From feature stories to quick mentions in relevant articles, getting your online content covered by a popular newspaper, magazine or blog is a great way to strengthen your brand and reach a huge online audience.
The only problem is that it’s hard - really hard - for most startups, entrepreneurs and marketers to attract the attention of the media.
Until recently, attracting media coverage required one of two things: a press release, or a press conference.
While any marketer can afford to write and distribute a press release, few get noticed. Leading press release distribution services send out thousands of new releases a day, the vast majority of which are quickly glanced at by journalists before being discarded.
Press conferences might be better at attracting attention, but they’re prohibitively expensive for most small businesses and require noteworthy news that appeals not just to a small audience, but to the general public.
Luckily, there’s another way to get your content in front of journalists, bloggers and mainstream media influencers.
By understanding how journalists and bloggers find things to write about, you can market your content not to appeal to a wide audience, but to appeal to a specific audience of people capable of spreading your message further. You can also download our free ebook to find out the essential skills you need to maximize the impact of your content marketing.
Below, we’ve put together a simple strategy that you can use to locate journalistic “hotspots” in your industry, discover which content is most likely to spread, and strategically share your new content to deliberately attract the attention of journalists.
Whether you have a case study to share, an opinion piece to spread or a new product you’d like to promote, read on to learn how you can get your content in front of media influencers and earn huge amounts of exposure you’d normally have to pay for.
Understand how journalists find new content
25 years ago, journalists found stories using two methods:
- By reading press releases distributed via wire services or mailed to their newsroom
- By performing investigative research to find stories on their own
Today, things are a little different. The internet means that journalists no longer need to spend hours reading press releases to find stories that could be “hot” - instead, they can find stories that are already hot online.
The key to getting your content in front of journalists is understanding where they source their stories.
Technology journalists, such as writers for TechCrunch and Tech.co, often source stories from websites like Product Hunt, social communities like Hacker News and niche-specific subreddits like r/technology.
Business bloggers find new startups to cover by scanning subreddits like r/entrepreneur. Sales and marketing journalists find interesting ad campaigns, case studies and blog posts by looking at communities like Inbound.org to see what people are already sharing.
Interestingly, many journalists use their competitors to find stories. Technology journalists copy stories from authority websites like TechCrunch very frequently. This means that getting one journalist’s attention can often lead to hundreds of different media mentions.
This means that getting one journalist’s attention can often lead to hundreds of different media mentions.Tweet This
While it’s still possible to get coverage by sending out press releases, you’re far less likely to be noticed than by going straight to the source.
A press release is one of hundreds in an inbox. It needs to be the most interesting, remarkable story of the day to even get a journalist’s attention. Even if your press release stands out, there is no guarantee it will turn into a blog post or an article.
Go straight to the source and submit your content to any of the communities above and you’ll achieve two things at once:
- You’ll put your content in front of journalists, bloggers and other media influencers.
- You’ll show that people already enjoy your content, reducing the risk for the bloggers, journalists and editors that decide to write about it.
Submitting to websites like Reddit is simple. Once you’ve discovered the right place to promote your content, the challenge becomes creating content that your target audience responds to in the right way.
What do people like, upvote and share?
As a marketer, the biggest challenge you’ll face in catching the attention of media influencers is creating content they want to write about.
Journalists are interested in several types of content:
- Content that’s unique, different and interesting
- Content that’s extremely helpful and/or insightful
- Content that appeals to a wide audience and is highly shareable
- Content that supports a certain belief or theory (this is more common with political or opinion journalists)
In order to attract mass attention, your content should fit into at least one of the categories listed above.
When you’re promoting a business, creating this type of content can be tough. Luckily, there are a variety of options available:
- If you’re promoting a service or product-based business, write content that helps your target audience. Examples of this include Ahrefs’ guide to grammar and writing tips or Shopify’s guide to finding products to sell online.
- If you have a unique product or service, build the marketing into the product by being deliberately weird and remarkable. A great example of this is Ship Your Enemies Glitter, which was designed specifically to attract media attention.
- If you have a product that seems boring, find a way to make it interesting. An example of this in action is the Will It Blend? series, which turns a boring product (a kitchen blender) into a fun, unique and remarkable device.
Since very few journalists will share or write about content that includes any type of hard sell or direct marketing, it’s best to focus on remarkability instead of the direct commercial benefits that media coverage can have for your business.
Keep product mentions to a minimum and instead focus on the value to your brand. If you use SEO to attract customers from search, coverage on an authoritative blog or newspaper website will have link building value far beyond its short-term potential impact on revenue.
Other ways to attract the attention of journalists
Platforms like Hacker News and Reddit are ideal for attracting the attention of journalists in the technology industry, but they aren’t suitable for every type of business. Luckily, there are other ways to attract the attention of journalists and expose them to your content.
One simple, effective way is to email the journalists and bloggers that are the most likely to write about you. Search for your product or industry on Google News, then look for the journalists that write about your industry frequently.
If these journalists frequently write about products and businesses that are similar to yours, they might be responsive to your content. From here, you can contact them via Twitter or send them an email with a link to your content.
If you can’t find the specific contact information for the journalist you’re interested in, you can try to guess their email address or use the “tips” email address in their newspaper or magazine to contact their editor.
If they write for a publication like the Huffington Post, which has a team of editors, you can get in touch with the editor responsible for their section of the publication. The closer you can get to a journalist, the more likely they are to eventually read your email.
This method doesn’t have a perfect success rate, but it can get your content published, tweeted or shared. Great content paired with outreach with 10 or more journalists will usually earn your business at least some media attention.
Another effective method is to simply mention a journalist or blogger’s name in your blog post or article. Since many bloggers use Google Alerts to track mentions of their name, there’s a great chance they will see your content as soon as it’s published.
Scaling up your media coverage
One of the greatest benefits of media coverage is that it scales extremely well. Since journalists are desperate for interesting stories, one influential blogger or journalist writing about you might lead to many others following suit.
If your content is picked up by one journalist, put the email outreach strategy we’ve listed above into action. Instead of just talking about your content, mention that it’s been picked up by other bloggers and journalists.
No journalist wants to be left out of an interesting story. If you can show that your content is hot - that it’s attracting attention and being shared by readers - it becomes far easier to sell to new journalists as content that’s worth spreading.
How can you attract media attention?
Coverage in the mainstream media, or even in niche publications, is extremely valuable. A great story can result in your business receiving a surge of inbound traffic, backlinks from authoritative websites and a stronger brand as a result of the exposure.
Media coverage can often seem like something that’s only accessible to unique brands or large businesses with lots of money to spend on traditional PR. However, using the strategy above, it can be something your business earns for very little money - often nothing at all.
How can you attract media attention for your product, service or brand? With the right blend of unique, shareable content, effective outreach and an understanding of how the media finds its stories, you can bypass the traditional PR process and earn valuable press coverage for free.