How do you earn links from journalists writing for high Domain Authority online news publications?
First, I want to be clear this is not about writing a constant stream of press releases scheduled on an editorial calendar, then publishing these to Internet wire services. This article will teach you the art of real media relations.
First you must accept…
Journalists Do Not Care About Your Brand or Company
Reporters write stories for readers to read. Readers are the journalists’ first constituency. After that, their loyalty belongs to their professional selves, their editors and their publications.
Your company is a potential news subject. Your only influence lies in your ability to present compelling stories to reporters and manage responses to stories about your business.
Journalists are not heartless. Most reporters are actually pretty awesome. They understand their beats, know the businesses involved and enjoy rapport with many PR professionals and company leaders.
You just need to recognize and respect their goal: publish news, information and stories readers value. Help them and they will eagerly speak with you.
Rise Above the Noise
Reporters have limited bandwidth. They can write only so many articles. If you want your story to be picked-up it must stand out.
Every day journalists get inundated with press releases, emails and phone calls. They must sift through it all to find the stories that matter. Their job requires discipline, experience and trusted relationships.
If you received 100 press releases and another 100 email pitches or tips every day, could you keep up? To accomplish this journalists scan subject lines, looking for topics readers care about. They rely on email filters to flag important topics and companies. And yes, most reporters have lists of trusted sources, people who regularly bring them good stories.
In the business press most stories are about
- Well known brands
- New companies founded by recognized leaders
- Major product launches and benchmark updates
- Financial reports
- Leadership changes
- Legal proceedings
- Executive profiles
Obviously reporters cover other news, but you must have a compelling hook. The smaller or less known the brand, the more compelling your pitch must be. In this regard major brands like Amazon and Microsoft will always have an advantage because people know them and want to read about them.
Knowing this, you can probably guess what I am about to say concerning social media press releases.
Internet Wire Services
As a category, press releases submitted to Internet newswires tend to be a cesspool of dreck. Reporters don’t read them. Most Internet press releases contain no real news. They are self-promotional pieces.
Companies, big and small, post thousands press releases every day. This is terrific for services like PR Newswire and PR Web. You pay them to publish your releases on their automated systems. For added fees they let you add links and photos, then call them social media press releases. Internet wire services can be useful, but as a rule, not for pitching.
If you think reporters get their stories from online press releases you’re fooling yourself. Some might worm through the spam filters, but good journalists will already know about the newsworthy stories from direct contacts with the companies they report about.
Become a Trusted Source
How do you, as media relations professionals, get reporters to read your emails or take your calls? How do you become a trusted source?
It’s a long-term process and not everyone can do it.
- Be patient
- Work within the system
- Provide valuable news or stories
Mostly it is about building relationships, which is why it’s called media relations, not press spamming.
Get to Know Who Reports On Your Industry
Learn who the journalists are. Keep a database or spreadsheet of reporters’ names, beats and contact information. You may be able to purchase a list.
Read what they write. Are they local, regional, national or global? Note which businesses they tend to report on and what type of articles they publish. If they do a piece that strikes you for any reason, make a note in your database.
Reporters change jobs. Keep your database up to date.
As you build your contact list reach out and introduce yourself. Let them who you are, what you do and why they might want to add you to their contact list. Make an offer to help if the occasion should ever arise and ask if it’s okay for you to email them if you think you have a compelling story. Keep it professional and brief.
When you reach out, give journalists a link to your website and profile so they can learn more about you.
Never send a lengthy biography or explain all the ways you can help. If they want to learn more they will either look you up or ask.
Reporters are much more likely to use you as a source or consider your stories once they shake your hand. If you are going to an important conference or event send a note via email or Twitter asking journalists if they are going. If the answer is yes, let them know you would like to say hello and shake hands. If it happens, be professional and concise. Give your 30-second introduction, say how pleased you are to meet and that you hope to have some good stories to share in the future. This is not the time to pitch.
There is an art to pitching news stories. You must understand how to frame stories and sound compelling. You must gain an appreciation of when to send something to your entire database or contact a single reporter. You have to accept that off the record is a myth; everything you say or write is on the record at all times.
When you pitch a journalist who has never published a story you pitched, make sure it’s as good as any topic they’ve written about. Better to set your bar too high than try to duck under it.
Record every pitch in your database.
And when you succeed, record that too, then pour yourself a beverage.