You want your brand's name in the media. It boosts your brand awareness, lends authority to your business, and gives you some great SEO love via backlinks. As the founder of a digital marketing company, LoudGrowth, I know how important press is for small businesses. Here I'll walk you through the process I use with my clients to help them secure those headlines.
Step 1: Define your goals and your audience
Getting media coverage is your goal—I get that. But you'll need to be more specific before you start pitching. I encourage my clients to create SMART goals (specific, manageable, attainable, relevant, and time-based). Here are some general ideas to get you started—and to show you how the goals of press can be pretty varied:
Increase brand awareness among a specific demographic
Generate X leads for your business
Create a buzz in the target market about a new product launch
Find X new investors
Each of your goals should be tied to a specific audience. You should know your general target audience from other work on your business, but your target audience for PR might be different. For example, if your goal is to raise capital, investors—not your customers—are your target audience.
Your goals and your audience will help you determine what angle you should pitch and even which publications to pitch. Going back to the example of raising capital: in that case, you'd want the story to be about your company's revenue and achievements, and you'd target publications that investors might read. That's different from a PR goal of increasing brand awareness: in that case, the focus would be more on your business's story and value-add, and you'd pitch it to the publications your customers read.
Step 2: Find journalists
Once you have a list of target publications, you need to find the journalists writing about your topic/niche. Tools like Buzzsumo can help with that, but you can also do it with free tools.
Search your topic on Google News to see who's writing about it.
[topic] journaliston Twitter, and use the People tab. You can even search
"looking for" [topic]to find journalists who are already looking for sources/stories in your specific niche.
Visit the relevant categories in your target publications and browse articles to see who's writing them.
site:forbes.com air pollution). That'll help you find articles on that topic, and then you'll see who the relevant journalists are. This approach is especially helpful if you're looking to narrow it down to a really specific topic.
Follow #JournoRequest or #PRrequest on Twitter, where you can find journalists looking for sources for their stories. This will help you find journalists to pitch down the road, but it can also give you a chance to be a source for them right then and there.
If you want to get media coverage by being a source for an article, then you should also use HARO, a free tool that lets you submit pitches to dozens of journalist queries every day.
Once you've found the journalists you want to target, you could find their email addresses and send them a cold pitch. But for better results, you'll want to build connections. Follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn (and engage with them, showing authentic interest in their writing), and see if you have any connections that can help connect you.
Step 3: Hook them with a headline—and then give them more
The journalist will write the headline for the press, but you need to write a headline for the journalist. Journalists, especially at top publications, get more inquiries than they can read. Your headline can make or break whether or not they'll read your pitch.
Start by reviewing the headlines of actual articles written by the journalists you're pitching. How are they phrased? What do they highlight? Do they include data points? Are they open-ended or specific? And the best rule of thumb: the headline needs to be good enough that you'd read the article if it were about another business.
Of course, you need to give journalists more than just a headline. Here are some other things to consider before crafting a pitch.
Make sure you have something valuable to link to. Whether it's an original data report, a case study, or a product page, give them something they can link to. That will help ensure you get a link in the story, if it's published, but it'll also give them something to work with.
Create a visual. Infographics, videos, charts, and other visuals will help journalists better understand the value of your story.
Step 4: Create a perfect pitch
All the effort you've already put in is for naught if you don't craft an excellent pitch. Each journalist you write to should get a unique pitch. It's like applying to jobs: you won't get one if you use the same cover letter for each opportunity.
Always start with the journalist's name ("Hello [name]," will do the trick). Journalists get hundreds of emails every day, so you need to be concise—but you also need to be sure you give them everything they might need to tell their story. Here's an example of a real pitch I sent. It's skimmable, offers some stand-out stats, and includes a link to learn more.
Here are a few other tips:
Journalists tend to start their workdays early—try to get into their inbox just before they start, so you're on top when they open their email.
If you include images or videos, include links to download and let them know they're able to use them.
Try different angles to see if one works better than another, and then focus on the angle that gets the most traction.
And remember, if someone publishes your story, thank them. Keep that relationship strong for the future.