Your successful technology company requires an expert media strategy to communicate your technology in terms that attract investors, establish thought leadership, and intrigue potential leads.
A critical part of any thought leadership strategy involves connecting with reporters who cover your industry. With well-aligned media attention comes third-party credibility that attracts investors, establishes authority in the industry, drives talent acquisition, and intrigues potential customer leads.
Accomplishing this is no small feat, and it’s nowhere near as simple as Oprah handing out her business cards. Throwing around your business card simply doesn’t make you memorable anymore, it’s the equivalent of ‘connecting’ with 500 people on LinkedIn and calling it networking. The results are slim, if any.
That’s why we made this guide. You don’t have to be as cool as Oprah to get earned media coverage, but you do need a killer strategy.
The most valuable coverage establishes third-party credibility and expertise within your industry. Becoming the go-to expert for your respective industry necessitates an expansive content strategy blanketing the internet with your predictions and unique opinions. Crafting and refining your brand identity to engage potential customers is an additional benefit of PR.
In short, you want to be seen as a thought leader.
A vital aspect of this strategy includes the ability to exercise emotional intelligence when cultivating strong relationships with reporters and journalists. You want to avoid leading the reporter to believe you’re a “troll” rather than the thought leader she is looking for.
Here is a really long example of troll-like qualities in a pitch, courtesy of HubSpot:
i work with [XYZ] university school of
hospitality in miami,
a leading business school in the country specializing in the
hospitality and tourism industry
(with graduates living & working all over the world as business owners
from hotels, resorts, restaurants, catering operations, to special
events logistics companies
to department heads in major hospitality corporations- marriott, hilton, W- as
front and concierge desks, human resources, accounting, housekeeping,
beverage & revenue management departments, etc.)
and was hoping we could work together on a story
about what happens after graduation-
as you know, high schools & colleges are graduating a lot of students
come this april and may, and i would love to work with you on a story
answer one of these 2 questions:
a). does an internship lead to a job? is it worth working for free?
b). what’s next- how to look for a job.
as you know, i work with [XYZ] School of Hospitality in Miami,
a leading hospitality school in the country,
and i can introduce you to students who are interning,
and students who have gotten jobs as a result from their internship,
as well as employers who work with interns as well as with employers who
have hired their interns.
and one more option:
an interview with someone who got a job with another employer
as a result of a recommendation from the employer they interned for.
b). and if you wanted to work on the 2nd idea,
i can connect you with graduating seniors and academic advisor at
school about tips
she would have to land a job in this economy.
let me know your thoughts,
and we’ll get it done!
and i’ll speak w/u soon,
Seems like common sense to avoid this, right? Well, the relationship between public relations professionals, brands, and the media is often a bit strained. This study found that 24 percent of U.S. journalists described it as a “necessary evil” with only 4 percent considering it a true partnership.
The direct result of this stiff relationship includes Twitter blasts outing PR fails with zero mercy. There are improvements to be made to avoid troll-like qualities.
Your company needs a positive public image and journalists need interesting stories. Here’s what it takes to build valuable relationships with reporters:
Whether you hire a PR professional or you DIY, you have a massive responsibility to journalists to provide honest information and resources. In the era of fake news, you have the opportunity to develop a mutually beneficial partnership. This begins with learning how to become the ultimate resource that journalists can count on for reliable information and unique stories. And when I say unique stories I don’t mean a press release about your latest software update… good stories are big picture and compelling for the writer’s whole audience.
Contacting the media is an art form that should be continuously refined. The first action item is to read your current pitch with a critical eye and upgrade it immediately. The first or second iteration should never be the final version.
This pitch is your chance to capture the media’s attention by offering value. Opting for a succinct and informative pitch will go further than an essay detailing the intricacies of your technology. Save that for the interview you secure.
Tip: Communicating via email is preferred over a phone call.
Additionally, the “spray and pray” method of sending the same email pitch to 500 journalists is outdated and may even get you featured on a cutthroat Twitter feed that isn’t so kind to black out your name and email.
Before pressing “send,” go through this checklist to ensure that you’re on the right track:
Once you’ve written your pitch and gone through the checklist, you must anticipate what the journalist needs to craft a well-written, insightful, and interesting story. This means having your resources immediately available upon request. This includes anything from relevant blog posts to the spokesperson’s headshot and bio to raw data points from your research findings. Also, if they reply to your pitch, don’t haggle with them about where the call will take place, or the nature of their coverage, be ready to be genuinely helpful on what they need, in the way the need.
