Ever wonder how you can get your business and/or startup noticed by members of the media or maybe even some influential bloggers? At the Social Media Marketing conference in San Francisco, several influential people representing major media in the Silicon Valley took the stage to answer the audience’s questions on how to get your startup noticed. From advice from Ben Parr, co-editor of Mashable to hearing from Kym McNicholas of Forbes and Joe Vasquez of CBS 5, people were able to hear what it would really take to get coverage across most major media.
A very important point that the panel made was that before you get started, you should do you research and make a list of which media outlets you want to target. Is that specific outlet writing anything that might be of value to your business? Once you’ve done that, then you need to dig deep into the outlet to find that one reporter, blogger or journalist who would be the most interested in what you have to say – don’t just send it blindly to anyone in hopes that they would give it a warm reception. Chances are that if you send a technology-focused news pitch to someone who only writes about lifestyle issues, you’re going to be totally ignored…no matter how many times you send it or how convincing you sound.
That leads me to the second point: build relationships with members of the media. Don’t think that pitching your wares to bloggers and journalists cold will get you anywhere. In fact, Ben Parr said that the best way to get press to pay attention is probably to get a referral. If you can get an introduction from someone familiar to Parr, then chances are that he might more attention to your pitch. Kym McNicholas, on the other hand, doesn’t mind if you contact her directly – in fact, she even said that you could add her on a friend on Facebook to communicate with her, but with one condition: you include a personalized message in your invitation. This makes perfect sense because why else would you want to follow someone without showing that other person why they should add you on Facebook? Once you have that foot in the door, the panel suggested that you don’t just lurk or be a Facebook “stalker” and just sit back and watch what’s happening. You should actually be active with your relationship with journalists and bloggers you want to reach out to and continue to have your presence out there. Are you commenting on their posts? Leaving interesting and relevant comments on their Facebook wall? Tagging them in relevant photos from various events? These are just some of the things you can do so that the journalists and bloggers will continue to be aware of you. If you’re also working with a brand and need to get extra exposure, the continued engagement will be useful in helping you get noticed – but there’s no guarantee that you’ll get exposure…just that there’s a greater chance of it.
During the 45 minute discussion, other tips that were thrown out by the panel included making sure you’re aware of the timing. For some journalists, they’re usually up against a deadline. CBS 5′s Joe Vasquez is one such case. He made it a point to say that depending on when you pitch your story to him, it might be able to make it to air at a certain newscast, but only if he has a chance to clear it past his editorial board meeting. But it’s also not usually about the deadline, but what else is happening in the industry at that time. Parr says that you shouldn’t send pitches when a huge story just broke. In fact, if you were a technology-focused company, would you be willing to risk no exposure during a Apple keynote featuring Steve Jobs where he talks about the next iteration of the iPhone? Of course not…because the top story for all media and blogs in that space would be focused on Apple…and not you. It pays to be aware of the different events taking place around your industry.
Perhaps a key thing to note is that you should definitely tailor your news to the appropriate outlet. Don’t think that a blanket press release or email will be appealing to Fast Company and then Forbes and even Mashable. Give them an angle on your company so that they are interested. I would guess that it relates to how I blog…one my personal blog, I write for business people, but here on Network Solutions, I write for small businesses and over on Bub.blicio.us, I’m more about just the social scene. Your pitch will not cover all three so make sure that I’m able to address at least one of them. McNicholas makes it a point, however, that you should not try and pitch one market and then turn it against another market. She works at Forbes and she just hates seeing businesses pitch their New York office and then go after the San Francisco one – it’s a global company and those actions could be unfavorable to you in the long-run. And when you’re making your pitch, make sure you’re educating them on your product. For Vasquez, in the television industry, they’re a bit behind and they need help “getting it”. In your pitch, give the reader and idea of what your product can do without resorting to too many buzz words…just make it clear what your product does.
Photo Credit: Kenneth YeungGoogle+