Securing traditional media coverage is still a huge asset for businesses, especially entrepreneurs trying to build a following, launch a product, or secure venture capital funding.
While social media is super effective, nothing says you've made it more than a top-tier publication in your industry or a national outlet touting your company's growth potential and success. How do you create the perfect media pitch for your business?
These seven tips will help you land that coveted media placement:
1. Create targeted controversy
Mark Cuban, star of Shark Tank and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, says startups "shouldn't hire a PR firm."
This is a super smart way for Cuban to get some of the most influential people in media (cough: PR professionals) to not only repeat what he said but also refute it. Every time I read Cuban's perspective, I think of all those startups that could benefit from a specialized PR firm.
After all, how did Cuban get so famous? That's right, he hired a PR firm.
2. Notice what isn't being said
Have you ever watched a television news segment or read an article and thought, "They are missing this point, and I could really help shape this story better if I were the person being interviewed"?
If you actively notice what's not being said in your field of expertise, and contact the journalist in a timely manner to add your point of view--you will be considered a go-to source for stories.
This is especially true for entrepreneurs, because the media is always looking for business owners to weigh in on a multitude of topics. Use your expertise to your advantage to get noticed.
3. No gray matter
If you look at business owners like Elon Musk of Tesla and Sara Blakely of Spanx, they use social and traditional media to talk about business concepts that are debatable.
Musk touts his ability to not even conceive failure as an option. And, conversely, Blakely talks about conversations with her father at the dinner table while growing up. He would ask her, "So, what did you fail at today?"
This polarizing brand positioning garners these moguls' massive amounts of media coverage. What do these entrepreneurs know that you don't?
They focus on items that can be easily disputed, making their stories sharable and water cooler-worthy.
4. Reporters are just like us
As a former reporter, I keep a special folder with compliments from readers as a point of pride and encouragement. Journalists want recognition about their writing, reporting, and investigative skills.
They want to ensure that someone is reading and retaining their materials, and validation is the best way to demonstrate someone's interest and attention.
Send a short email to compliment a reporter on his or her latest story, segment, or blog. Subtly mention your expertise and how it relates to what was mentioned in the story.
This will help position you as a thought leader and trigger the journalist to use you as a source in the future.
5. Watch. Read. Listen.
One of the best ways to be considered for an interview is to study the reporter and news outlet you are trying to pitch.
Watch a station's programs to be well versed on the types of guests it is looking to book.
Read a publication's columns to increase your chance of appearing in one. For instance, you don't want to pitch a blogger an exclusive interview with an executive at your startup if the blogger has never quoted executives in the past.
Listen to a radio show or podcast and understand what it wants to get out of sources.
This will make you leagues ahead of the competition, which rarely understand programming formats, timing, and the information producers are really looking for from sources.
6. Pitch data, not story ideas
The media are looking for new and interesting data, not necessarily story ideas.
The best way to garner media attention is to use three pieces of research to create a trend by linking the data together with your expert opinion.
Be sure to use data from credible sources, such as The Journal of Neuroscience, Pew Research Center, or the Harvard Business Review, to help build a case that what you are purporting is actually backed by third-party data and some science.
7. Build relationships before you need them
Whether you're a startup or a big company, at some point you may have an incident that gets reported in the media that could damage your reputation and negatively impact your bottom line.
When the crisis is happening is not the time to try and "build a relationship" with a reporter or producer.
Be sure to pitch the media regularly, so you can have some press on your side should you need them in a pinch.