How to Get Media Coverage Beyond “Buzz”

Wendy TownleyA few friends of mine who are preparing to announce a new project have asked about building and maintaining local media lists.

Although social media has proven wildly successful at building interest and buzz, a home still exists for traditional media relations. And the way to receive media coverage is to start with a strong media list, and good relationships with reporters.

I read somewhere once that media relations is sometimes viewed as the “selling” of news, and reporters and editors act as the customers. This is certainly true. Customers shop with organizations they respect, and who understand their needs.

The same is said when working with the media.

Reporters want story ideas from individuals and groups who understand how news is covered and delivered, and who know the value of their time. For every press release or story idea pitched via email, literally hundreds more are vying for that reporter’s attention.

It is imperative to start with a fine-tuned media list. Identify reporters in your area who are interested in hearing (and writing about) your story. To do this, simply open your eyes and your ears. Target the media outlets in your area or those who would most likely write about you and your work. Then, follow each media outlet closely. Which reporter writes about your industry? Who is best suited to tell your story?

If you’re not sure after reading/watching/listening to the news, just call the media outlets themselves. When you call, ask to be transferred to the newsroom. In a brief sentence or two, request from whomever answers the phone the reporter who would be most appropriate in hearing from you.

You may not get the right person the first time. And that’s OK. Remember to be polite, remain calm and understand that a little legwork can yield media coverage that can reach eyes and ears well beyond the boundaries of social media.

Have your story pitch in-hand when you are connected to the reporter. And again, keep your comments brief. A busy reporter will dismiss callers who want to spend 20 minutes on the phone on why a new widget deserves coverage.

Allow the reporter the freedom to do his or her job, and simply guide them on the journey of learning more about you and why you’re worthy of media coverage.

I often advise small businesses to maintain an electronic media list, so managing updates can be a breeze. The next time you’re ready to seek out media coverage, you can rely on your media contacts and update the names of new reporters as necessary.

BTW: In the Marketing Mentor “Marketing Plan + Calendar” created exclusively for Creative Professionals, PR and publicity are suggested for “advanced” marketers. See how to integrate them into your marketing plan, especially if you’re using “thought leadership” to position yourself as an expert in your field.