Getting your business noticed in the press is getting harder than ever. As entrepreneurs start companies at a record pace, it’s becoming increasingly challenging for them to garner media attention. How can you establish thought leadership in your industry if you can’t even get anyone to respond to your press release?
Well, the standard publicity process might just be the problem. Many entrepreneurs assume that churning out press releases and distributing them over “the wire” will be enough to have the media beating a path to their doors. In truth, it never really worked that way to begin with, but it certainly isn’t going to work today. Journalists are generally far too busy to comb through endless emails on the slim chance that something interesting might catch their eye.
PR pros know that press releases by themselves are hardly sufficient to garner media attention. According to Cision, 36% of PR specialists surveyed for their State of the Press Release report, worried whether their press releases were making any kind of impact at all.
The most effective PR strategy for 2022 involves a multi-pronged approach that involves consistent media outreach to develop relationships and establish you and your company as a reliable source for what’s happening in the world and in your sector of the economy.
Constant outreach is key
Outreach, in a PR sense, refers to building relationships with media players such as journalists, bloggers, podcasters, even social media “influencers.” PR agents reach out by various means in order to create an ongoing dialogue with journalists, with the ultimate aim of getting their clients featured in publications.
Media outreach has traditionally been the province of PR agencies acting on their clients’ behalf. But there’s nothing stopping you from rolling up your sleeves and reaching out yourself. Who knows your company and its mission better than you do? Try searching for target writers and editors on journalist databases like Muck Rack or Meltwater. Once you’ve got a hit list of journalists to pitch to, you might just introduce yourself to key journalists and highlight your expertise and your willingness to act as a resource. Eventually, you might start pitching particular story angles in which your expertise might be helpful.
Creating tailored outreach emails and messages will allow journalists to really get to know you and your expertise, and far more effectively than the few lines they might find in a news wire. The key word here is “tailored.” The spray-and-pray method of scattering press releases to the four winds simply won’t cut it. If you’re judicious, and don’t waste anyone’s time, you can establish yourself and your company and as a leading voice who can offer commentary on the latest news.
Establish yourself as a go-to source
Journalists are largely pressed for time and operating on tight deadlines. So, it can be hard to get their attention, but it also means that once you have their attention and prove yourself a valuable resource, you can quickly become a go-to contact for commentary and insights.
The first step is to make sure you understand what the publication is looking for. What types of stories do they tend to print? What can you offer that will make you a trusted and valuable source? Rather than making a sales pitch, put yourself in the journalist’s shoes and think about how you can make their job easier. If you reach out with something substantive that the writer or editor can actually use, you’re more likely to gain their attention.
Once you’ve made a connection, the next step is to ensure consistent media outreach featuring credible, useful information. Consistent doesn’t mean daily emails. More important than the frequency of your outreach is the quality of what you have to offer. A survey by Propel revealed that journalists open just 3% of the pitches they receive, so you want to make sure that your outreach is, first and foremost, relevant.
Take the time to customize your pitch to the particular publication you’re pitching to. Journalists are more likely to respond to something that’s aimed directly at them versus a generic boilerplate pitch. The more thought you put into the process, the more likely you’ll establish yourself as a go-to source.
There is, of course, a fine line between consistent communications and making yourself an annoyance. It’s OK to be persistent, but after the second follow-up with no response, you should probably take the hint.
The future of media outreach
Fortunately, there are also emerging technologies that can help you in your outreach process. One of the most exciting is artificial intelligence (AI), which is relatively new to the PR field. AI-powered systems allow you to monitor the media landscape and determine which publications and journalists would be most receptive to your message. AI systems can also monitor open rates and help you focus future outreach efforts on the most receptive journalists.
AI platforms can even predict what topics journalists are likely to cover next. That’s a great advantage when you’re trying to establish yourself as a thought leader. The more you know about what publications are likely to cover, the better you can position yourself as the best person to help journalists put these trends into perspective.
Stephen Marcinuk, Co-founder and Head of Operations at Intelligent Relations, a PR platform that uses artificial intelligence and GPT-powered text generation to augment and improve a variety of PR functions that have traditionally been done by agency professionals.