In November, I was asked to appear on Fox News to discuss the Twitter IPO. This was an amazing feat for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that I'm an entrepreneur and not a professional talking head. Second, Fox News actually reached out to my company to see if I'd be available to appear on a national broadcast.

Obviously, I said yes. The benefits of a TV appearance, while perhaps not as measurable or defined as some online marketing tactics, are substantial:

  • You're building authority and establishing credibility in your industry.
  • The exposure is massive–and free. Consider that the average 30-second commercial spot in a primetime network show is $110,200; I'll gladly take a few hours out of my day to appear on a national network as an expert guest.
  • Depending on the topic, it can be a great lead generation tool for your company.

We hadn't pitched Fox News for an appearance; the producer contacted us after seeing our blog coverage of Twitter's ad products, including the results of original research we had conducted in-house.

In this column, I'll share tips you can use to improve your blog and content marketing strategy making you too a prime target for television producers seeking expert guests.

Mainstream Media Opportunities Don't Happen By Accident

In this case, we were aware (along with the rest of the world) that Twitter's IPO was impending. Knowing that much of Twitter's IPO value depended on the company’s ability to generate revenue, we planned a content marketing project to get ahead of the news. We knew it would need to have broad appeal, if we were to be covered by media outside of my company's Internet marketing niche.

News producers and publishers have an insatiable need for fresh, engaging content. They're constantly on the lookout for a more interesting way to tell their story, whether through original research, expert commentary, or a new angle.

If you can be the one to give them everything they're looking for, TV producers and reporters will start contacting you.

1. Understand Your Audience... and Their Audience

To get media pick-ups, you also need to understand the needs of the publications and venues and the needs of their audiences.

As a pay-per click search marketing company, WordStream actually does quite a bit of original research and my blog audience loves the in-depth analysis. However, talking about click-through rates and cost-per-click or other dorky Internet marketing metrics really doesn't resonate with a Fox News, NBC, or other mainstream media audience, especially in the context of their IPO coverage.

We knew that in this case, our desired audience (mainstream news outlets) needed unique, authoritative content for their stories, and that their audiences are not highly technical. This helped us determine the type of information that would make our story interesting to them.

2. Find Your Hook

We decided to frame our content project as a comparison between Facebook Ads and Twitter Ads, for a couple of reasons:

  • It created a bit of controversy.
  • It helped to put our performance metrics about Twitter Ads in context.
  • It allowed us a creative angle, using a report card theme for our visual content.

We knew that the news media were going to be talking about Twitter and that Facebook would inevitably be part of that conversation. Our strategy was to give them something relevant, but new and interesting, to talk about. Our blog post title asked the question on many an investor's mind: Do Twitter Ads Work? We had positioned ourselves as the best people to answer that.

3. Plan to Provide Material News Publishers Can Use

News publications, whether online, in print, or on TV, have massive content needs. If you can offer visuals (images, an infographic, charts, etc.), video, or audio soundbites, do it.

We created several helpful illustrations for our blog post that would then appear in search results about Twitter ads, but could also be shared in social channels or picked up by other publishers referring to our content. Make it as easy as possible for media producers to include you in their coverage.

4. Timing is Everything

News moves fast and your timing has to be dead-on if you hope to be a part of it. We released our blog post the day before Twitter's IPO, to really capitalize on the conversations happening around their valuation. Tip: it helps if your blog posts appear in Google News search results; check out their Getting Into Google News resource for technical and quality guidelines.

Want to Get in the News? Be the News

Inserting yourself in relevant, timely news story is fantastic PR for your business. Treat your blog as a hub of information for your audience, but also as a jumping-off point for other publications. Plan your content projects to feature on your blog, but expand far beyond, into other publications and yes, even television. The benefits of a national TV appearance as an expert guest are well worth retooling your strategy for your next blog post.