Sign up to HARO, pitch to journalists, and get free PR. It’s that simple, right? Not exactly. One of the most difficult parts of being a business owner is finding the right traction to begin your business. The new business birthing pains can be overwhelming, as you have to take on multiple tasks at once.
You have to manage your capital, look for your first clients, and constantly find ways to improve your products or services.
Along with all these, you will need to ensure that you’re building a good story for your business during its early stages.
Sometimes, you may doubt if the effort is worth it, especially if you don’t immediately see the returns.
A good way to start is to tell people about your business. And what better way to spread the word than through news platforms?
To help you get started, we’ve created this comprehensive guide for you. Learn how to reach out to journalists and how to get them to write about your business.
6 Ways You Can Get Journalists Write About Your Business
Press coverage can do wonders for a business, especially when you’re starting. But given the number of companies wanting to get media attention, the challenge is to get the press to write about your business.
Here are a few tips:
1. Write A Press Release
Writing a press release move might be decades old, but for it to last that long means it’s also proven effective. It’s quick and easy both on the side of PR professionals and of the journalist who will pick up the story.
The make-or-break of news releases is their ability to catch the interest of potential readers.
What makes your story stand out from the others? Is this about your launch? Are you partnering with a huge company?
In other words, make sure that your press release is relevant to the readers and not just a plain statement. In the business world, every single bit of your effort must be valuable to the customer.
If you aren’t familiar yet with news outlets or journalists, you can use PR sites like Business Wire to submit your press releases to multiple platforms at once.
2. Contact Journalists Directly
Sometimes, news releases aren’t enough, especially if you really want to showcase the assets of your business.
You might want to be interviewed by media outlets, or you might want to appear on three consecutive issues of a magazine to put your brand out there.
In this case, it will be best to reach out to journalists directly.
It’s not as easy as it sounds, though, unless you already have a person in mind.
You can use journalist research tools like Buzzsumo, but usually, you will have to scan the publication that best fits your story.
Be more specific on choosing which column will help you target more clients, and then reach out to the proper contact person, such as the columnist or press staff. Their email addresses can usually be found under their byline or through their social media accounts.
You can also find other journalists using Twitter. Follow the hashtags #PRRequest and #JournoRequest and click the People Tab. Here, you can screen journalists who are looking for sources under the same hashtag.
3. Immerse In Your Locality
Before you take a giant leap, consider taking small steps. If you’re having a hard time tapping into huge press companies, try your local journalists. They can still attract attention and provide press coverage for your brand.
Also, engage in your local events, even just for recall. Be a speaker in a seminar, sponsor a small event, or encourage your team to volunteer in a foundation.
When establishing your brand, no visibility is too small.
Some startups prefer to target a certain demographic first before having a full-blown media launch.
PR professionals also use this move to gain a general feel of audience reception. Under this situation, you might want to reach out to local news for your PR.
Local press coverage can also be the key for your story to reach the national media outlets when the local press sends their stories to bigger companies.
Whether this is happening or not, local PR coverage can still directly increase your brand visibility.
To help you successfully utilize local news, consider the following insights:
Understand The State Of Community Press
Not all local media companies were able to adjust to the rise of the digital age. For example, according to Pew Research Center’s study, employment in the US newsroom has fallen 26% between 2008 and 2020.
For you, this means more competition for the attention of journalists. Knowing which press companies still thrive and entertain small business pitches will help you create an appealing pitch.
Find Your Contact
Choose which papers to contact and which sections you want to be featured in. Check the reporters who are writing for this section and paper and look for their contact details through their byline.
Make Personalized Pitches
Like pitching to journalists through PR platforms, you must also write unique pitches for each reporter. Once reporters notice that your pitch is too generic so as to cater to different people, they might opt to disregard your story.
Respond To Queries
Journalists might have additional questions regarding your pitch. Keep your lines open and quickly answer their queries, if any.
If you still haven’t gotten any response from local reporters, you can respectfully follow up through email after three to five days.
4. Use Journalist Outreach Platforms like HARO
HARO or Help a Reporter Out connects journalists and sources (e.g., business figureheads and PR professionals). You can get media coverage by providing expert insights through answers to journalist queries.
HARO sends emails to sources thrice a day from Monday to Friday at 5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m., and 5:35 p.m. EST.
Check the queries that catch your attention and resonate with your brand, and review the details and requirements. As you respond, make sure to be concise with your pitch. Avoid email attachments.
Consistent activities in HARO can bring a lot to the table, and here are some of the best ones your business can enjoy:
Being quoted by a journalist or mentioned in an article can help put your business name out there, especially if the publication already has a regular following.
