Earned media coverage—in other words, press journalists give based on merit or the newsworthiness of your story—is one of the most cost-effective ways to publicize your business. Yes, doing media outreach requires time and effort; however, it comes with big payoffs. Press coverage can raise awareness of your brand, draw in new customers (and reinforce relationships with existing customers), entice investors and stakeholders, and attract employees. You may be overlooking some of the biggest payoffs when it comes to preparing for press coverage: those within your business.
Approaching the media requires you to identify your business’s story. Remember: The mere existence of your business isn’t enough to gain coverage. You need a story. Perhaps your story focuses on you, the founder, and how you overcame hurdles to start and grow your business. Perhaps it’s about your customers who utilized your product or service with great results. Perhaps it’s about how your business is tapping into a trend. Going through the process of identifying and articulating your message for the press means you’ve clarified this story for yourself. Now, you’ll be able to articulate that story for every audience, including your customers, stakeholders, and employees. And when the going gets tough—as it inevitably does—you’ll be able to remember what your business was built on. You’ll be able to identify your business’s mission. And, ultimately, you’ll be able to remind yourself of why you’re in this to begin with.
Identifying your business’s story implicitly identifies your company values. For example, if your business founder story is about how you are a single mom who worked nights and weekend on your side hustle until you turned it into a full-time gig, then your values might include family, hard work, and flexibility. These values become the guiding principles of your business—from how you develop and test new products and services, to how you treat your employees and freelancers, to how you interact with the community. And they’re all wrapped up in the tidy package of your business’s story. Taking the time to identify your story, which is the basis of media coverage, also helps you reinforce your business's foundation.
By identifying your story, you’ll also be able to refine your messaging across platforms. Prior to pitching, I advise conducting website and social media audits. Look at your website and social media presence through a journalist’s eyes to ensure the information is complete, accurate, and up to date. Make sure your story is told clearly and frequently. Express your values throughout every aspect of your online presence. Doing this will not only serve journalists. It will also serve your potential and current customers, and stakeholders. Just like journalists, they’re navigating your website looking for information and to learn more about your story. They’re perusing your social media and forming impressions about your values based on your tone, how you interact, and how you build community via social media. Along the way, they’re making decisions about whether to do business with you. Therefore, having a refined message is not only important to connect with journalists; it’s important for your bottom line.
If you have questions about how preparing for press coverage can benefit your business, send them to hello [at] howtopitchmedia.com.