There’s no doubt that getting media coverage is a great way to build brand awareness, increase credibility, and even boost sales.
But, to actually get your business on the news, you need to grab media attention first.
Given that the majority of top-tier publishers find between 50 and 500 pitches per week in their inboxes, it can be a pretty difficult task. Especially for small and medium businesses that don’t have a lot of PR knowledge and tools up their sleeve.
Getting media attention is not impossible, though. If you take the initiative and give a little thought to your PR outreach plan, you can easily get the media coverage for your business.
It should also get easier after you finish reading this guide with more than 25 not-that-obvious tips to get media coverage →
Essentially, there are two ways to use digital PR to your advantage when trying to get press coverage: either through “proactive” or “reactive” efforts.
A proactive approach to getting media coverage
Being proactive usually means creating attractive content, sharing it with the public (through published press releases, media pitches, and social networks, for example), and actively “chasing” journalists to cover your story. On that note: here’s how to do PR outreach the right way.
The key to getting media attention this way is being interesting, creating some buzz around your business, and becoming “findable”. After all, journalists look for information like most of us do: through Google Search and social media. In fact, many reporters admit to finding stories on social networks or other media outlets, as discovered by broadcast specialist agency ON-Broadcast.
Pieces of content that usually attract attention are original research, expert commentaries, visually-appealing infographics, and newsworthy stories (in other words: timely, impactful, relevant, human-interest, or featuring an influencer).
The best part is that you can easily try creating engaging content pieces and share them with the media yourself. Back in the days, press releases and media pitches were usually reserved for PR specialists, but it’s no longer the case.
With media relations tools like Prowly, you can easily create press releases and publish them in a dedicated newsroom, find relevant media contacts, and send email pitches to start getting media attention.
A reactive approach to getting media coverage
Reactive PR, on the other hand, is all about responding to journalists’ needs. The easiest way to do so is through media coverage services like Help a Reporter Out (HARO).
Such platforms aggregate queries from journalists, providing them with a database of sources for their upcoming stories. Then, sources like yourself can answer these queries and if they prove to be valuable – get media coverage.
It’s important to respond selectively and be sure to meet all the requirements mentioned in the query. What also helps is providing some background information about your business. You can include a link to your online press kit with all the important details and visuals that the reporter might need to get your business on the news.
Media coverage services to try out:
Help a Reporter Out (HARO)
You can sign up for different media coverage services to see how they work and whether they’re a good match for your business. I highly recommend it, especially since you can use some of them for free.
Another option is to use set up alerts for relevant mentions within your business niche (with Semrush, for example), and keep an eye on trending stories and journalists looking for expert comments all around the web.
No matter which method you choose to get media coverage for your business, it’s important to plan your PR activities in advance:
- Figure out what you want to tell the world about your business and where/how you’re going to publish your news
- Identify the most relevant media outlets and journalists
- Start building media relationships and create your own media list
- Try at least a few PR tools and media coverage services for both proactive & reactive PR efforts
- Create content that attracts media attention (original research, newsworthy stories, expert commentaries, infographics)
- Pitch your stories to the media
- Follow the expert tips listed below
25+ expert tips to get press coverage
If you still feel like journalists are just not that into you, you might want to get a bit more creative and follow some of the expert tips on how to get media coverage I’ve collected (through HARO, actually!).
Let’s dive right in.
1. Build rapport with journalists long before you need them.
Most people reach out to journalists only trying to get an article written about their business, which puts them in the same league as all the other companies doing the same thing.
If you’ve strengthened a relationship with one or a few journalists beforehand, they’ll be more likely to cover your story because you’ve clearly valued them long before even needing them. If you do this, you might even find them offering to get your business on the news before you even ask. It’s a simple step to take, but it can be very effective when done right.
Tip from: Carla Diaz, Co-founder @ Broadband Search
2. Pitch journalists rather than publications.
When trying to get media attention, most businesses go for large publications straight away. It might work sometimes, but your pitch can easily end up lost somewhere in the bulk without any response, regardless of how amazing it was. A more effective way to get a positive response (or any response at all) is to start with less popular media outlets first, find relevant journalists working for these outlets, and tailor your pitch to them.
