Media attention is a tricky thing. For some, it can bring an instant feeling of relevance, importance and credibility, and for others, it can be daunting, overwhelming and exhausting.
For entrepreneurs, the reality is that the media are a necessary part ofgrowing a business and gaining traction in the marketplace. Unfortunately, generating media attention can be a difficult and frustrating process for many. Fortunately, this is one area that I know a thing or two about.
I often get questions about how I built up BodeTree's media presence over the past few years. After all, we're still a relatively small company focused on the unsexy small business space. Our media presence has proven to be a hugely important part of our business. Here are the three lessons I've learned that have helped us gain valuable attention.
1. Be controversial
While there's no magic formula for becoming an attention magnet, controversy always helps. Not everyone can pull it off, however. It all comes down to your personal style and relationship with reporters. The trick is to think creatively about what you're willing to do for attention.
Take Kanye West for example. Yeezus has developed an uncanny ability to generate incredible attention on demand with by typing out 140 controversial characters on Twitter. He's outrageous, obnoxious, and always in the news.
While his behavior seems erratic, I suspect that Kanye's attention-grabbing Twitter meltdowns are far more calculated than they appear to be. He knows how to grab headlines and use them to his advantage. While I'm not advocating for quite the same behavior, there are certainly a few tips to be learned along the way.
BodeTree, for example approaches small business financial management in a somewhat outrageous way--we're inspired by the Buddhist legend of the Bodhi Tree, where Buddha reaches the highest state of enlightenment and believe that financial enlightenment can be similarly reached.
I can say with some certainty that we are the only financial company to cite Buddhist legend in their mission. However, our unconventional approach sets us apart and makes our story more appealing in the media and with potential clients and partners.
2. Be helpful
I started to build my media relationships by offering support to journalists I respected. I'd read through the target publication or watch the TV show religiously to see whose writing and reporting seemed closest in interest to what mine were. Then, I'd send them ideas, content and support.
The important lesson I've learned was to avoid outright self-promotion. Instead I focused on helping journalists find background information, identify trends or provide a new take on something they've already produced. I also reached out to ask for advice and more information about things they have already written.
As long as you are honest and authentic in your approach, your interest and support will be well received. Once you establish a relationship, you can come back with a pitch to them along with feedback on the help they provided.
3. Be relentless
This is by far the most important tip I have to offer. I can guarantee that you will experience a lot of rejection when it comes to building a media presence.
Get used to the standard response of "thanks, but I'll pass" or no response at all. Don't give up. Be patient, polite, listen to their responses and criticisms and try to answer those - and always try to help them see that they need what you've got.
Just remember that media is not one size fits all. Each writer has a distinctive voice and an editor or boss with clearly defined priorities, and those needs and priorities are constantly shifting.
Recognize that a news event can change the game in a flash. If you can trim your sails to catch those changes in the news cycle and avoid the slow spots that inevitably develop in that same cycle, you can keep coming back until you hit the mark.
Think of yourself as a missionary--when your message is heard, it has the power to change people's lives. Regardless of how firmly you believe that, you must approach the media with that sense of messianic mission, and the passion will come through.