You likely already know that it is important to tell your company's story and may even know how to tell your story effectively.
But beyond blogging and writing press releases, how do you get someone else to be interested enough to tell your story?
Before I launched a tech startup, I spent several years as a freelance writer and learned a thing or two about effectively pitching an idea to a publication. Here are a seven things you can do to increase your chances of getting your story told to a bigger audience.
1. Do Your Research
If you want your story told to a bigger audience, you need to take it seriously and do the research to understand which publications, writers and readers will be the best fit.
Find out who is writing about topics similar to what you want covered. Engage with those writers on social media to learn what they like to write about and what isn't of interest.
It is not enough to post your press release to some free hosting site or send it out in a group email. While most companies embrace research as a vital process for most decisions, this step is often a missed opportunity in reaching a bigger audience.
2. Personalize Your Request
Once you are ready to propose a specific story and you have identified your top choices for publications, editors and writers, take the time to personalize the messages you send. Mention a previous article or tell the recipient why you believe they might be interested. And be considerate of their time - make your message short and to the point. The more words you make them read to get to the meat of your message, the bigger chance that your request will be ignored or deleted.
3. Be Transparent
Make sure you identify yourself, your role, and why you believe getting your story told matters - why the news is relevant to a larger audience, why your story is unique and interesting, or why it is timely based on current events.
Also understand that what you are asking for is news, not public relations. You will not be able to control what is written, and you will not get an advance copy of the content.
While getting your story told may be a huge win for your company, it is not a valid reason for coverage to the person you are pitching. They are solely interested in why this story will be of interest to their audience.
4. Do Not Offer Compensation to Journalists
While offering financial payment or incentives might seem like a good idea, it is not. Most respected publications have policies in place that prohibit the exchange of money or acceptance of other forms of compensation. Ethical journalists will put you on their own banned list, as participating in these kinds of arrangements can get them fired or dropped. Additionally, most writers will forward your offer to their editors so that the publication is also aware of the offer.
5. Send an Invitation to Cover a Local Event
If you are hosting or participating in an event that you believe would be a good fit for a specific publication or writer, send them an invitation to attend. Make sure your invitation includes all of the relevant information as well as a few angles for stories, yours included, that might pique their interest in attending. If you have access to a budget for travel accommodations, be sure to ask whether they are allowed to accept tickets and lodging. Some are, some are not.
6. Be Prepared and Responsive
Once a writer decides to cover your story, understand their timelines can be tight. Until they are ready to work on your story, you may not hear from them. But once a writer starts, most work on tight deadlines. When you receive a request for clarification, for additional information or confirmation on the accuracy of a quote, your timely responsive will ensure the writer makes their deadline. If you get a reputation for slow or no responses, writers will avoid writing about topics you suggest - even if they might be interested.
7. Be Careful How Often You Pitch
Be judicious with what you pitch and how often you pitch. If their inbox is filled with your constant press release cycle, your email will end up in the spam folder. Reach out to other writers at other publications, make it personal and individualized, and make sure the request is because it is a good fit for their interests/topics.
One last note of caution: if you don't have anyone on your team that can effectively promote your company for you, consider engaging the services of a social media manager or public relations firm - but do your research. Check references, talk to other clients. Look at the social media and press coverage of the clients they serve.
And if your agreement with an agency or representative guarantees coverage within specific national publications, make sure you clearly understand how they plan to deliver on that promise. If the person or agency representing your company offers payment or perks in exchange for news coverage, their actions could end up hurting your company.