Tip from: Atta Ur Rehman, Content Marketer @ Physicians Thrive
3. Target freelance reporters.
Target specific freelance reporters who cover topics or an industry that is beneficial for your business. By focusing on targeting one person (a freelancer, to be exact), you can potentially receive a variety of media placements instead of one specific outlet. And, because freelancers are highly motivated to get their stories picked up, it should be easier for you to get your business on the news.
Tip from: Sara Neumann, Director of Public Relations @ Nuvolum
4. Pitch journalists who already covered a similar topic.
To increase your chances of getting media coverage, you can simply type a relevant topic into Google News and make a list of the publications that have covered this topic in the last 4-6 months. Next, click on each article, identify the author, and reach out to them personally. Since that journalist has already covered the topic, you have a greater chance of connecting with them on a related topic or follow-up article.
Tip from: Markelle Harden, Digital Strategist @ Knowmad
5. Personalize your media pitch.
While there are a lot of recommendations on the web when it comes to formatting your media pitches, there’s a high chance that your competitors have gone through them and will be using the same style. Therefore, it might be a better idea to personalize both the content and the format to make it stand out more (while keeping the essential formatting guidelines in mind). Alongside the main body of the email, you should also personalize the subject line as well for a better open rate.
Tip from: Atta Ur Rehman, Content Marketer @ Physicians Thrive
6. Digitize your press releases.
One major tip for getting media coverage is to digitize your press releases. Too many companies still have a print mindset when it comes to press releases. They’re so proud of their announcement that they think the story is just too engaging to pass up.
Even if your text is on point, you’ll go much farther by including digital assets within your press release itself. Videos, gifs, and other downloadables make the journalist’s life easier. You’ll still want a well-written and edited text to go with it, but those extras drive a better engagement rate than text alone.
– Dwight Zahringer, President @ Pure Cabo LLC
7. Leverage Twitter.
Many reporters are on social media to keep up with industry trends, especially through Twitter. Take advantage of that! Make sure you are posting anything newsworthy on your Twitter handles. You never know who may be scrolling through your feed and decide to get an article written about your business.
Plus, it pays off to follow reporters and publications that you want to be featured in, so you have a better feel for their style. If you understand what they’re looking for, it will be much easier to get press coverage in the future (and they may even follow you back).
Tip from: Alex Keyan CEO & Founder @ goPure Brands
8. Stay on top of trends.
You can use Google Trends to monitor interest and popularity, and leverage these insights to create newsworthy content.
For example, we saw a resurgence in searches for SEO Prices in 2020 as more companies invested in digital marketing. We kept an eye on the topic and noticed a spike in searches in the third quarter of 2020. The next month, we published a blog post on the topic, and over the next several months, ten outlets picked up our article and linked to it.
– Markelle Harden, Digital Strategist @ Knowmad
9. Provide background information and visuals to the reporter.
When pitching the media, make it as easy as possible for the reporter by providing visuals (infographics, images, video, b-roll) and any other relevant press materials to help back up your pitch. This will make it easier for the reporter to write an article about your business.
Keep in mind that reporters act fast, work on tight deadlines, and are incredibly busy – if you can help them cover the story, the more inclined they will want to work with you again in the future.
Tip from: Sara Neumann, Director of Public Relations @ Nuvolum
10. Offer product samples.
Journalists aren’t allowed to receive gifts from potential sources, but they are allowed to take free product samples for reviews. So, instead of reaching out to reporters pitching yourself and your story, offer them a free sample of your product in exchange for an honest review.
Everybody likes free stuff, and this will incentivize reporters and bloggers to write an article about your business for their media sites. This is especially true for smaller blogs and micro-influencers.
Tip from: Rachel Geicke, Founder & CEO @ Snow Monkey
11. Produce the content you want the media to pick up.
One of the most effective ways to get media coverage for a business or organization is to become a journalist and produce the content you want news organizations to pick up.
Once your story is ready, post it on our site (or an online newsroom), and “blast” it out as much as possible — on your social media channels, with notifications on your website, and through emails. If the story really is newsworthy, you won’t even have to go to the media to get the coverage. As soon as journalists see it, especially if it’s trending on social media – they come to you asking for more.
12. Offer original research and new data.
Original research is always in demand, especially if you take an intriguing angle that hasn’t been discussed yet. You can either use your own data, work with a research firm, or do some desk research to compile stats that will be useful for journalists.
As newsroom staffs are shrinking, contributed content helps to fill in gaps in coverage. Anything you pitch should be completely original and written with the tone of the publication you’re targeting in mind.
Tip from: James Gerber, Vice President @ Crackle Communications
13. Offer comments to relevant journalists just as a newsworthy piece of data becomes available.
This technique has 3 steps:
- Building a list of journalists who write about your industry
- Finding a source of reliable information about your industry
- Pitching an insightful comment on this information to journalists as soon as the relevant data becomes available. Make sure your comments should add weight and insight to the story!
The keys to this are timing your comment correctly and making your pitch as “journalist-friendly” as possible. You can do that by putting [comment] in your subject line (this will increase your open rates as journalists who want a comment immediately know what they are getting), and including relevant visuals and credentials in your pitch. Journalists are pressed for time and will not want to chase you for these.
Tip from: Oli Graham, Marketing Manager @ Rightlywritten
14. Release a curated report.
In one of his newsletters, Brian Dean from Backlinko shared his unique method when it comes to getting media attention:
My first breakthrough came after I reverse engineered sites that got press on a regular basis. I quickly realized that journalists LOVE writing about data. And businesses that published data-driven content tended to get press coverage on a regular basis. Instead of finding, collecting, and analyzing data myself…why not just report on data that’s already out there? So I gave it a try. And the first “Curated Report” that we published did GREAT. It got links and mentions from sites like Forbes, HubSpot, and the Shopify blog.
– Brian Dean, Founder @ Backlinko
Brian’s advice is to start with finding a suitable topic (a trending one, ideally). Next, you need to find data, which turns out much easier than you might think. Here are a few resources that you can use:
- Google Scholar
- Tools & software (SimilarWeb, Google Keyword Planner).
The key here is to present your data in bite-sized chunks. The easier you make it for journalists to find little nuggets that they can write about, the more media coverage you’ll get.
15. Piggyback something else that is getting publicity.
To get media attention when you’re not actually doing something newsworthy (or making a fool of yourself on social media, which is generally frowned upon as the old caveat that “all publicity is good publicity” is wholly untrue), the best way is generally to piggyback something else that is getting publicity.
For instance, sponsoring a community event or team, joining in a fairly high-profile initiative like zero waste or employee-sponsored community volunteering, or otherwise supporting something that will generate or provide publicity for companies that give something in return.
Tip from: Polly Kay, Senior Marketing Manager @ English Blinds
16. “Newsjack” existing stories.
Another method to get more media coverage is to “newsjack” existing stories. It can be a bit risky sometimes but it can really help you generate more buzz and get your business on the news.
How to do it right? Whenever there is a news story going around that is relevant to your industry, start by figuring out whether you can offer a new and different perspective on the topic. Then, reach out to relevant journalists. By doing so, you can get a chance to be featured in follow-up pieces while getting media coverage for your business.
– Dimitris Tsapis, Head of Growth @ PlanM8
17. Work backward.
One tip that you can lean on regularly is working backward. What this means is determining your ideal headline, and then searching this in Google or on Twitter to dive into the existing conversations around the topic.
By working backward, you start with an idea in mind that you can use as a jumping-off point for your pitch and media research, instead of working from square one and feeling overwhelmed.
Tip from: Mary Brynn Milburn, PR specialist @ Idea Grove
18. Use your competitors.
A tip for getting more media coverage for your business is to look up the PR coverage that businesses similar to yours have received (these are usually listed on their press pages or even shared on social media), and then email those outlets about your own business.
Because those outlets have already covered a similar story, there’s a much higher chance that they would be interested in featuring yours. This tip also applies to individuals — look at similar figures in your industry and where they’ve been featured.
Tip from: Jarry Lee, a NYC-based social media entrepreneur
19. Exhaust your business story.
When it comes to PR and outreach, it’s important to exhaust your business story. What this means is you leverage your business’s history as a way to build your authority and credibility with regard to the relevancy of your outreach through your years of expertise.
