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I’ve been in public relations for over 15 years, and in that time, it feels like I’ve seen and heard it all. But what I hear the most — what drives so many people to reach out to my PR firm inquiring about services — is concern about the competition snagging more media coverage than they’ve gotten: “How did my chief competitor get in all these publications? Why isn’t the same thing happening for me when I know what I’m doing is better?”
Well, the answer lies in publicity. In today’s marketplace, PR is the name of the game, and its star player is the media — collectively, in all its forms: newspapers, magazines, online publications, radio, podcasts and blogs, not just the omnipresent social platforms. We’re all chasing media attention because it’s key to our paramount business objectives: namely, to get “out there,” get eyes and ears on our messaging and to become a household name, a recognizable and trusted brand.
How can you do that? How can you get the word out and run ahead of your competitors in the race? I’m here to tell you there are ways!
Six tactics to garner news coverage
It might seem like the media is some faraway, unattainable force you can’t access from your humble desk. But it’s not. It’s a grist mill that needs constant feeding — a perpetual stream of content to publish — to make it go. You can get into the mix by being aware of certain “rules of the game” and employing proven methods that drastically increase your chances of securing the kind of press you seek.
Strategy #1: Take advantage of owned media
Sure, everyone hankers after earned media, the kind of publicity and exposure you get from coverage produced about you by others, but to neglect the influence of owned media would be a huge mistake. A lot of this is “pay to play,” but it’s still a great way to get your foot in the door; plus, it gives you control over creation and content.
Now, knowing which outlets to approach and with whom to approach them is a different matter than just paying for your own placements. That’s why I highly recommend hiring a first-rate PR team to advocate on your behalf: They know which foot to put forward and which doors to knock upon.
Strategy #2: Understand the role of timing
Like almost anything else in life, PR coverage depends greatly on timing. Not just learning how to spot a growing trend and strike while the iron is hot, but having the patience and commitment to put in the work required to publicize your brand and repeatedly persevering until you see an ROI.
It’s possible that your competitor was just plucked from the pile and chosen for star status. But it’s highly improbable. More likely, their representation sent email after email, dialed and then redialed until it was finally an opportune time for the media to answer their call. So keep knocking. Over and over and over. Eventually, the time will be right to put you in the spotlight.
Strategy #3: Play up your angle
In this worldwide sphere of media promotion, you don’t just pitch to pitch — you’ve got to have an angle, a unique perspective or a standout feature that will “sell” your story to media outlets. The media doesn’t just “buy” your story because you’ve crafted one. Things don’t work like that.
Rather, the media plays off public interest (whether we’re talking earned or owned media), which will hit home with the greatest number of people. Just like you, the media needs viewers and listeners, too, to stay in business. So stay away from content that sounds like ads and instead keep coming up with inventive and catchy ways to appeal to the largest market possible. Talk to any billiards champion: The angle wins the game.
Strategy #4: Leverage the power of “new” in news
This is a mantra in PR: You need something new in the story to make it newsworthy. Whether it’s a product launch, the announcement of an award you won, or the addition of a new staff member, your job (or, better yet, the job of the publicist you hire to manage relations for you) is to amp up what’s fresh and novel about your news item, what you’re bringing to the market that no one else has in quite the same way.
Shock and surprise, amaze and awe — do what you have to do to grab the audience’s attention and evoke a reaction. Continued interest in your brand is what will make it grow.
Strategy #5: Keep your brand polished
When you generate interest, when the media returns your call, you want to be totally ready to wow them. That means ensuring your website is top-notch and fully aligned with your image. That means staying active on social media — having an online presence and a method to generate followers. It means ensuring that your promotional assets and campaigns represent you to a tee so that the media is equipped with accurate messaging and up-to-date content to cover.
The media doesn’t necessarily accept PR pitches at face value; they do some sleuthing and vetting of their own before endorsing you to their own followers or deciding if you’re a good fit for their subscribers. Your competitors won’t have the same model as yours and maybe not even the same goals, so be sure to have your brand down pat so the media understands what distinguishes you from the pack.
Strategy #6: Go for visual impact
Never underestimate the potency of imagery to elicit engagement. The right photo is worth more than a thousand words … Be sure that the graphics you post on your social pack a punch, that your materials are visually alluring and that your website is designed as well as it’s written. Be relevant and innovative. Be smart and swanky. Be bold and brilliant.
It can be very upsetting when a competitor of yours pops up all over the news when you still feel relatively undiscovered and when what they’re doing or selling is not superior to what you’re offering. But start with these six strategies to draw more media coverage, and you’ll be pulling out in front of the competition in record time!