Expert Round-Up: How do you get placements with media

The value that earned media brings to an organization is critical to getting the word out about your products and services. When you have a startup which is getting an angel investment or venture capital, then you must allocate some money towards growth. Having a well-designed and functioning product is not enough if you do not have any customers. This is why the function of public relations is essential in building value for your brand.

How do you get placements with media

Outreaching to the media is not rocket science but does require a bit of intelligence in dealing with people. You need to understand how to work with editors, journalists, and know the guidelines for the publication. You want to make sure that you are contacting someone on their preferred method of receiving pitches. For example, some journalists love receiving pitches from Twitter and others through email. Everyone is different, so learn about them on social media. Also, make sure that you pitch to a journalist who is covering your industry. You do not want to pitch a tech product to someone covering sports.

There are so many different tactics that you can use to get placements with media. We invited several professionals in the public relations industry to provide their thoughts on getting earned media. We want to thank our experts for participating in this discussion and encourage you to visit their website to learn more about them.

Expert: Shineade Andric

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As Head of Media Communications at Neue Media, I work with brands and companies of varying scale to better achieve their publicity goals. I would say the key ways to gain traction in this area are:

  • Familiarise yourself with the publications you want to appear in and get to know the journalists who are covering topics relevant to your business
  • Tailor your content and pivot your story accordingly, make it relevant for the individual journalist and publication
  • Customised/personalised pitches outperform generic press releases and blanket send outs every time

Expert: Judy Sahay

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We get asked this question at least three times a week. I am the founder and managing director of Crowd Media Group, a digital/PR agency.

Here are my top 3 tips.

  1. ride the wave – get media publicity based on current contentious issues. If there is an event or breaking news about a particular topic, use your brand/personal brand to comment.
  2. Have an opinion – you need to have an opinion on something if you want to be seen/heard. Most people play it “safe” and talk about the things that people want to hear. I think it’s important to shake it up a bit, stand out from the crowd.
  3. Understand the publication and the journalist well. It’s essential you know the audience/readership of the publications you’re after. Make sure you do your research and see how your story can be relevant to them.

Expert: Nicole Ashby

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I’ve been interviewed by the media hundreds of times with my first business, FIFO Families. I’ve had no official media training yet quickly learned how to navigate the world of the media, how to pitch a great story, how to maintain relationships and what to do with the media interviews once you’ve got them.

I have many, many tips on how to successfully get placements with the media and here are a few:

  1. Know your story
  2. Where possible, have a great human angle within your story (pretty easy to do if you’re human)
  3. Know when the best time is to contact the media
  4. Always show gratitude for your interviews
  5. Keep feeding the media great stories
  6. Ensure you have a great hook to entice the press
  7. Know and learn how to write a well-crafted media release as it’s your best bet to media success if the media have no idea who you are

Expert: Marie O’Riordan, MPRCA MAM

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Thought Leadership is what every business leader needs to aspire to. Press quotes form a valuable part of carefully nurturing and developing a highly credible thought leader profile. Universally, journalists are curious and intrigued to speak with experts who can predict what is going to happen next in their industry. What I term, Futurism and the crystal ball effect, are powerful catalysts for authoritative mentions. The broader the scope of the predictions, the better. Take Noel Moran, CEO of FinTech PFS. He left school at 17 with no qualifications. This month, he will be showcased at Davos 2019 in Switzerland by European CEO as the current European Entrepreneur of the Year.

Expert: Laurie Monteforte

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Business owners should first take an honest look at what they want to pitch and make sure they have a newsworthy angle. That means they should focus on something that will be interesting to an outlet’s readers or viewers, not just to themselves.

I’m a big fan of personal outreach. Insincere, mass pitching can turn reporters off. Get to know your local reporters so you can reach out to them one-on-one when you have a good story.

Expert: Hannah O’Donnell

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  1. Know who you are contacting: pull together your wish list of media publications where you would like to appear, find the editors contact details and reach out and ask them if they would like to grab a tea (or coffee – whatever your drink of choice is). It’s important to get to know the media you want to work with and create rapport.
  2. Know the publication you are pitching to: it pays to buy and read a copy of the publication you want to appear in, or make sure you’ve checked out the TV show, website, and listened to the radio show or podcast you would like to be on. Then when you pitch your story, understand who the audience is that will be consuming your news (so who you are talking to) ensuring that it’s highly relevant for them and your pitch is targeted – no one wants to receive a generic pitch that’s been forwarded to the world.
  3. Don’t limit yourself to just traditional media: consider influencers on social media who would be relevant and able to share your message and news. If you have a product, then gift it to your top tier influencers who you would like to work with. Just make sure you reach out to them directly and find out first if it’s of interest before sending them a product. These people get a lot of goods, but the authentic influencers will only post if they feel like the product reflects their values and they are genuinely interested in it. Some will also request to be paid for a post – so keep this in mind and allow budget for this.

