Cracking a journalist’s attention on your story isn’t a rocket science, but common sense. The secret is in not promoting but helping them succeed, and using social media to reach directly, instead of hiring traditional PR agencies that journo’s don’t trust any more.
There is a common notion that to get media attention you need to hire a decent PR agency before you can actually get some noteworthy media coverage, while the fact is 180 degree different. Even a traditional PR agency cannot get you the kind of overnight fame that you dream of, if you don’t know how to create a story, worth spreading.
I will cover how to create that story in a subsequent article but in this article I want to share a couple of pointers for you to start doing your own PR, because as a startup you MUST save money, wherever you can, to ensure long term sustainability of your startup.
So back to the topic, how to get attention of a journalists? If you are thinking of hiring a credible PR agency, let me tell you their own credibility is on question these days. Let me in fact show you something.
According to this report published in Ragan.com, as high as 65% journalists felt skeptical about the news seeds by paid PR professional, for the various obvious reason, ie. They are being paid to make a brand look good.
So, in urge to find more legitimate content with first hand research, journalists are online. And they are using social media as primary tool to find out trends, news, and stories for writing inspirations. But there are certain things you need to keep in mind, to sound storified and newsworthy, before hitting them.
1. Yes, They do look online for stories & inspirations but,
That doesn’t mean you can send in any crap and that’ll pick it up. Often time, entrepreneurs get confused on story creation. Story creation isn’t manipulating a promotion to look like news, but story creation is something that you do as side activities of your core business, in order to spread the goodness around.
Like for an example: In recent rainy season, on a heavy rainy day in Mumbai, The Founder of Games2Win, offered his office as shelter to those who were stuck mid way. And that is a story.
Now a journo may not pick it for his company alone, but when many other offices in city started offering it, it became news, and was trending on LinkedIn, and Twitter that day.
Now it certainly became news worth spreading, for journo’s. Social media made it all possible, quickly.
2. They want to be the first, and social media help them.
It should be very obvious why every journo wants to be the first to know about a wonderful story, if not the only one. Because he want to succeed and become top source of good unique stories, and not the top source of stories that every other journalist has too.
So to speed up the news acquisition journo’s look up for online & social news for inspirations, but if you are sending them a story, send different stories to different journalists, and only rotate if unaccepted.
3. They are busy, really.
They aren’t like those LinkedIn contacts who check their notification immediately, but respond to your email later in week, merely to appear “Oh, I don’t have time you know.”, Because journo’s have to write, and write, and write with little or no time to research.
So send your story, and give it a couple of days before following up if they are considering it to go live?
4. They want to be helped with test-the-fact part.
Every journo want to do his or her first hand research on the story you submit because they are held responsible for what they press, but you can make their job easier by sharing the facts & links to depend upon.
At least social media & online easy accessibility has made it easier for them to have a quick look on references and be at least 90% sure of the credibility of your story.
I am understating 90%, I believe.
5. They want to publish something worth public attention.
A story is a story because it has an emotional aspect. Emotion could be anything like sentimental, futuristic, factual or detrimental. So you can either build a social media #hashtag campaign prior to pitching your story to highlight the issue, or you can collect the existing relevant hashtags that are highlighting the issue, and public involvement.
This works as a social proof in favor of your story, and why your story should be heard by many others.
So these are few pointers that you should work upon in order to be covered, but see, why I always believe that founders must be the first point of contact for a journalist is because It builds your rapport with a reporter directly, and that establishes you as a subject matter expert, as a thought leader.
And any journalist will always prefer to quickly reach anyone he or she trusts, instead of reaching a PR agency for connecting.