10. Align with a charity.
    Media are often eager to promote charitable events in the community. Pick a cause and stick with it.

The bottom line is that people in the media have to fill their time with interesting stories. When you understand their business and make it easier for them to do their jobs, you earn a friend and valuable contact. Now get out there and DO something!