When it comes to pitching to the media, it’s key to align your brand with the specific publication. Any brand will know just how important it is to ensure brand alignment in marketing, and PR should be no different. It’s how you build trust, values, and consistency.
But aligning your brand with a media outlet brand is slightly different – it means crafting your image in a way that shows you understand how the media cover stories, and not being afraid to tweak it when necessary. Showing a publication that you understand their coverage, style, and voice, is one way to hugely increase your chances of landing coverage. With the right branding, you can stay consistent all while aligning your brand in a way that works best for particular outlets and audiences.
The importance of your brand voice
We are living in a time where the majority of brands have their own public-facing persona. This means that brands can display personality, humor, likes, and dislikes, and even political views — best demonstrated by brand social accounts. Voice is also how brands become known by their customers, whether it is friendly, academic, mysterious, or maybe a bit edgy.
Brands will establish a mostly consistent voice, but it may vary slightly depending on the audience or context. For example, some brands may take part in online discussions and meme culture, but would use different language in a customer service email. Brand voice is important because people should essentially feel like they are speaking to the same person every time.
What makes a media outlet brand?
Media outlets are brands just like anything else — they also have to find their brand voice, grow customers, and do marketing. But these brands are best represented through their coverage. Some of the biggest media brands in the world have built a name for themselves by refining their publication to a specific niche — from grungy rock ‘n’ roll, high fashion, underground stories, futuristic technology, or boutique travel.
As a result, media outlets are always looking for great brands or stories that align with their specialty. Every decision they make is done with their readership in mind because they too have an audience that is expecting brand consistency. If a publication starts to veer away from its usual style of content, it can alienate loyal readers.
Understanding media brands
The key difference between a business brand and a media brand is that the latter is looking for great stories first and foremost. To build a media brand that is respected and renowned, publications have to focus on producing consistently great content. It’s no surprise that historic publications sometimes lose loyal readers when a new editor takes over and makes big changes.
But this focus on great storytelling is why brands need to craft their pitches in a way that aligns with the media and looks like a story, and not a marketing opportunity. One of the best ways to grab a journalist’s attention is to explain why your brand story is a good fit for that specific publication and audience. It will show them that you both know their publication and have personalized your pitch.
How to align your pitches with media brands
When you reach out to a publication with a product, event, or story that you want them to cover, the first thing a journalist will be asking themselves, is if this is a good fit for their outlet. The way to answer this question for them is by targeting your pitches, which means telling them why you think your brand would be appealing to their readers.
It also means leaning into the aspect of the story that works best for that individual publication — the edgy, the lighthearted, the funny. The way you pitch your brand to one publication may be different from how you pitch another. Aligning your brand will not only ensure that your pitch is more likely to be successful, but that a published piece is likely to be presented in a way that is consistent with your wider brand messaging.
Know the audience
Publications must know their audience inside out, so a brand must show that their target audience is aligned with the outlet’s readership. This covers age, gender, interests, location, and various other factors. Your pitch will hold a lot more weight if it can show why it is well suited to that publication’s readership. Not only will it prove that you’ve done your research, but saves the journalist time looking for this information themselves.
Show you are newsworthy
In order to align your brand in the media, you will first need to show that you are newsworthy. Emailing a journalist and asking them to cover you for the sole reason to spotlight you, is not going to be enough to prove to them why you are worth their time.
You should ask yourself if your company is doing something no one else is. Is it donating to a related cause? Is it revolutionizing its market? Is there an unknown founder’s story that people need to know about? By developing your own news sense, you will be able to focus on the aspect of your brand that is most interesting and aligned with specific publications.
How to create news
The media is no stranger to a PR event. Sometimes it will be to promote the launch of something new like a bar opening. Other times it’s cleverly engineered to create something newsworthy. Fast food restaurants often do this, like when Mcdonald’s created their tiniest restaurant in the world (for bees!), or when Taco Bell launched their own hotel. We’re not suggesting you actively seek to create a PR stunt during a dry news period, but PR events are an opportunity to creatively align your brand with certain media, think outside the box, and get people talking.
Pursuing paid media
Brands don’t always have media-worthy news to share, meaning organic placements will be hard to land during the quiet periods. Because of this, some brands will choose to pursue paid media, like advertorials, which is a form of advertising presented like editorial content. This is a powerful way to promote your brand message in a publication that is aligned with your messaging. For example, beauty brands can place articles about their product in prime glossy magazine spots. Or a new app can go straight to its target audience by publishing sponsored media in a tech publication. That way you can fit your brand in amongst other content that is similar to yours and will appeal to a certain readership.
Embrace what makes you different
To align your brand with the media sometimes means paying attention to the small things that make you different. Journalists deal with hundreds of brands that claim to be different without actually having anything to show for it. Don’t be afraid to be transparent with your brand image when approaching a publication — whether this is your scrappy startup story, your numerous other failed ventures, or your commitment to a cause that your industry has previously overlooked — it might just be what makes them take notice.
Publications don’t want their stories to look like glorified marketing campaigns. Presenting your brand as super sanitized and corporate will discourage journalists from taking interest. It’s important to remember that pitching on behalf of your brand is an extension of your brand voice and image. So being personable and friendly can go a long way. That way journalists will know there is a real person behind the brand.
Aligning your brand with media outlets isn’t about being disingenuous or flippant with your image. It’s about being able to craft your story in a way that works best for the place you are pitching. It’s about being able to spot a story that will appeal to a certain audience and embracing that.
Find out how Otter PR can help you align your brand with media outlet brands by booking a free consultation.