One of the best ways to generate buzz for your brand is to secure media coverage in the top outlets for your specific industry. Getting top-tier media coverage may seem nearly impossible, like screaming into the void hoping someone will hear you, but there are ways to get the top-tier outlets to pay attention to you and your brand.
Scott Bartnick, co-founder and CEO of Otter PR, has built a business that has perfected the art of garnering top-tier media attention for clients. Clients often seek out the assistance of PR professionals for the express purpose of securing these top-tier placements.
Here, Bartnick gives us 10 tips for landing these spots:
1. Drop the Generic Pitches
“Top outlets know the power that they possess, and they want you to know it as well,” Bartnick says. “When pitching to top outlets, pitches need to be more specific, addressed to named editors and decision-makers, and show that the one doing the pitching has done their homework.”
Merely sending a blanket, generic pitch to these outlets will not garner you any attention. These outlets receive hundreds — if not thousands — of pitches a week, so yours needs to stand out in order to be recognized.
2. Consider Your Audience
Different top media outlets have distinctive audiences. Forbes and Entrepreneur, for instance, are geared toward business-minded readers and entrepreneurs, whereas Cosmopolitan is more focused on stories regarding women’s lifestyles.
“When pitching, it helps to know the target audience for the outlet and whether that audience is one you want to target with your branding,” says Bartnick. “While it can be great to land in an outlet as big as HR.com, if their readership isn’t one that is likely to be interested in your services or product, it can be a wasted opportunity.”
3. Refine Your Message
Before pitching the top media outlets, make sure your branding and message are refined and ready for the “big time.” Have a third party, such as your publicist, look over your online reputation and web presence to make sure there are no glaring issues that would cause a top-tier media outlet to pause.
4. Be Persistent
“You’re likely to get a good amount of ‘nos’ before you get a single ‘yes’,” Bartnick explains. “But this is to be expected, given the volume of requests that top-tier outlets receive. Keep at it, and if landing in your dream outlet is remaining on your bucket list, nagging at you until it happens, then continue to refine and hone your pitch.”
5. Engage With Decision Makers
With social media, it’s easier than ever to open up the lines of communication with editors and top journalists. Forging relationships with these people is a way to get your name noticed when it comes time to pitch media requests. Follow them on Instagram, comment on their Twitter accounts, and be a prolific poster yourself. Share what they post that is industry related and may be of interest to your audience.
“If outlets have a subject-matter expert that aligns with your brand or mission, get to know them specifically,” Bartnick advises. “With increased engagement, your chances of getting an accepted pitch from these outlets will increase drastically.”
6. Ensure Credibility
It should go without saying, but always ensure that what you are pitching is true, verifiable, and hasn’t been published elsewhere. Most media outlets, top-tier included, want to ensure that they are the first to get this scoop, and will likely pass on information that is impossible to verify as true or material that has been published elsewhere already.
7. Make Yourself an Expert
“Top-tier media sites want to cover and speak with key industry experts and thought leaders,” says Bartnick. “If you put yourself out there as a subject matter expert, and that expertise is easily verified, you will be more likely to be tapped by top-tier media outlets for coverage.”
Expert status can be built through online engagement, publishing writing on your own site or other sites that are easily accessible through an online search, and by taking advantage of speaking and guest post opportunities.
8. Be an Early Riser
This especially holds true if the information you are pitching or wanting to help cover is time sensitive, or if you are trying to take advantage of breaking news. “If you wait until the afternoon of the day everything is happening during a breaking news cycle, it’s virtually guaranteed that your message is going to get tossed in the journalist’s email trash,” notes Bartnick. “On the other hand, if you are the first person — or even just one of the first few — to pop up in the journalist’s inbox that morning, you’re helping to make their job easier, so it’s far more likely you’re going to get their attention.”
9. Keep it Short and Sweet
Busy top-tier outlets have no time to read a novel-sized pitch. They want you to get to the point — how is giving you coverage going to benefit them and their readers? To this end, always triple-check your pitch to make sure it is succinct, free of errors, and gets right to the meat of the discussion.
10. Above All Else, Be Patient
Everyone wants to have top-tier media outlets pay attention to them, but that also means these outlets are bombarded with requests. “Patience is a virtue that will get you far with these outlets,” Bartnick says. “You want to maintain frequent contact with the outlets — especially if you’ve forged a relationship with their editors or other key decision-makers. At the same time, however, you don’t want to be relentlessly pitching non-stop without giving them time to respond to your query.”
It is the dream of most entrepreneurs to land coverage with an outlet that has an instantly recognizable name. It can go a long way in establishing one’s brand identity, improving sales, and massively boosting the scaling efforts of their business. But with strong attention to detail, some savvy engagement, and a little bit of patience, almost any brand, entrepreneur, or leader can score the top-tier media coverage they always dreamed of.