How to get media coverage for free

There are three ways you can get media coverage.

One way is that you can pay for advertisements and say whatever you wish, within legal guidelines – of course. Secondly, you can create a compelling story that the media want to report on and come to you. The third way is through unwanted, negative press that can bring down stocks and executives alike.

We’ll cover the second way here as it is often the one that is hard for marketing clients to understand. Clients pay an agency to create and share stories, so they naturally want to share the exact story that they want and in the exact way that they want it. Unfortunately, storytelling and media pitching doesn’t work that way.

The mistake companies make is that they want to talk about themselves, their products and their features, and what is important to them.

What the media want is to tell stories that will be impactful with readers.

The good news for companies wanting coverage is that the explosion of TV, radio, newspapers, blogs, podcasts, and so on is enabling content to be generated at such a rapid pace that producers, publishers, and reporters just can’t keep up. And, even when they can, who can pass up a free juicy story? This is where the art of the pitch and storytelling comes in.

New, timeliness and immediacy

Want to talk about your company? Unless you are a well-known global brand, what you have to talk about better be brand-spanking new. And then, even the world’s favorite brands can flop a media pitch that is not well crafted.

This is where timeliness and immediacy come in. If something has just occurred, then you can be sure it is new. It doesn’t have to be breaking news, but you will have a better outcome of gaining coverage if you do not wait too long.

For example, if you are launching a new product be sure to share the story with media under embargo ahead of your public announcement plans so they are ready to hit publish at the same time as you are.

Impact and human interest

Are you a small, unknown company in a big market? Then, you may want to leave your new CEO announcement to your customer updates, local industry newsletter or find a news outlet that covers your industry specifically.

However, if there is something unique that a company or individual can share, then there is a story. Perhaps your team discovered a scientific breakthrough, or is able to demonstrate how your products impact the lives of those in the community and can offer interviews with local faces. Remember: Media and consumers are more interested in those with status, like prominent business leaders, politicians, entertainers, and athletes.

Relevancy and proximity
Relevancy can change from outlet to outlet, so you need to know the type of stories that a particular journalist or producer covers. A morning drive political talk show is not going to cover the same information as a general interest entertainment show. Ask yourself, what do the consumers of this type of media want to see, hear, or listen to? Also keep in mind that proximity is an easy factor to help you determine relevance. For example, a fire in New York is not going to make headlines in Florida (unless it is an iconic monument or attraction!).

Correct spelling, grammar
Enough said.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Is this new or how can you take a new approach?
  • How many people does this impact?
  • Is this unusual?
  • Is it timely?
  • Have I heard this story before?
  • What value am I providing people that read, listen, or watch the material?

Media pitching is all about creating a story or offering a story that someone else wants to talk about. It’s important to note that you’ll likely need several of these elements we’ve just looked at, all at the same time. For example, you can’t have “new” but not have “relevancy” and expect to gain coverage!