In the digital age we live in, online exposure is the key to success.
Whether you’re trying to grow your business or establish your personal brand, you have to put yourself out there and find new ways to grow your audience.
And that’s where the media comes into play.
By “media,” we’re not just talking about major news outlets and broadcast TV — we’re talking about all of the various online communication methods that exist to put you in the public view.
If you want to get ahead, you have to grow and foster long-lasting relationships with people that can make you visible in the right way.
Building media relationships and content partnerships takes time, but there are some simple things you can do to jumpstart the process.
Ready to learn some new tricks?
Why Are Media Relationships Important?
If you want media coverage, it’s time to start thinking like a public relations expert.
Because PR pros know how to cultivate partnerships that benefit themselves and their partners.
Think of it as a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” situation.
If you can provide media outlets with strong content, they’ll come back to you for more. The more your content helps them reach their goals, the more likely they are to give you the exposure that helps you reach your own goals.
The more your content helps them reach their goals, the more likely they are to give you the exposure that helps you reach your own goals. Click to Tweet this!
How to Identify Potential Media Partners
Not sure who in the media you should reach out to?
There are a few ways to identify the media contacts that are most in tune with your target audience.
Scope Out Social Media
Start by looking at hashtags related to your brand or business. Click on posts using those hashtags and start building a personal list of blogs that post content related to your industry or niche.
Conduct Some Competitive Research
Another way is to look up your competitors to see where they’ve published content. If a website often publishes articles from your competitors, they may be willing to publish your content as well.
Be Strategic in Your Outreach
Once you make some media contacts, be thoughtful about your engagement. The trick is to find the right balance of when, where, and how often to communicate. Consistent interaction is best, but constant interaction can be overkill.
How to Make Contact With Media Professionals
Media outlets aren’t likely to seek you out. In most cases, you’ll need to do some serious outreach in order to start building a media list and establishing strong media relations.
There are a few ways to get the attention of potential media partners:
Connect Through Social Media
One way to make media contacts is to reach out on social media platforms such as Twitter or LinkedIn.
Not sure where to start?
Consider reaching out to your second connections on LinkedIn so your cold outreach doesn’t seem as cold.
Once you identify a few media contacts, start sharing their content on social networks. Reply if you have something of value to offer in response. Read their blogs, make insightful comments, and share their content. They’ll be more likely to share yours in return.
Send Press Releases
Sending press releases or news releases about new products or services is an effective way to get widespread exposure in a short amount of time.
Before social media, PR people used to send press releases to their own specific contacts. They now use databases like PRNewswire.com to send releases to thousands of media pros at a time, and you can too.
If journalists or bloggers are searching for topics covered in your press release, they might even contact you before you have to contact them.
Help a Reporter Out
HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is an online service where journalists and media professionals can find expert quotes and information on topics they plan to write about. By responding to requests on HARO, you can help save journalists time and, in return, get a backlink in a post or a quote in one of their future articles.
But it’s not just reporters and freelance journalists that use HARO. Bloggers and influencers of all types use it as a way to source reliable information for their content. If you can provide that information, you can form valuable relationships.
Seek Out Guest Blogging Opportunities
For bloggers and influencers focused on content marketing, finding guest blogging opportunities is a great way to connect with publishers and garner the exposure you’re looking for.
Guest blogging can get your name out there and earn you backlinks that can steer traffic back to your own website or social media pages. If you write for that website’s target audience and create content with SEO best practices in mind, one opportunity to guest blog can turn into a series of guest blogs on various sites.
There are several different ways to find guest blogging opportunities. You can reach out to contacts that you already have. You can Google search phrases like “blog for us” or “write for us.” You can search blog directories to find the top blogs in your industry or niche, then pitch story ideas to them directly.
Finding guest blogging opportunities takes time, so once you find one, be sure to deliver them your best work. The more interest and traffic your guest post gets, the more likely they are to come back to you for another post.
Light Personalization vs. Heavy Personalization
Before you start contacting members of the media, you’ll want to devise a strategy and an approach that will elicit a response. That means deciding if you want to take a lightly personalized approach or a heavily personalized approach.
Light Personalization (Not Recommended)
Light personalization is an outreach technique that isn’t geared toward one specific person. Instead, it involves sending a template with standard messaging to dozens if not hundreds of media outlets.
