In this step, we will talk about how to approach the media in the
best way to achieve success.
The media you approach will almost certainly be limited to the small business media and your trade media,
however we will also talk about how to spot other opportunities in the wider media.
Identifying your target media in this module is pretty straight forward. The low hanging fruit for opinion pieces and guest posts will be your trade media and the small business media.
If your customers do not sit within this group and do not read these publications, it’s easy to dismiss them but don’t. Building your credibility in your own industry is a powerful way to boost trust in your brand and your products.
If you think about the process that a potential customer goes through on their path to purchase, the chances are one of the first things they will do is Google your product and company. If they find stories written about you or by you in these influential industry publications, it reinforces that you know what you’re talking about and therefore your product is likely to be good.
If your customers are small businesses and from within your trade, then that’s a bonus.
When you signed up, you got a link to a media list – view it, copy the media you think are right for you and paste them into an excel spreadsheet. The list will be updated regularly, so don’t forget to go back to the link and check for any changes before you begin your outreach.
You will need to research your own trade media as these titles are not included in the media list provided. It’s not hard to do, so we’ll show you some quick tips and tricks for finding the right contact details.
You should also consider the trade media of your customers – e.g. if you sell point of sale software that a lot of beauty salons use, then you should be looking at the beauty trade media as well.
Sometimes your expert topic will spill over into the mainstream media, so keep an eye out for these discussions and look for titles that are likely to cover your area of expertise.
FINDING MEDIA CONTACTS
For online, the best way to find the contacts right for you is to Google the outlet you want to get into, then look for the editor’s name. If it’s not clear who the editor is, just Google it and then check LinkedIn to see what they list their current job as.
Once you’re sure you’ve found them, click on their name and look at the other stories they have written. Check to see when they last wrote a story and if it’s in the last few weeks you can be sure they are still there.
Then see if there is an email address next to their name, if not, check twitter as sometimes they will include it in their bio.
If you still can’t find their email address, find the ‘contact us’ or ‘about us’ page and call up the switchdesk and ask for it. In most cases they will give it to you.
For print, it’s as simple as picking up a copy of the publication and again seeing who the editor is. Most publications list their staff on the upfront pages together with their contact details. If not, you can call the switchdesk and ask for their email address.
For radio and TV, you can call the switchdesk for the station and ask for the email address of the producers on each program or the expert that runs the segment on your topic (eg tech, food & drink, health etc).
The best way to go about sharing your views on a topic is to contact the editor of the trade or small business publication you want to get into to tell them your position on a topic that they are writing about frequently.
The key here is that it must be a fresh perspective (not a repeat of something already written).
Give them a quick run down on what your opinion stems from and what makes you an expert on this topic.
Make sure you include your contact details and the best time to get hold of you – there’s no point pitching an idea and then going underground for a week – make sure you are available.
You can attach a fact sheet on your business if you have one for background information (not imperative at all).
Preparing for interviews
If the topic is of interest to the journalist, they will want to chat to you further to get more information. Sometimes they will simply call you but mostly they will email and set up a convenient time to talk. If you do get warning it pays to prepare.
Do your homework
Before you do any interviews with media, do some research on the journalist interviewing you. Have a look at past interviews and the sort of questions they ask. Start thinking about the kind of questions they might ask you and how you could weave your key messages into your answers.
Write down some key points you want to get across and keep those in front of you during the interview.
Prepare for the negative
Make sure you’ve thought about the ‘danger’ questions media might ask you and you’ve worked out how you would respond if those questions come up. Don’t just hope for the best and pray they don’t ask you tough questions. Prepare for them and you won’t fear them.
Here are some pointers for during the actual interview:
Don’t just answer the question
Think of ways to answer the question all the while telling your story. Never answer just yes or no. Expand on your answer and include interesting thoughts relating to the question that allow you to get your messages across.
Keep your language simple
Often people think that if they use big words and lots of cool jargon it will make them look more intelligent but in fact the opposite is true; you will just end up alienating people and they will disconnect. Remember you are speaking to everyone and you want all your audiences to buy into what you’re saying. Use everyday language much like you would if you were talking to your friends.
The only time this doesn’t apply is when you’re talking to your trade media and then they would expect you to use industry terms to show you know what you’re talking about.
Tell a story
Using real life examples and scenarios will help people to remember your points. Have a think about these ahead of the interview and how you might use them. For instance, if I were being interviewed on how I help people do their own PR, I might use a story of how one person that came to me had a story about how when he was talking to a journalist, he didn’t realise that everything he said in that interview would appear in print. He thought they were just having a chat. Which brings me to the next point.
Once you’ve written your guest post and you’re happy with it, give it to someone to check over for typos – often the publication will run the copy as supplied and then it’s too late to correct it!
Put it into a word document so they can copy and paste the words – just make sure the journalist can’t see any tracked changes (just accept all changes to be sure).
Then send it to one editor of one publication with a pitch email. Do not send it to multiple publications. You must wait until they say they are not interested before taking it elsewhere.
Your pitch should run through the subject matter and what makes you the expert. Let them know that the content is original and hasn’t appeared anywhere else and that you haven’t offered it to anyone else yet.
Include a link to the images we discussed earlier and you can attach a fact sheet on your business if you have one for background information (not imperative at all).
If you don’t hear back from the journalist you must follow them up as it’s crucial to securing coverage. This is when you call or email the journalist again to see if they’ve had a chance to read your story idea or post.
Give them a chance to reply. Hounding them with follow up emails is a sure fire way to get them offside, but if you haven’t heard back a week later, it’s perfectly acceptable to email again to check in.
This time you can add a sense of urgency by saying that you’d like to take the story elsewhere if they are not interested so you’d be grateful if they could let you know.
There is a big difference between being persistent and being a pain! Never send more than two follow up emails. If you haven’t heard back after that, you can assume they are not interested and you should move on.
If you follow up with a phone call, instead of asking if they got your email, say that you’re following up on a story idea or a guest post you emailed over and pitch the idea again. If they don't answer your call, do not leave a message as they will never pick it up. Just call again later.
Remember to contact the journalist that wrote the story to say thank you.
It can go a long way to making you a memorable contact and one they’d be happy to work with again. They may even reach out to you next time they are writing a story on your topic.
There are a number of handy tools that PRs use that you might want to consider using too.
It’s a call out service that media use when they are looking for story content. There are often call outs for small business owners and entrepreneurs to share their stories.
You can sign up to get their alerts for free. You can also put yourself forward as an expert so that when a journalist searches for a person to speak on your topic, your name comes up.
Click here to set up
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