Getting a feature story about your products, services, people or company can be a tremendous boon for your business.
Publications rely on the trust of their readers and that trust can be transferred to you in the form of leads, referrals and awareness when a third party like a magazine endorses what you are doing.
A great deal has changed over the last few years in terms of how you garner media attention, but the fact remains, it should be a major leg of your lead generation push. By employing new rules of media and public engagement, made possible in part by the new breed of online social tools, you can create a steady surge of coverage that just might turn into the good kind of PR storm.
Below are a couple practices that should be worked into your PR generation system:
Rules: Monitor in Real Time
Keeping tabs on what’s being said by leaders in your industry, competitors and even the daily news – monitoring the web in real time with tools such as Google Alerts or Collecta – is a great way to help identify times when it makes sense for you to seize potential opportunities and jump on trending stories.
When a video surrounding a news topic goes viral or a trending topic gets hot on Twitter you need to be able to create relevant ways to insert your brand, product or expertise into the conversation quickly through on topic blog posts or related videos. (PopScreen) Journalists may be asked to cover a particularly hot story and often turn to search engines to find a source. If your keyword rich blog post pops to the top of the list your chances of being quoted go up dramatically.
Tools: Google Alerts, PopScreen, Collecta
Rules: Build Relationships
The days of garnering media coverage by buying a media list or hiring a PR firm with a media list to send out press releases are forever over. In the old days the PR firms and journalists held all the cards because, to a large degree, they determined what got covered and who got access.
Now, everyone is a publisher and companies can more easily create their own news forcing journalists to pay closer attention or miss a big story. Access to journalists through social media and their publications’ online blogs has never been greater.
The key to tapping these two dynamics is to work at using this access to create relationships instead of posting press releases. Go to Google Alerts and create alerts for the names of the top five journalists that could impact your business with coverage. Find and subscribe to their blogs (Bloglines) and follow them on Twitter and other social networks (Flowtown). If you like you can even set up a dashboard in a tool like NetVibes and pull all the data on each journalist to a tab giving you an easy way to join and create conversations with your key journalists.
Tools: Google Reader, Bloglines, NetVibes, Flowtown
Rules: Expand the Base
These days it’s not uncommon for a popular niche blog to have a larger and more active readership than a daily newspaper.
It’s become very important to add key industry or local bloggers (Twellow, Placeblogger) to your media list. You don’t need to stick to high profile, large blogs, you may actually find better luck getting coverage on more specific niche blogs. (Google BlogSearch)
A couple keys to pitching bloggers: read the blog, start a dialogue through comments or on Twitter, pitch a story or guest post idea only if you can create a very compelling argument as to why this would be valuable that for that blog’s readership.
Tools: Twellow, Google BlogSearch, Placeblogger
Rules: Go Direct
There still are some pretty good reasons for crafting press releases despite how hard I seem to be pressing against them.
Get in the habit of creating a monthly press release as a bit of an online content and SEO play. By keeping a steady flow of news and announcements on the media wires through tools such as PRWeb and PitchEngine you’ll be building keyword rich content that links to your web site. It’s not uncommon for hundreds of industry related sites to pick these new releases up and give you some exposure to prospects and clients – consider any media coverage from this kind of activity a bonus.
Once you’ve gone to the trouble of writing your monthly press release, print a few hundred off and send them vial snail mail to customers and partners, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the reactions this will draw.
Tracking a media alert service such as Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is another way to go direct to reporters and bloggers in need. Journalist post their story needs with HARO and subscribers can submit themselves or others as potential sources. (Hint: This could be a good way to get some of your clients a little coverage too)
Tools: PRWeb, PitchEngine, HARO
As with most effective marketing plays, consistency and personalization are keys to making the system pay off as a long-term momentum builder for your business.
Image credit: Yan Arief
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine.