It’s every entrepreneur’s dream: to see your business’s name in lights. But with thousands of companies competing in hundreds of verticals for the same limited number of column inches, blog posts and precious seconds of airtime, let’s level: It’s not easy to score the precious publicity boost that placement in your local newspaper or an influential website can provide. Nor, for that matter, is avoiding the trap of becoming yesterday’s news.
However, the upside for even the leanest startups is that these days, it doesn’t take massive marketing and public relations budgets or lavish events to generate serious ink. Mind you, there’s no one simple strategy for breaking into every outlet–each is actually a broad collection of self-contained sections staffed by a unique team of reporters with various backgrounds, interests and needs. But employ the simple tips below, and who knows? You too could soon be making headlines.
1. Get your story straight
Ask yourself: What makes my company unique? Because with countless rivals out there competing for the same space, what’s to make an editor choose you out of a sea of faceless competitors? Knowing this, it’s imperative that you instantly set yourself apart from the pack in journalists’ minds. Look at things from their perspective–they need to immediately identify compelling stories, then condense and translate these gems into digestible nuggets that anyone can enjoy. So start by picking three attributes, or unique sales points, that present your case and weaving them into a compelling narrative, which makes it fast and simple to see where a potential fit lies.
2. Perfect your pitch
Decided how you want to present yourself? Great–now brush up on that elevator pitch and figure out how to do it in 30 seconds or less. Because that’s roughly the amount of attention you’ll get from a journalist if you’re lucky, given how under the gun today’s reporters are. The lesson here: Whatever you have to say, keep it short and sweet. Because the second it starts coming out of your mouth, listeners will already be vetting the topic’s potential, knowing it’ll have to both make sense to and hook readers/viewers in even less time–e.g., two sentences or less.
3. Tailor for every outlet
Repeat to yourself until it sinks in: One size does not fit all when it comes to pitching media outlets. Every publication effectively has its own singular approach and voice when it comes to covering topics, and actually consists of a collection of numerous smaller vehicles (front-of-book sections, feature wells, etc.) that do so in varied ways. Likewise, every editor and reporter has their own way of tackling these tasks, meaning it pays to read up on and be intimately familiar with both the magazine and specific section you’re angling for a spot in. Always bear in mind that different audiences have different needs, as well: You wouldn’t provide seasoned HR professionals with the same spiel that you would a readership of casual job seekers. By keeping these points in mind and pitching a section and article format that properly aligns with the story you’re promoting, you’ll avoid being discounted as a poor fit right off the bat.