Image of the Wall Street Journal representing good media coverage
6th August 2019
Signal Editors

How to get the best media coverage

Making sure you get the best media coverage, at the right time, is both an art and a science. It’s a difficult undertaking for any public relations (PR) professional. But it is invaluable for a business to grow brand awareness and build reputation. Attention from prominent journalists will create noise around you. But it is media coverage in respected publications that will really elevate your brand.

There are various reasons why it’s so important to get media coverage for your business. Through the right media coverage you will be able to spread your brand message and cement your positioning. This will increase your market share of voice. In addition to this, you can present yourself as an expert in your industry with effective thought leadership. Alternatively, you can gain exposure to new audiences.

Here are the steps you can take to optimise your PR strategy to get the best media coverage for your brand.

Begin by creating an incredible company story

Journalists get pitched a lot. Whether you’re pitching to a B2B publication within your sector or a business journalist as a newspaper, story is important. No matter what you’re pitching or to whom, there should always be a personal angle. A face to go with the story, to add human interest.

On top of this, the story has to be compelling. As previously mentioned, journalists get pitched a lot and receive countless press releases. To even get noticed, let alone considered for coverage, you need to make sure that you stand out from the crowd. There can be nothing general about your story, approach, or final pitch.

As a result, part of creating an incredible story is collating all the necessary information. This allows you to provide the journalist with a pre-conceived business case for accepting your pitch. Defining your key message is paramount. You also need to layout what you want the readers of the story to take away. This can include anything, from your product or a new funding round, to the business expanding quickly or the company culture.

Find the right journalists and publications

However, you can’t build an intriguing story or a successful pitch without first identifying the right journalists and publication. Like writing a cover letter for a specific company, your pitch needs to be tailored. Otherwise you won’t get very far.

When researching journalists, you should look for those whose writing lines up with your brand message. They should either write about the specific industry or sector that you operate in, business news in general, or topics that relate to your product. Creating a database of potential journalists will simplify any future pitches.

Once you have built out a database of journalists you’d like to work with, familiarise yourself with their previous work. Relating your company to something they have previously written will help when pitching to them.

In tandem with researching journalists, you need to identify relevant publications. These should overlap with your company in the same vein as journalists. For example you could approach Business Insider for media coverage of the announcement of your next round of funding. Alternatively, a sector specific publication such as World Finance Magazine to pitch a FinTech product release.

It is vital to understand the publication before pitching to it. A pitch that misses the mark, due to a lack of research, can irreparably damage a potential media relationship. And keep in mind that every publication has a different house style. This should be taken into account when approaching a journalist or publication and in the final pitch. There’s no on-size-fits-all, when it comes to pitching for publications.

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Approach journalists prior pitching to them

Once you’ve identified the right journalists for you, don’t go in with a pitch cold. Make time to connect with the journalists you’re interested in. Follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn, and interact with their posts and content. Engaging with them on a public forum allows you to establish a personal connection. This will help when you do decide to pitch to them and will bring authenticity and validity to your interest in them as a journalist.

Alternatively, or in conjunction, you can email them directly. This can either be to ask for their opinion on specific topic or for feedback on a content you have produced internally. Or, if you can, help them with a piece that they are working on by providing additional information.

However, the most effective tactic is to meet them face-to-face. Whether you approach them at an industry event or suggest an informal meeting to discuss their writing, building a personal relationship will be invaluable. Dedicating time to your media relations will only be beneficial.

Polaroid camera

Time to perfect your pitch

So, you’ve got a journalist or an editor at a publication listening. What now? The next phase of your media outreach journey is the dreaded pitch. Like presentations at school, pitches are often a source of anxiety and internal pressure. But they don’t have to be. There are a few simple steps you can take to perfect your pitch and get that media coverage.

The main thing to remember is that the journalist or editor knows their audience better than you do. Despite all your research, you need to trust their expertise and respect their opinion on the content you are proposing. What is exciting to you might not be exciting for their readers. But they might be able to find a different angle or take the coverage down a different route.

However, you can avoid the uncertainty of whether your pitch will stick. The key is plenty of research. Look at the media you are targeting, what stories on similar topics get traction? What does a specific audience generally like to read? Which businesses has a publication previously featured? How well has brand content by a particular journalist historically performed? The answers to these questions, and more, will help you tailor your pitch even further.

Do your homework

When pitching to journalists you need to be ever the optimist. Before approaching anyone directly to pitch, all the supporting materials need to be collated and ready to go should you get the coverage. This means that when the inevitable media coverage comes, you are adequately prepared and not left scrambling for resources.

One of the most important aspects of doing your homework, is choosing your brand spokesperson. This is a senior colleague who is the best fit to participate in interviews or speak publicly about the topic being covered. They should ideally have had media training around being an effective spokesperson, but should also take guidance from the PR team.

Additionally, a press or media release needs to be prepared. This includes everything from your copy to quotes from brand spokespeople and press photos. This will be useful as a starting point during the pitch or for the journalist’s content. As a result, it needs to be both tailored for the journalist or publication and general enough to serve as a stand-alone press release.

Tie the bow

A journalist has agreed to write a story on your company. Can you wash your hands of it then? Absolutely not. Getting coverage in the media and maintaining a great relationship with a journalist or editor, is an ongoing process. So, be prepared to answer their questions. Going into a pitching scenario with as much information as possible will ease this process.

The journalist or editor will generally respond in one of two ways. If the author is interested, you need to be available and contactable to provide them with all the materials they need for the story. It’s also good to remember that they are doing you a favour. So keep to deadlines and make sure that you are enthusiastic but not too pushy. Hold off on following-up too quickly. Relax and give it a day or two.

Also, whilst receiving the best media coverage is your ultimate goal, the process of building a working relationship is just as important for future editorial opportunities. Ensure that you promote their coverage of you to your network on your socials or in company newsletters. They’ve scratched your back, now you should scratch theirs.

If the occasion arises and they’re not interested – don’t discourage yourself. This can, and will, happen. And probably often. Instead learn a lesson, consider what you can do differently next time or ask them for feedback. This will often lead to a suggestion of the kind of content they would considering writing about. So while it may not have worked out this time round, there’s always the possibility that they may cover you in the future.

Most importantly of all, thank them for their consideration. Journalists and publications get flooded with content from businesses constantly, and their time is precious. Let them know that you’re grateful.

How to find the right information?

You may be thinking that this all sounds great, but finding all the necessary information is easier said than done. And you’d be right. Finding the right people for the task can prove to be a challenge. But media tracking and investing in media monitoring tools can help.

Using a media intelligence platform you can track journalists, monitor the content output of different publications, and receive real-time alerts when your competitors are covered in the media. A media monitoring strategy will keep you in the know and poised to capitalise on any opportunity to get media coverage that arises.