For any brand, earned media is a must for any profitable PR campaign. This is doubly true when you are a business with very stiff competition, in an industry with strict regulations, or if you are just starting out and trying to get a toehold in a crowded marketplace.But how can you gain effective earned media if you are the new guy on the block, or if you are trying to gain some traction in a crowded marketplace? The basic answer is to build relationships with key media figures and influencers that connect with your target demographic. And, sure, that sounds great, but how do you accomplish this?
Seek Specific Channels
One of the biggest rookie mistakes you can make is email blasting anyone and everyone with a media connection. Sure, that may get you some results, but your ultimate goal should be about building a relationship with key media figures and influencers, not just getting a single headline published or broadcast. To accomplish this, you need to be selective in who you seek to connect with. Go in with the understanding that most media figures are incessantly bombarded with content they have no interest in. This leads them to be quick on the delete button. That doesn’t mean they’re jaded, only that they only have so many hours in the day, and they can’t waste time reading stories they will never publish.
Find a publication or site that caters to your target market, and look for journalists or other media figures that tell stories about products or services like yours. Sure, that narrows your field of potential outlets, but it also concentrates your efforts on people who may actually be interested in what you have to offer them.
Be a Source Not a Nuisance
Remember what we said earlier about building a relationship. All relationships are built on trust. If a media figure knows they can trust you to bring quality, timely content, they will be much more receptive to your submissions.
This means you need to consider not only which stories you submit, but how you submit them and when you submit them. Media is a deadline-driven, news-cycle-curated business. Your best bet for getting powerful earned media is to be on point and right on time. The key here is to find a way to connect your story with something that will immediately catch the interest of the audience of the publication or media figure you are targeting.
If you have questions or you’re not sure what you chosen media outlet is looking for, the easy way to learn is to ask them. Read up on the kinds of stories the reporter in question typically publishes and, armed with this information, contact them and ask them the kind of story they’re looking for. Make educated suggestions, but be open to their input. Remember, they have spaces to fill, and this is your opportunity to become their trusted source.
Craft a Compelling Narrative
Finally, and this is the most important, you need to know how to tell a story well, tell it in a succinct, compelling way, and tell it accurately. Story is a craft, so this will take time and practice, but if you put in the work, you can reap the rewards. Skip this step, and you will likely end up in the trash with the other people who tried to take a shortcut to earned media.