More people will gain knowledge of what you do, and some might even be interested in investing in your product or services.
Aside from directly increasing brand visibility, being published by journalists through HARO can help your brand’s digital marketing by boosting your social media platforms, especially if your website was linked in the published work.
Your SEO rankings will improve through linking from the related site that mentioned your startup. You can rank higher on the search results tab and gain domain authority.
Potential customers can reach your business through referral links featured in articles and press coverage.
This can be a huge help for startups because, during the early stages of these companies, the budget can be limited. They’ll want to look for the best ways they can advertise their brand for free.
Aside from HARO, you can also try the following tools:
5. Maximize Social Media
Even if you’re hesitant to pay for advertisements online, you can still maximize your free and organic reach through a strong digital marketing campaign.
Regularly publish your content on social media on the most strategic time slots for your brand. Identify influencers and offer a mutually beneficial deal for them and for your startup.
Joining conversations on social media can help your business in more ways than one. Most of your customers will likely be on social media, and when you’re eyeing contacts, engaging in meaningful communications through social media can be a lot simpler.
From there, you can enjoy a wide network of loyal followers and potential customers, all for free.
For example, if you’re into writing, you can opt to start a free personal blog, then modify this later according to your startups’ needs.
6. Ride The Trend
If you can join the wave, ride it! Lots of things are going viral on social media, and you will have more chances of being noticed if you engage yourself in a viral topic.
PR professionals usually newsjack trending stories to generate more visibility for your startup.
Excellent timing is crucial here. You want to draw attention to your brand by publishing your reaction to a news event or emerging trend before a lot of media have reported it.
Watch out for breaking news and check trending topics on Google Trends or Twitter. But before that, you must have a clear sense of your brand messaging. It will help you respond and act quickly to the rising trend.
How Do You Pitch Your Business To Journalists?
Let’s say you came across a journalist in town. Your next step will be to present great PR pitches—remarkable ones that can make you stand out. In doing so, consider these tips:
Set Your Goals And Target Audience
Most journalists prefer to work with defined goals, especially since huge press organizations receive hundreds of pitches daily from PR professionals. They might spend just a few seconds deciding on the ones that matter, so you have to make yours stand out.
Be clear on your vision and what you want to happen with your pitch, but more importantly, be specific on goals. Use the popular SMART acronym to help you make effective objectives. Have goals that are specific, manageable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.
It’s also important to know which type of audience you want to attract. You cannot catch everything at once, so you have to start on those that you can. Set a target group, and customize your pitch for them.
As an example, a pitch for the launch of the newest gardening gloves shall specify its target of increasing brand awareness among housewives aged 55-60 who spend the majority of their time in their gardens.
Catch Their Attention At The Subject Line
Start strong by crafting a short yet straight-to-the-point, urgent, and unique headline. You have plenty of space to provide them with data and details in the body of your pitch.
Reviewing actual headlines of published articles can also help you make your own.
Research online resources for actual write-ups related to your startup and use their headlines as the basis of your pitch. Never copy them word for word, though! Remember not to blend in with these articles but to stand out.
Create A Unique Pitch
You know how a personal message sticks to you over a generic one? This is also the case for journalists and media people.
Create a unique pitch for every journalist that you’ll be in contact with, instead of making a generic one and sending them to many.
Even if it’s just one story, twist it using unique angles. The more relatable, the more they will accept your pitch. You’ll never know who might be friends with whom, or who shares pitches with whom.
Even if it’s just for their response, or for them reaching out to you, it’s always good to show gratitude. Appreciation is an underrated tool in the business world.
Be thankful after conversations, and show them that you are grateful for their help. Your pitch can take your business far, but a good working relationship with journalists will take you even further.
How Do You Contact A Reporter With Your Story Idea?
You have created the perfect pitch, but how will you reach out to journalists? Here are some effective tips to help you out.
Finalize Your Preferred Section
Choose which section of the paper will most likely be interested in your story. Read about relevant past articles in this section, then contact the reporters through the details in their byline.
Update Contact Details
Ensure that the reporter’s contact details are up to date. You can check this under their bylines, through their LinkedIn profiles, or if they have their own websites.
Send An Email
If you want to reach a journalist, email is the way to go. For unresponsive contacts, you may try to call them—but only after introducing yourself through email.
Keep in mind that this will only work if you have prior contact with the journalist already. If you call immediately after a pitch, you might end up seeming too pushy. Balance is key!
In your email, include the most important facts, and make sure to include as many as you can.
Follow the inverted pyramid format. Start your pitch with the most fundamental detail, and then arrange the rest of the information according to relevance.
