In my past two posts, I outlined some ways service businesses could market themselves online. Here are some ways to get the attention of mainstream media.
Track media activity.
One of the best ways to get publicity in mainstream media is to track what the reporters are working on and what they need…and give it to them.
Fortunately, that is easy with HARO (Help a Reporter Out). This free service emails notices about what topics reporters are researching, and what kind of information or sources they need.
It’s a great service. The challenge is that it is very popular. So when you find that someone needs some information you can provide, reply quickly. Outline the information and tell the reporters a little bit about yourself. (You want them to understand you are a good resource.)
I have successfully arranged media interviews and generated publicity for clients through the HARO inquiries. A colleague was even mentioned in The Wall Street Journal, thanks to the service. So it’s definitely worth the effort.
Develop story ideas.
Developing story ideas can be an effective way to ingratiate yourself with the editors. Reporters and editors are typically overworked and underpaid. They appreciate it when someone does some of their work for them.
Develop a few ideas so that if the editor doesn’t like the first one, you can suggest another story. “How to’s” are often good, as are stories about trends, personalities and any unusual aspect of your product or service.
What do you do once you have these ideas? For one thing, you can just contact the editor of a publication or website and discuss it with him or her. That’s a little tricky, but can work.
Or you could suggest it as an angle for an editorial calendar topic.
Track editorial calendars.
An editorial calendar is a schedule of the topics publications (and some websites) plan to cover over a period of time. You can often find this information on the publication’s website, usually in the advertising or media kit section.
Two caveats. Editorial calendars change frequently. Topics get deleted, moved or changed. Also, often the editorial calendar just lists topics (e.g., “widgets”), not story angles (e.g., “the growing importance of widgets in medical imaging”).
However, when you find something that “fits” (or might fit) your company, contact the reporter. Find out if he or she has a specific angle in mind. If not, suggest something. (That’s one reason you developed all those stories ideas.) If the publication takes contributed articles, volunteer to write it. Otherwise, offer to be a source of information for the article.
I have successfully maintained PR programs for clients based almost exclusively on “working” the editorial calendars. You can do the same.
I’ll cover some more suggestions for dealing with the mainstream media in my next post.