As a startup, one of the big struggles you will face is how to get the word out about your brand. Brand recognition is a goal that all entrepreneurs aim to achieve, and there are many ways to go about it. While creative ad campaigns and clever marketing can make a difference, one of the best ways to establish your initial reputation is by being featured in the media.
But how do you get media coverage when you are just starting?
According to the United States Census Bureau, nearly 5.4 million new business applications were filed during the 2021 calendar year. That’s 5.4 million brands trying to make their mark, attract media attention, and build a reputation. So, how are you going to stand out?
Attracting media attention is a great opportunity, especially for startups. In this article, we are going to look at seven ways that you can engage journalists and media outlets, earn media coverage, and build a solid brand reputation with minimal or no budget:
- Write a Press Release
- Email a Unique and Customized Pitch
- Introduce Yourself on Social Media
- Contact Specific Journalists or Reporters by Phone
- Pitch Media on Help a Reporter Out (HARO)
- Attract Media Attention Using Content Marketing
- Get Involved Locally
Write a Press Release
One of the most direct routes for reaching out to the media is to write a press release. Brands often use this technique to showcase major events or milestones in their business. An effective press release is short and sweet at approximately 400-600 words.
When you finish writing your press release, you can submit it to thousands of media outlets for consideration through PRWeb or PR Newswire.
Email a Unique and Customized Pitch
Rather than waiting for journalists and media organizations to find you and your startup, why not reach out and put yourself in their inbox? This approach is commonly done by pitching journalists and reporters through a carefully worded email. Unfortunately, one of the biggest mistakes business owners make when pitching is sending out a copy and paste pitch to everyone in the hopes that someone will pick it up. As a result, journalists get hundreds of these template-style pitches and often delete them.
Instead, take the time to write a unique pitch for each journalist. Before writing, take some time to read through the articles previously written by that journalist so that you better understand the topics they focus on and how they approach a story. This research will give you some insight to help you write a pitch highlighting why their audience wants to hear your story and how you can provide value.
Your email should share some context on who you are and why they should be interested in what you have to offer. At the same time, you want to keep your pitch concise and to the point. Be upfront about what you pitch and why the editor receiving your email should be interested in covering it. According to The State of Journalism 2020, over 60% of journalists prefer to receive pitches no longer than three paragraphs.
Introduce Yourself on Social Media
Leveraging social media to reach the media is an underrated strategy. Too often, social media is seen only as a marketing tool, but it’s also a great campaign tool when you get creative.
To begin, write a clear and concise bio on each social media platform that you use. Then, when connecting with reporters, don’t just jump to pitching your brand as a story. Instead, use the platform as an opportunity to connect and engage with journalists and media personnel with whom you want to work.
Like building a relationship with a sales lead, connecting with reporters on social media starts with establishing a connection. You want to be proactive in getting to know them and building a relationship while introducing your new business and its purpose. Not only will this help you to get the attention of the media in the beginning, but it will also create working relationships that can help you in the future with new product launches, announcing brand events, and other newsworthy developments.
Contact Specific Journalists or Reporters by Phone
If there are certain media outlets or journalists that you want to work with, you may wish to make it a priority to reach out to them individually. Journalists and reporters receive email pitches and social media messages every day. A great way to make yourself stand out is to take the time to contact each of these individuals by phone.
First, list the journalists, reporters, and media outlets you consider the most important for sharing your brand’s story. Some factors include the publications that they write for, their location and their writing style. Next, find a phone number for each media contact on your list.
Finally, set aside a day to make some phone calls. Make sure each conversation is unique to the person you are contacting.
Pitch Media on Help a Reporter Out (HARO)
Another simple (and FREE) way to earn media attention is by pitching reporters on the Help A Reporter Out (HARO) website. Journalists working on a story in your industry will share a query explaining what information they need.
It could be an answer to a specific question or a quote for a piece they are writing. You can pitch the reporter if you see a query that you believe fits your expertise well. The goal is to help them know that you would be the right expert for their recent piece, earning free press coverage for you and your brand.
Attract Media Attention Using Content Marketing
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.” When discussing content marketing, the audience in question is usually an audience of potential clients you hope to attract. However, that’s not the only opportunity to use content marketing to your advantage.
Create content that will showcase your knowledge and expertise to attract the media’s attention when covering topics related to your industry. You win the attention you’re seeking by positioning yourself as an expert in your field.
What content can you create to showcase your competence? This content includes written, video, and audio content such as blog posts, newsletters, emails, and social media posts. Create high-quality content answering common questions or solving problems within your industry. You will come to mind as an expert when journalists work on a piece related to your profession.
Get Involved Locally
Is your startup a locally based business? Pay careful attention to any events that may be occurring in your area that would attract media attention while also aligning with your brand. For example, if you want to build rapport and trust with your clients (and potential clients), you may wish to speak at a local convention or industry event.
Speaking to an audience in your niche helps you to showcase your knowledge and expertise. If you are more focused on introducing your brand to the community and local media, try volunteering with your staff at a local charitable event. You can showcase how many of you are present from your company by having staff wear company swag or brand colors. And once you manage to build that initial connection, don’t stop. Send simple gestures of appreciation such as thank you cards to let your audience feel that your brand is human. People love brands that connect with them on a personal level.
If you want to make a splash in your community, why not plan your event? Designing your event will ensure the connection between the event and your company is clear and your involvement is noticed. At the same time, you can make a difference and build a reputation that will showcase your startup in the best light possible.
By focusing on these seven strategies, you can position your startup in a way that will attract journalists and media organizations.
This approach will help you build a brand reputation, highlight your expertise, and begin to establish notoriety in your industry. It’s an investment today that will continue to pay off for years down the road.