Even though the media has become highly fragmented, there is no greater credibility for your business than getting authentic news coverage. There is more media than ever and these media outlets range from the equivalent of 3-pound dumbbells to the bench press. To get a larger audience, you want to shoot for top-tier press. Let’s take two heavyweight contenders—The New York Times and Tech Crunch. How do you get in?
There are three must-do rules to get into top-tier press: research your editors and writers, develop a long-term relationship with key journalists, and, before you pitch a journalist, always make sure you have a good story.
Research your editors and writers. You wouldn’t go into a business meeting without knowing something about the person you are meeting with. Why should it be any different with a journalist? Track reporters who cover news relevant to you and your business. You don’t necessarily need to access the databases used by PR professionals. Internet research can cover a lot of ground and provide you with most journalists’ recent articles and posts. You should be able to see how long the journalist has covered a beat and get a handle on his writing style, pet peeves and specific areas of coverage.
Develop a long-term relationship. Before you even pitch a story, start by laying some groundwork. Send each journalist-of-interest an email with your brief bio or electronic press kit. Introduce yourself. Compliment his work and tell him why. Open a dialogue. Build a relationship. Stay in touch by email on a monthly basis. Comment on their news stories even if you did not participate. If you see a story in the news that speaks to your expertise, then immediately email or call the journalist and let her know you are available for interview, if not this time, then maybe next time.
You must have a good story. You must be brutally honest with yourself. Do you really have a good story? Many CEOs fall sin to the pride of hubris and think the most trivial event involving them has the makings for the first page of the New York Times business section. Think again. Does your news cover the latest trends in technology in a compelling story that has not been told before? To frame your news, are you willing to say positive things about your competitors? Are you such an expert on the topic that people pay you for your opinions? If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then it may be worth a pitch to the heavyweights.
Effective communication requires training and practice. Your pitch needs to be an excellent conversation. You should lay the groundwork by putting together a pitch that covers all of the salient points of your story. A well thought-out pitch is essential. You must always make certain that the content of your pitch is consistent with the key messages in your overall company brand, and yet at the same time, it really is a great story! Placing a story and making news for your company must always speak to the overall strategy and core focus of your business.