While the components of a strategic and successful public relations program have evolved over the years, media relations remains the cornerstone of most communications initiatives. The third-party validation that comes with great media coverage is a proven method for companies looking to build awareness and thought leadership.
But, of course, not all media outlets are created equal.
Emerging companies — the challenger brands that Tier One loves to bring onto the national stage — sometimes mistakenly believe that coverage in major publications or broadcast news outlets like The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Fast Company or the Today Show is too lofty a goal. But as the song goes, it ain’t necessarily so.
At Tier One, we pride ourselves on helping our clients secure the kind of super-sized media coverage top brands enjoy. Here are a few secrets of our success and how your company can punch above its weight when it comes to the big hits.
Take the Time to Research Contacts
Baseball players spend weeks in spring training for a reason: important, up-front preparation helps them be successful throughout the season. PR pros need to put that same time and preparation into building media lists. Don’t rely purely on media database tools like Cision as the basis for identifying your contacts.
Pick up publications and watch or listen to TV and radio programs to really understand their coverage and identify who your best contacts might be. Do the reporters behind these stories like to speak with vendors or do they prefer conversations with the end users who can speak to the benefits a particular product offers their company? Does a publication accept contributed content? If so, in what form? Bylines? Op-eds? Getting smart upfront helps you craft a successful media strategy.
Set a High Bar
Be ambitious when laying out your media strategy. Not everything warrants major national business coverage or a big piece in a technology trade publication, but always be thinking with ambitious goals. Does your story support a major national trend? Has a reporter been covering the topic, but your company could point out a new twist? Do you have customers who are seeing real success and willing to share their stories? Don’t settle for middling coverage — always aim high.
Break Away From Copycat Storytelling
How does your company’s story differ from what everyone else in the market is saying? A unique (or even contrarian) viewpoint or approach to a solution goes a long way in helping a business rise above the noise and get noticed. Just be sure to always back up your media storytelling with valid proof points.
Do Some Newsjacking
Whether it’s a hot story like Facebook’s data protection practices or a trend like A.I. that’s all the rage in the media, newsjacking is all about inserting your brand into the current conversation. This approach offers a company the opportunity to share a new perspective when people are paying the most attention. For instance, perhaps your organization is involved in the data space, but in a tangential area like data governance. Do some quick research to see who’s been writing stories about Facebook, develop a perspective your company can share, and pick up the phone to offer one of your corporate leaders as an expert resource. Because news cycles evolve so quickly, timeliness is key to this strategy.
Landing a big story is a great way to help any company look larger than life. Reporters often like to be the ones to “discover” the next disruptive company and won’t discriminate if your company is small but adds value to their reporting. So do your upfront homework, aim high, and think creatively: the opportunity for major coverage is yours for the taking.