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- Understand your target publication's area of focus. It is unlikely you'll get them to stray from that focus. So be willing to adapt your strategy based on their specialization. Make sure to express why different reader demographics are going to be interested in what you have to say.
- Get to know the key players and address them by name. When it comes to media coverage, a personalized pitch is going to be far more effective than a shotgun approach. Nobody likes an impersonal marketing message. If at all possible, you should know the journalist's name and what they generally write about.
- One story may require multiple angles. Make sure to develop several different approaches for your story. You never know which angle might resonate better with different journalists. Plus this is a great exercise that can help you think outside the box.
Get your products reviewedPublished product reviews increase your brand's credibility and can help get the word out about your products. There are few forms of marketing as powerful as word-of-mouth, and increased credibility for your brand can only serve to help you get more media attention in the long run. Try these steps when reaching out to journalists for potential product reviews:
- Research the right outlets. Finding journalists and sites can be a bit of a balancing act. You want sites that have a large following, but that will make it more difficult to get a product review. Finding a site that frequently does product reviews increases the likelihood that they will review your product, but it may take longer to have your review published.
- Create a target list. Build a spreadsheet with publications, contact names and how to reach them. Publications often have this information on the Contact Us page on their website. Separate the target list into small, medium and large-sized publications. This will make it easier when you begin sending messages. We’ll have more on this technique later on in the Trading Up The Chain section.
- Contact the websites on your list. Start by contacting sites with small to medium-size audiences. This makes it easier to get initial reviews. Once you have a few reviews up on these sites, contact sites with larger audiences.
- Follow up. Take time to follow up with each of the sites that agreed to review your product and stay in touch with them throughout the process. If there are any sites that don’t get back to you, follow up with them again in a week.
Help A Reporter Out with interviews, product reviews and moreReporters are always looking for interesting stories to cover. HARO, short for Help A Reporter Out, gives journalists a platform for getting the sources they need to complete articles. For example, a journalist may want to write a story on exciting new products for the New Year. Wouldn't it be great if you could offer to be a source for that article, discussing your exciting new product and how it could benefit the journalist’s readers?The first step is to signup to be a source. The basic package is free with additional features available in the paid subscriptions. Once you’re signed up, you’ll receive emails with reporters looking for sources. Then you can respond to the ones that offer an opportunity for a product mention. Just make sure you only respond when your product really is a good fit and your interview could truly help out the writer. Avoid spam and you'll be on your way to getting great press coverage.HARO is not the only tool that you can use to reach the media. Here are several other sites that PR companies are regularly monitoring:
- ProfNet from PR Newswire: ProfNet helps connect experts, journalists and PR professionals.
- MyLocalReporter: MyLocalReporter allows business owners to target local media for coverage.
- MediaSpotMe: MediaSpotMe is like LinkedIn and HARO combined.
- SourceBottle: SourceBottle helps journalists and bloggers find sources in a searchable online directory.
- The Media Bag: The Media Bag is for businesses that need product review placements.
- Muck Rack: With Muck Rack, businesses can find journalists, and bloggers and journalists can connect with marketers and PR pros.
- Media Kitty: With Media Kitty, journalists can communicate and stay connected with professionals in the travel and hospitality industry.
- Pitching Notes: Pitching Notes is designed to give PR pros the opportunity to review and talk about their personal experience with journalists.
Create unique content to trade up the chain"Trading up the chain" is a tactic that involves creating a story on a small blog that becomes the source of a story for larger blogs and media outlets. Ryan Holiday, author of Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, notes that while the strategy can be abused, it can still also be used for good.Here's how it works. Once your e-commerce products are online, and you've highlighted the most interesting aspects of them, not necessarily the benefits or the features, it's time to find a blog that bigger media sources pay attention to. Then, write an engaging piece for the niche blog and submit it. If the concept is interesting enough, the bigger media outlet will feature the story on their blog or other news channels.With this strategy, it's important to think about how you're going to tell a story. Merely submitting a basic idea or even a blog post to a small blog with low standards won't get you very far. You have to create a newsworthy piece or your time and effort will have been in vain.For example, if you’re trying to sell your new bike helmet, it’s not going to be newsworthy if you simply focus on the fact that it’s new or that it has one or two new features. What might be newsworthy is the fact that your bike helmet has a radical new design based on new scientific studies, or that it uses a new material that was previously only used by NASA or in earthquake-proof buildings.So start with your newsworthy story, then go to your spreadsheet of contacts. Begin by contacting the small publications and work your way up the chain to larger publications. Each time you move up the list, mention the previous story or review. Your message might include something like, "Publication One and Publication Two had this to say about the product. We would love to hear your thoughts on it as well." Social proof works on journalists too.
Use a paid service for press release distributionPress releases are written or recorded promotional pieces purposely aimed at members of the news media. In the past, releases were traditionally mailed, faxed or emailed to editors at newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, and television networks. These methods are still used for the delivery of press releases, but digital distribution has become more prevalent and powerful in the information-hungry online world.Here are some of the most notable and commonly used release distribution sites:Vocus, which also owns HARO. Another interesting option to consider is EcommWire, as their niche is e-commerce businesses and their service is free.Use the same outreach process that we outlined earlier. Craft a newsworthy story about your product. Consider the journalist’s target audience and why they would want to read about the product.
Use PR outreach tools to develop relationshipsA semi-automated PR outreach tool can help you find and develop relationships with journalists and publications. These tools let you see who is talking about you, your competitors and your industry. From there you can reach out to establish relationships.Once you've created a relationship, you can make pitches for them to cover your products. Examine the popular posts on your contact’s website. Learn what readers are interested in and craft a compelling pitch that involves your product.PR outreach tools come in different shapes and sizes. Here are two examples:
- BuzzStream allows marketers to manage their online campaigns, build links, and drive traffic to their website using inbound marketing channels. You can also build relationships with key influencers that will create conversations about your products around the web.
- Raven Tools lets you track your online campaigns from a single dashboard. You can view your rankings, assess your competition, find possible issues with your website, do keyword research, manage social media accounts, publish content, monitor PPC campaigns and much more.
Action stepsFinally, it's time to take some action! Here's a quick checklist to run through as soon as your product is ready for primetime.
1. Create your contact list. Find the journalists who cover stories in your industry. Build relationships with them, and determine their areas of focus.
2. Ask for product reviews. Build credibility for your products by soliciting customer, blogger and influencer reviews.
3. Create accounts. Sign up for the PR tools of your choice and create accounts for each. From there, reach out to journalists and online publications that cover your industry. Learn the topics they cover and craft compelling pitches about your products.
4. Develop engaging stories and content. For trading up the chain and PR campaigns, you will require interesting bits of content about your product, be it press releases, blog posts, videos or all of the above. Make sure to have all of these elements ready to go before going after media attention.
5. Submit your content. Send your blog post out to the smaller blog you picked for trading up the chain. Send out your press releases using the various distribution channels as well.
6. Repeat. Continue to build relationships with journalists, bloggers and influencers, and send your story to reporters that are trying to meet fast approaching deadlines.
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