My company has been in business for over 3 decades, and this has built our network base and allows us to build our media coverage over time through word of mouth.
– Lewis Mayhew, CEO & Founder @ South Scaffolding
Also, understand the power of your individual experience. As a business owner, it’s easy to draw within the lines of media outreach within your industry field. However, building integrity through the human aspect of you as an individual also has its perks. If you have particular expertise about other interests of yours, don’t be afraid to showcase your knowledge in those industries, too.
20. Just ask.
Sometimes, it just doesn’t hurt to ask.
I’ve ended up on the news many times by just calling up the news channels and asking them if they’d be interested in featuring my business. It’s sometimes that simple. I would say the most crucial thing in getting media coverage is a subtle yet persistent approach.
– Lori Cheek, Founder & CEO @ Cheekd
21. Maximize on media attention.
At some point or another when running a business, you’re probably going to get the opportunity to get free media coverage. You should then make the most of this coverage to try and get noticed by other media outlets.
If the story about your business is good enough, more media outlets are going to want to feature you (this is essentially one of the ways hype is created). If you get it right with the few free offers you have, you might just end up with more journalists approaching you to speak about your story. Of course, this only works if what you have to say is truly valuable, so don’t expect just anything to “blow up”.
Tip from: Peter Horne, Content Lead @ Geoff McDonald and Associates
22. Consistently pitch journalists’ queries.
Media coverage services like HARO are a great way to get free media coverage. However, since there is so much competition, the ratio of pitches to ‘wins’ will be relatively low. The key is to answer at least 10 to 20 queries per week consistently.
Tip from: Grant Aldrich, Founder & CEO @ OnlineDegree.com
23. Don’t reply with a generic answer.
Take every query found on media coverage services seriously, and don’t ever reply with a generic answer. Some queries can be short and lack context, which makes it hard to recognize exactly what the reporters are looking for, but if you put in the time to figure out what exactly they are seeking and how quotes and references from you can help them cover the story, you’ll increase your chances of getting press.
Tip from: Lee W. Johnson, Founder @ Old Bull Lee
24. Involve more team members.
One of the top tips for getting your business on the news via media coverage services is to pitch the media using multiple people from different backgrounds.
Journalists can be really strict with the credentials of their respondents. If your company is only doing outreaches through one executive, you are wasting opportunities. There are only a limited number of queries that one person can answer, and they are limited to their experience and expertise.
Having multiple executives answer in HARO increases your chances of getting media coverage. It is crucial to note that these chosen company representatives should vary significantly in experience and credentials to cover a wide range of topics.
Tip from: Stephen Light, CMO & Co-owner @ Nolah Mattress
25. Keep an eye out for #journorequest.
One method that you can use to get free media coverage is to scour Twitter for journalists who are putting out tweets where they are looking for a source. Some may use the “journorequest” hashtag, and these can be useful, however not all do.
I’d go further and search Twitter for queries like “looking for” + keyword which may pull up a lot of irrelevant results, but you can still find some real gems. And if you’re a keen coder, you could even automate the process of searching these queries, using Zapier, and give yourself notifications when it detects a potential tweet.
– Amit Raj, CEO @ Amit Digital Marketing
26. Follow-up the next day.
When trying to get journalists to cover your story, you have to realize that they are receiving tones of similar e-mails coming, and very often they are prioritizing the most important ones. That’s why it’s worth following-up with the selected journalists the next day, either via e-mail or phone. It gives you greater chances that your story will be published at the end. Those who do not follow up shouldn’t feel surprised if their pitch gets buried somewhere in the journalists’ inboxes.
Tip from: Karolina Króliczek, Founder @ PR Insight
27. Combine proactive & reactive tactics to increase your chances of getting media coverage.
When it comes to getting your business media coverage, a mix of both proactive and reactive tactics work best. It’s important not to focus too heavily on one method over the other and be sure to create a presence or relationship on all fronts. Building your media relationships can work to your advantage and it’s honestly a lot of creating a name for yourself.
Tip from: Sanem Ahearn, Head of Marketing @ Colorescience
Ready to get media coverage for your business?