Expert: Amy Teutenberg

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With publishing houses closing their doors by the minute and mergers announced left right and centre – the Nine/Fairfax merger late last year being a prime example, it’s more important than ever that companies see media relations as a long term, strategic program – not something that can be switched off and on when budget allows.

Understanding the best ways to increase your media presence takes time, and one of the biggest reasons companies fail is because they assume it’s as simple as writing a release and clicking ‘send’ to a thousand journalists in BCC.

Think about it like this: how often do you respond positively to a cold caller salesperson? The answer is, almost never, and the same can be said for media relations.

Here are my top tips for gaining traction in the media:

  1. Relationships are everything. It’s true what they say – it’s not always what you know, but who you know. Make sure you develop a genuine relationship with journalists by continually providing them with quality, newsworthy, and timely content. This will ensure you become their go-to person for that particular area of expertise. Getting to know how they prefer to be pitched to (do they prefer email over phone pitches?) and understanding the topics, they’re personally passionate about will open up new lines of communication and make you stand out from the crowd. Also, taking them for coffee never goes astray. Putting a face to the name will likely increase the chances of them being willing to lend a hand to get a story across the line.
  2. Give them an article, not a paragraph. Journalists are increasingly time poor and are looking to PR professionals to present them with the bigger picture. This means it’s important to think of the broader story your news fits into. Rather than simply pitching news from a recent funding round, think about why this might be of interest to their reader. For example, what does it say about the broader industry you operate in? Can you pull in new research that backs up industry growth and proves the market appetite for your product or service?
  3. Be prepared to workshop. Don’t get stuck on one angle for your story. Instead, be prepared to workshop ideas with the journalist and be flexible. To set yourself up for success, always look into what the journalist has previously written about and use this as a starting point to pique their interest. Make sure you have multiple angles and sets of talking points ready (if pitching an interview), so you can easily pivot based on their feedback.
  4. Do your research. It’s not enough to know what your company wants to say or be known for in the media. To successfully pitch media, you need to know what your competitors are talking about. This will help you determine how you can talk about the same thing in a way that is more interesting, more topical or takes a stronger stance. This means workshopping the angles your business and spokespeople are experts in and crafting something unique before you start talking to media.
  5. Don’t act like a salesperson. Don’t pitch something for the sake of pitching it if you don’t believe it or think it will be of interest to simply tick a box. If you’re genuinely passionate about it, this will come through in your pitch. It will also mean you’re less likely to sound ‘scripted’ if pitching on the phone.

Expert: Bill McCue

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I get placements with the media by doing my homework and knowing which reporters are specifically writing about industries and topics that are a match with my clients’ news and expertise.

Expert: Marisa Vallbona, APR, Fellow PRSA

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My team and I work hard to maintain good relationships with reporters, editors, and producers, checking in with them frequently to find out what they’re working on and how we can help them, even if the news and sources they need are not our clients. By always being available and helpful, especially on last-minute stories when they’re in a bind, the media remembers and are more open to client pitches. If we don’t already have a relationship with the editor, reporter or producer, we research the types of stories they cover and how they cover them so that we can deliver what works best for them, and then make sure we provide the story in a package that gives them the least amount of work possible.

Expert: Gail Fitzer

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By writing news releases and pitches like news stories as only a former journalist could. And through persistent media outreach and smart media strategy.

Expert: Stu Campbell-Carran

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It’s a combination of having well-written compelling content that generates a reaction and working with editorial teams in partnership to secure placements that resonate with their audiences.

Expert: Courtney Lukitsch

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Self-generated as we are a leading global Marketing PR firm with high profile Clients

Expert: Todd Barrish

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There is a trick to the trade of media relations. We find the most effective way to secure media, is to understand the media outlet and reporter you are targeting truly. You can’t fake it. Understanding the publications focus and editorial mission as well as the reporter’s style and coverage area will allow you to craft a pitch that is strategic, well thought out and in-line with what they may be looking for.

Expert: John McLeod

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I have built up a considerable network with the media during the last twelve years advising companies for Public Relations.

Expert: Sabrina Ram

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To get placements with the media, you must ensure there is something newsworthy that you are trying to share and then tailor it to the outlet you are trying to get coverage in. If you are launching a new product, you should be able to answer how it changes the industry you are in, how it benefits consumers differently than products already out in the market, and how this story appeals to a specific media outlet and their audience. If you can’t answer these questions, it’s in your best interest to hold the story until you can flesh it out and make it more appealing.

Expert: Lisa Hagendorf

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Generating media coverage for my clients, nearly all of which are tech startups, is achieved in three main ways: (1) Pitching breaking news, such as product launches, conference appearances, senior-level hires, and office expansions; (2) Newsjacking current events and strategically tying in my client’s offerings to demonstrate their timely relevance; (3) Securing bylined content opportunities, positioning them as industry thought leaders and enabling them to share their unique points of view.

Expert: Sarah Storelli

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I secure stories based on relationships – not transactions – I build with reporters and by truly understanding their areas of not only interest but passion.

Author: Ricky Singh, MBA

Editor of The Startup Growth.

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