Get your ducks in a row. Here’s an example:
Tip: Muck Rack found that 49% of journalists will pay attention to your press release if you provide an infographic.
For years, having a journalist’s contact information was the holy grail, until outdated online databases and the internet ruined the game. With easy access to their contact information, there’s a reason 34% of journalists describe their relationship with PRs as “antagonistic.” Their inbox is flooded with requests identical to the one you’re about to make, plus a massive amount of follow-up emails.
When crafting your succinct and informative pitch, ditch all verbiage that’s synonymous with a cold sales pitch or your marketing copy. Focusing 90 percent of your pitch on the interesting story at hand will take you far. Communicating this information like you would with a friend will take you even further. Journalists are primarily concerned with publishing articles that add something to the industry; the spokesperson’s name and expertise is secondary.
Tip: More than 41 percent of journalists consider the potential “shareability” of a story when deciding what to write about.
Here is how to write a pitch that wins over the contacts in your media list:
Here’s an example incorporating these tips:
#3 Utilize Twitter to build rapport with journalists
Twitter is an excellent platform to consider using when building a long-term relationship with reporters. The caveat is determining whether or not your target journalist wants you to pitch them in 280 characters or less.
Let’s assess the current landscape of Twitter and journalism:
To tweet or to not tweet?
Here’s a quick guide we adhere to when determining if reaching out to journalists via Twitter should be part of our strategy.
Now that you’ve narrowed your list, you have 280 characters to get it right.
As I’ve mentioned, the “spray and pray” method guarantees you’ll get ghosted at best or Twitter shamed at worst. But you should also be wary of disingenuous personalization. Opening your email pitch with “I read your article on [topic] and loved it! I thought you would be interested in [topic]…” will get you an eye roll from reporters. If you find yourself in the relationship building phase and enjoy someone’s article, don’t hesitate to jot down an email thanking them for covering it without asking for anything or pitching them anything. This is being nice, but doing it right before you make a pitch comes across as fake. Here is an example from PR Daily:
BuzzStream found that this type of “fake personalization” results in fewer responses than a generic template email. Campaign Monitor found that 33 percent of marketers said personalization will be the most important capability to marketing in the future. This transfers over to your PR strategy and communication with reporters and journalists.
Chances are you have been working or will work in this industry for quite some time. It’s beneficial to establish genuine connections, keep track of reporters’ publishing activity, and appreciate their voices in the field.
Fostering an authentic connection begins with having an honest interest in their take on the industry. Take time every week to catch up on what they’ve published.
Outline who you want to connect with — these are usually the top writers in any given industry. Keep track of their article history to get a solid read on their voice and views. You can easily set up Google alerts by heading to www.google.com/alerts and typing in their full name. This will provide you with an email of everything they publish in real time.
Lastly, go into writing an email with the intent to connect and offer value without expecting a placement in return. This change of mindset will alter how you choose to word your pitch.
The last thing you want to do after you’ve worked hard to become a reliable source to a journalist is bombard them with media coverage requests. We understand that companies need consistent coverage, but we must empathize with journalists and realize they need interesting ideas and opinions that their audience deems shareworthy. In fact, 63 percent of journalists check how often their articles are shared.
Once you’ve worked hard to establish a connection with a sought-after journalist, nourishing the relationship without being overbearing is critical to a successful PR strategy. It’s like having a new best friend that you want to do tell everything to, only this new buddy has an inbox full of people wanting to be their friend. There’s a temptation to reach out at any moment, but we advise treading lightly. Be extremely picky and make sure your pitch aligns with their recent coverage.
Don’t be Laina Morris, the girl in the “overly attached girlfriend” meme. This is Laina Morris:
One final thought, consider meeting with a reporter in person. This tends to naturally preserve your connection with a reporter and lessen the pressure of pitching a story. Here are two ways to maintain a relationship beyond the realm of email:
Sr. Account Strategist
Hi there, I’m Tiffany Kenyon. I’m an account strategist here at Front Lines Media helping companies in the tech space expand their online presence and authority in the industry.