A light personalization approach still requires you to gather the contact information for each media professional you want to reach. You’ll also want to customize aspects of each email, such as the publisher’s name, the publisher’s website, and any details about the type of content they publish.
This type of outreach is a “numbers game,” usually resulting in a small percentage of return engagement. If you reach out to the media with lightly personalized messages, be prepared to follow up, as there’s a good chance they will not respond.
Heavy Personalization (Recommended)
Good communicators know that the best way to connect with someone is to do so on a personal level.
At Inter, we rely on heavy personalization for media outreach. We do significant research on publishers and media outlets, then pitch ideas that can add value to their specific site.
The heavy personalization approach requires more research prior to outreach, but demonstrating that you’ve taken the time to do that research often results in a positive response. If your heavily personalized outreach doesn’t get results, don’t be afraid to follow up. Sometimes people intend to respond but forget.
When personalizing your media outreach, you have to show them what’s in it for them.
Generic subject lines, gratuitous flattery, and blatantly asking for links or retweets won’t get you far. Instead, give them a reason to want to read your email with a smart subject line and a personalized message that shows you understand who they are.
Do Us All a Favor: Be Authentic
Whichever approach you take, do so in an authentic, honest way.
The media is smart, and they know when someone sounds like they’re over-promising on what they can actually deliver. They also know how to spot templates, which shows that you didn’t put much time or consideration into connecting with them. When a standardized template comes their way, they’re likely to assume that you’re reaching out to anyone and everyone.
Unique Ways to Build and Foster Media Relationships
There is no one-size-fits-all way to reach out to and build relationships with the media. But there are some specific things you can do to make them want to connect with you in return.
Create a Content Partnership
Don’t reach out to the media as a way to help yourself — reach out as a way to create a content partnership that helps both of you. Offer resources, links, and quotes that content partners can use. Share source material. Connect them with other contacts from your network if you think a partnership could benefit them both.
Offer resources, links, and quotes that content partners can use. Share source material. Connect them with other contacts from your network if you think a partnership could benefit them both. Click to Tweet this!
People are much more likely to want to work with you and promote your content if you can offer them something in return.
Do Your Homework
Take the time to research every journalist, influencer, and media outlet you want to connect with. Have a thorough understanding of the topics they write about (and their views on those topics).
If you want to stand out from the competition, reference an obscure piece they’ve published rather than commenting on their most popular piece of content.
Demonstrate That You Know Who They Are and How They Work
The manner in which you reach out to the media is important. So is when and how you reach out to them.
Once you’ve established a contact, ask how they want to continue your correspondence. Some people prefer late-night phone calls, while others prefer emails without any IRL connection.
Show Some Appreciation
You can make your contact even more personal by demonstrating that you get who the person is.
For example, if you know that your potential media contact is a fan of a certain writer and that certain writer is about to release a new book, pre-order them a copy.
How NOT to Approach Media Professionals
When contacting media professionals, knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do. Keep these tips in mind when conducting your outreach:
Don’t Send Emails That Look Like Spam
Cookie-cutter emails that read like spam are not the way to go. The best way to connect with a media professional is to send them an email or reach them on social media in a way that makes you stand out from everyone else.
Think Before You Make a Phone Call
Unless you build a close personal relationship, there’s usually no need for phone calls, especially unsolicited ones. Many media professionals have inboxes full of outreach emails and don’t have the time to check them, let alone listen to voicemails.
Calling or leaving a voicemail can be a useful approach once you’ve already established a relationship, but calling them before you have a relationship isn’t likely to garner results. Take an interactive online approach in the beginning and save the phone calls for a later date.
Don’t Ask for Too Much Help
It’s good to be direct, but don’t come right out and ask a publisher or media outlet to post or share your content. Instead, think like a PR professional and give them a reason to want to do it on their own.
When it comes to the media, you have to establish mutually beneficial relationships. That means you’ll need to demonstrate that you have some value to offer in return for the exposure they can offer you.
Here are the key takeaways to keep in mind:
Building strong media relationships starts with knowing who to reach out to, finding unique ways to make those connections, and showing your value at all times. Do your homework, conduct your outreach in a personalized way, and treat the relationship as a partnership.
If you can master that, you can establish long-term media relationships that will help you grow your brand and business over time.