How to Win Friends and Get Press Coverage
This is an excerpt from The Ultimate PR Machine – a course that’s helping startups to get the media coverage that they need. Click here to join our growing community of DIY startup teams that are making the news.
Imagine that someone walks up to you and says, “Can I ask you for a favor?”
What’s your reaction?
If you’re like most of us, chances are that your reaction would vary a great deal – depending upon who was asking the question.
If it’s a random stranger, then your mind would probably be scrambling for a way to say “Sorry…” and move on. But what if the requester is a friend, or even an acquaintance who’s maybe helped you out in the past?
Then your response will probably be, “Sure…what is it?”
When it comes to PR, it’s the same thing. You have a story that needs to be told, but it’s important to ask yourself whether the recipients of that story – journalists, writers, and bloggers, are going to be responsive to your pitch.
Would they want to do you a favor, and check out your story – if they’ve never even heard of you?
Your best chances of getting coverage for your story depend directly upon your relationship with the journalist in question. And it’s important that you’ve established a rapport or connection with them before pitching to them cold.
Building Relationships: The Human Side of PR
Building relationships with journalists is a step that many PR reps and startups skip. Relationships take time, and work. It’s much easier to pitch at random and hope for the best. But while mass pitching to strangers may work occasionally, the fact is that this approach is more likely to cause harm, reducing your chances of getting coverage in the future.
Remember: journalists are people too. If you develop a reputation for spamming them with news that they aren’t interested in, or stories that are unrelated to their particular niche – there’s a very real possibility that you’re going to find yourself blacklisted. (Ouch.)
This isn’t to say that building a rapport is impossible. In fact, it’s absolutely worth the time and effort it takes to develop the relationships, as they’ll pay your startup back in spades over time. Building relationships with journalists is akin to building your promotion team. Pitching relevant content that helps feed their cause will encourage them to cover you more and more often.
Start Connecting Today
It’s time to start making allies. This means tracking down journalists that write for publications that you’d like coverage with, and reaching out to writers, bloggers, influencers, and otherwise well-connected people that you would like to have feature your company.
It’s a good idea to start connecting with writers at least a couple of months ahead of launch time. This will give you a chance to get to know the writers, and allow them to get to know you.
Tips to Build Strong Relationships With Journalists
Once you’ve found an interesting writer, who covers news related to your story, introduce yourself. Connect on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or real life – and establish a connection. Trust me; it’s much better than pitching to them cold, and if you take the time to develop a rapport, your chances of getting coverage will skyrocket.
- Follow their social media accounts
- Set aside time to interact with them on social media
- Start conversations on Twitter
- Comment on their blog posts
- Share their work
- Consider sending them links to news stories that they may find interesting (Unrelated to your company, of course)
- Run a compilation story and feature one of their articles
- Meet up with them for coffee (If they’re local)
It’s all about developing relationships, and building your connections.
One final tip: never pitch to journalists immediately after befriending them. It’s rude, and it will ruin your newly established rapport! Always wait at least a few weeks before asking for favors.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the concept of making connections out of thin air – don’t be. You’ll have a few rejections, but that’s life. The relationships that you build will be more than worth it!
Remember, your success will be dependent upon the quality of the connections that you make. You’ll have more luck building actual relationships with three writers, rather than cold-pitching to dozens of journalists that you don’t know. Choose three or four writers and get started today!
Ready to use the power of the press to get your startup media coverage? Your success in pitching to the media boils down to a few basic, yet vital principles. For an insider look check out The Ultimate PR Machine – a six-book course complete with assignments, that will give you everything you need to facilitate successful media coverage for your company. Get your startup noticed – in a big way!