Once you have reached out, you need to always be available. Once the reporter asks for a quick meeting, be prepared to present a better idea and overview of your business. The journalist may also be interested in interviewing you.
How Will Media Coverage Benefit Your Business?
Media coverage provides valuable insights in measuring the effectiveness of marketing your campaigns. This is particularly helpful for your business when learning about your competitors.
But how else can the media benefit your business? Here are some advantages media coverage can provide:
Increases Your Brand Visibility
Aside from trade shows, media coverage is also a surefire way to help your business gain attention.
People who will constantly hear about your brand might mention you casually during conversations with friends and family. Word of mouth remains to be a valuable tool in the business landscape. It helps you build a reputation as a key player in your field.
Helps You Gain Customers and Users
Apart from getting press from the casual mention of your brand on lazy afternoon meals, you can also convert potential media users into your next loyal customers.
Social media savvy users can also lead traffic to your website, earn your next “Top Fan” badge on Facebook, or be your next Twitter and Instagram follower.
Allows You To Catch Investors’ Attention
Your business’s actual clients matter, but so do the potential business partners who might want to invest in your products or services.
They might offer free exposure for your brand or even provide financial support. Press coverage can also reach these important people if targeted appropriately.
Helps You Reach Potential Talents
The people drive your business forward, making the hiring process a vital step of the way.
Promoting your business will reach not only an external audience but also those talented employees who can help your brand reach new heights through their skill and dedication.
In the digital age, even small businesses are expected to devote a significant chunk of their capital and efforts to SEO and other digital marketing ventures.
This helps small businesses in lead generation amidst tight competition in the vast and intricate world of the internet. Media coverage will also help build your business’s SEO through quality and strategic backlinks.
Public Relations For Your Business To Boost Your Brand
Is PR important for your business? Definitely.
More than shaping the branding for your startup, public relations or PR can also help spread the news about your business to potentially relevant stakeholders.
Through PR tools, the selling point and compelling story uniquely crafted for your brand reach your target audience as a form of personal recommendation through various media channels.
Generally, PR is important because it makes people advertise your business for you. It also helps through the following ways:
Boosts Business Growth And Development
The more attention your startup gets, the easier it will be for you to dive into new opportunities. Others may want to take it slow as a small business, but with the right PR perspective for your business, you can be shocked at how far and fast you can grow and develop.
Conveys Positive Branding
A good reputation is almost a prerequisite to monetary growth. A startup able to maintain positive feedback and reviews is also most likely to be trusted by customers. As a result, you can enjoy a steady increase in sales and profit.
Builds Relationship With Media
Since a working relationship with the press is one of the main requirements for a PR person, this helps you establish a network with relevant journalists for press coverage.
As the world of public relations continues to evolve, customers are more likely to be inclined to believe the media more than traditional advertisements, as today’s users now see the latter as more of a self-plug and less of an authentic promotion.
Promotes Customer Development
PR helps you get the right kind of marketing mix that takes both your business and customer into account.
It helps give attention to the development of your audience and customer instead of just focusing on the sole development of the product or service you are offering.
This is important, especially for small businesses on their baby steps towards establishing their name.
How Much Should You Spend On PR?
The budget for PR varies hugely among different businesses, and some even prefer to only use free tools.
The common ground among all is that the revenue you get from getting PR should be directly proportional to the amount you spend for it.
Well, the ideal for other businesses is to get more revenue than incur costs, but a well-maintained balance between both also works just fine. This means that once you attract more sales from your PR, the higher budget you should allow for it until it stabilizes.
Your business’s focus should also be considered when deciding how much to spend on a PR campaign. If you’re still developing your product or your service, you might want to focus primarily on this first.
This also holds true if you’re planning to venture into a new branch of your business or looking into launching your newest product. After all, you cannot create a good market strategy without a product that you will introduce to the market.
Is there free PR software? Sure.
Engaging with huge PR firms can be pricey, but it’s highly advised for startups to invest in it. Given the benefits that it can add to the business, you can expect a boost in visibility and revenue with its help.
Understandably, there are limitations on finances, but there are ways to enjoy press for free. You can leverage the use of social media, as well as free PR tools like HARO that we discussed earlier.
Wrapping Up Getting Press Coverage
Getting journalists write a media coverage report about your business plays a crucial role in growing your business visibility. Your branding can be a make-or-break for your company, so it’s important to get your story out there.
Thankfully, there are multiple strategies to effectively make journalists write about your business. This, and the best tools for PR, can be the one-two punch you need in your path to success. As you find ways to gain attention and visibility online, keep this guide in mind!