So you know you’re ready to elevate your brand, and you understand that a little bit of media coverage can go a long way toward growing your bottom line. But what do you do when the fish aren’t biting (or the media isn’t calling)?
Hang around and we’ll flatten the learning curve. 😉
In this article, I’m going to walk you through three of the biggest mistakes I see business owners make when they want media coverage.
This is probably the biggest misconception I hear from business owners. The reasoning is usually something along the lines of, “If I’m good at what I do, the media (and customers) will find me.”
Here’s the thing: I know people who have been in business for decades, who are tremendously skilled and knowledgeable, and who have never—not once—been approached by a media professional. In fact, most entrepreneurs and business owners rarely, if ever, are approached for a media interview or feature spotlight.
That’s because most business owners don’t understand how getting publicity works (and that’s why you’re here, because you know we’re all about smashing the smoke and mirrors around PR!).
Let me give you some context: An editor recently recounted her crazy workload as she tries to churn out new content on a daily basis. It includes shrinking staff sizes, massive increases in assignment loads, and faster turnaround times on deadlines. “I would love to spend an hour tracking down that organic mushroom farm or something that I’m sure is around here somewhere so I can interview them for my story about the health benefits of locally-grown food, but I don’t even have the time to stop for my own lunch. I just have to run with the source I already have sitting in my contact list, the one I’ve featured a half-dozen times already.”
The hard truth is that media pros don’t have time to track you down, reach out to you, and hope you have the expertise and assets they need to make the story work.
And that’s actually a really good thing for you, for three reasons in particular.
Buuuuut… all of this is only true if you’re willing to make yourself easily findable and valuable to media contacts. I talk a lot about service-focused marketing around here and making the job of the media contact easier is a big part of it.
If you’re ready to do that, keep on reading, because I have something for you at the end of this article that will get you going in the right direction.
Here’s some tough love: The media doesn’t care about your business. It’s not their job to help customers find you.
So if they don’t care about your business, what do they care about? Well, they need:
The problem is, the business owners that do have the confidence to reach out for media coverage, don’t always understand the right way to reach out and secure features.
In my years working in media and marketing strategy, I’ve seen some pretty rough pitches. One of the worst looks like this:
Why is this pitch guaranteed to exclude you from media coverage? Because the reporter has just covered the topic, and unless you have something new and different to share, they aren’t going to duplicate the story. Besides, their job is to provide content to their audience, not to draw attention to your business.
Here’s another, equally bad, example.
I can guarantee that this pitch won’t land an interview. There’s nothing to suggest what this feature would be about, why the podcaster should care, or how it would benefit their audience in any way.
And finally, the worst pitch offender of them all:
In this pitch, you’ve basically asked the media outlet to give you free advertising. To make matters even worse, you’ve asked them to add yet another project to their list (see the crazy schedule description above), to spend the time to interview you and see if they can find an interesting story angle, and then to (hopefully) pull all the pieces together, just to do you a huge favor. And they probably don’t even know you to boot. This kind of request is more offensive to an editor or producer, simply because it says to them that the person making the request doesn’t understand or value the time of the media pro.
What does that mean for you? It means that simply suggesting someone feature you or your business won’t land you media coverage. But a well-pitched story that does the heavy lifting can secure high-quality features.
Media outlets work on a different time table than, well, pretty much everybody else.
For instance, let’s say it’s October, and you’re thinking about getting your product into a Christmas gift guide, it’s way too late to pitch it to a magazine. The decisions about what products to feature were made months ago. Does that mean it’s too late to get into any Christmas gift guides? Nope—there are still opportunities if you know which media outlets work on which schedules.
Pro tip: I like to create a 12-month pitching schedule for my clients so I never miss a window of opportunity. Working on 6-month chunks to avoid overwhelm, I find out what those outlets want, and when, and build the calendar out backwards. I include time for research, pitch development, mailing samples (for product-based brands), and the pitch and follow up.
So there’s 3 of the biggest mistakes I see business owners make when they want media coverage: they don’t know how to ask, when to ask, or they don’t ask at all!
There’s more information on pitch timing available in my training, Before You Pitch: The Press-Kit-in-a-Day workshop. You’ll also find ideas for strong story concepts, and all the assets you need in place to successfully land media features for your business. It’s free, so snag it now!
Know you’ll want it later? Pin it to win it!