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The pandemic has shown entrepreneurs that going digital is more important than ever. Whether it’s by building your social media audience or creating an ecommerce site, business owners need to meet their customers where they shop most — online.
Getting press for your brand is one of the best ways to leverage your online presence and market your direct-to-consumer brand. A relevant feature about your company can bring more traffic to your site and generate sales, followers, and loyal customers.
But it’s not an easy task for founders who have to wear multiple hats and may not have the time or resources to dedicate to outreach, said Adrienne Garland, founder of She Leads Media, a company that specializes in helping female entrepreneurs market their businesses.
“Small business owners face the challenge of being lost in a sea of content,” she told Business Insider, “so it’s critically important that they have a super compelling, unique value proposition and know their target inside and out.”
Michelle Isaacs is the founder of 22 Spring, a creative communications agency that represents celeb-founded companies like Derek Jeter’s Player’s Tribune and Stephen Curry’s Unanimous Media.
Garland and Isaacs each have more than 10 years of experience in public relations, communications, and marketing. The two founders told us their best practices that place clients in major and local publications.
Here are their top five tips for landing press for your brand.
1. Know your objectives
Identify your priorities before you promote your business. For example, featuring a particular product might drive sales, while a profile on your founder might have a long term effect on your brand reputation and following.
Garland asks her clients to clearly outline their goals and objectives as a business before starting any media outreach.
Isaacs worked for GQ magazine and Player’s Tribune before starting her own public relations company, so she understands what editors and journalists look for. Knowing what differentiates your brand will help you tell your story, she said. “A good story builds that connection between consumers and the brand.”
2. Understand the publication
Before pitching a reporter, it’s important to know what they cover and how the publication approaches stories. Garland reads at least 10 to 15 articles a day to keep her finger on the pulse of the industry.
“When you reimagine based on things that are out there in the media already, and if you can fit your story into that type of context, that’s where new opportunities come up,” Garland said. She also suggested that founders who are strapped for time hire an intern or assistant to do the initial research, then select a few outlets to focus on.
Isaacs pointed out that not all press coverage brings equal value. Sometimes, a brand may only need one really good story rather than a press storm.
3. Build relationships with journalists
Both Garland and Isaacs stressed the importance of developing genuine relationships with journalists. Building a personal connection with a reporter will help you craft your pitch to fit their work and place you on top of mind when they’re looking for sources.
Isaacs said it can take several months for a story to come together, so an introductory coffee can be a good way to plant the seed for something later down the road. Even without a story, staying in touch with journalists can keep you at the top of their minds so they may reach out if anything comes up.
4. Personalize every pitch
Media professionals are already inundated with pitches daily, so it’s challenging to stand out in their inboxes. Blasting out a press release or generic announcement is one of the biggest mistakes brands can make, Garland said. Instead, emails should be tailored to the journalist.
Give all the facts and credentials about your brand upfront, so the reporter will have all the information they need to determine whether it’s a story worth pursuing. Understanding the publication and getting to know reporters will also help with this step.
“If you can find a way to cut through that clutter and immediately demonstrate that you can add value and make their jobs and their lives easier, the more success that you’ll have,” Garland said.
Isaacs advised steering clear of anything that comes off as transactional, inauthentic, or opportunistic in an attempt to insert yourself into the news cycle, as seen in many companies’ Black Lives Matter posts this summer. Instead, pursue stories that already align with your brand values and initiatives.
5. Utilize tools to forward the story
Garland regularly uses Twitter and Help A Reporter Out (HARO), a platform for journalists to find sources, to connect with journalists and pinpoint unique angles that haven’t been told yet. Find new ways to talk about your brand instead of telling the same story over and over again.
“It’s important for people to evolve their brand story as the company grows and scales because the press does not want to cover a story that’s already been written about in some way a million times before,” Isaacs said. SEE ALSO: 5 steps to navigate brand messaging in a time of civil unrest so you don’t lose customer trust
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