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8 proven tips to get media exposure -- at no cost

8 proven tips to get media exposure -- at no cost

September 05, 2012

I don't know of a single business owner who wouldn't want more media exposure. So why don't more business owners get that kind of exposure?

That's an easy one. It's hard work.

Fortunately, that's not the end of the story ' because I'd like to share an innovative method to help you gain the media exposure you've always wanted. It's called 'newsjacking' and it really works if you keep it simple. I can't wait to tell you about it...

The old way of doing things just doesn't work

Before I explain 'newsjacking,' let's talk about how most clients try to get media exposure. It goes something like this: The client comes up with a new product or service that they think will make for a great story. So they send press releases to the local media and send emails to news editors at newspapers, TV, radio and at the city magazine news desks. They even try to get some national media exposure.

Then they sit back with baited breath, waiting for the media frenzy to begin.

And all they hear are crickets. No one calls. No one emails. No one even writes back to say, 'Thanks, but no thanks.' It's as if the idea slipped into some kind of black hole.

Here's the cold, hard truth. Journalists don't care about your story!

You can talk to them until you're blue in the face about how you think they should care ' why it will benefit their readers ' you can disguise your pitch any way you like it, but they will see it as an attempt to wheedle them into giving you some free publicity. And that's not what self-respecting journalists do.

You can't change the news, but you can 'ride' the news

The secret to "newsjacking" is to ride the momentum of a hot story and insert yourself into the coverage.

Journalists cover news. They cover what's hot, what people are talking about ' and most of the time it's a controversy. Conflicts make for great news. So the more controversy, the better. You can't change that, but you can ride it. And that's the easiest way to get media exposure.

The secret is to ride that momentum and insert yourself into the news coverage. It's a concept made famous by David Meerman Scott, author of the book, 'Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage.'

What is 'newsjacking'?

'Newsjacking' is all about quickly jumping into a story the media is already covering so you can broadcast your message. Simply put, it's all about capitalizing on a story that's gaining tons of attention. Look, news is breaking every minute and that gives you an opportunity to ride the popularity wave of a story to benefit your business in some way.

Is your life insurance salesman quoted in the Wall Street Journal or seen on NBC?

Brad Elman, a life insurance agent, is one of the best at "newsjacking." If a story breaks about consumer finance or insurance, you'll likely find him in the news.

I was recently talking with Brad Elman who does a terrific job at 'newsjacking.' He's the only life insurance salesman I've heard of that's been featured in Kiplinger and MorningstarAdvisor, quoted in the Wall Street Journal and CNET, and seen or heard on NBC, CBS, and NPR, just to name a few. How does he do it? He finds a topic that's hot in the media as it relates to insurance or consumer finances and contacts journalists covering those stories to add his message.

When the IRS was handing out rebate checks to stimulate consumer spending he 'newsjacked' the story and got himself on NBC affiliates encouraging consumers to pay down their debt instead of going out to the mall.

Does "newsjacking" work? Absolutely!

Take Jen Borislow, who owns Borislow Insurance. She and her business partner, Mark Gaunya, wrote the book, Bend the Healthcare Trend, to help employers reduce their health care costs ' one of the biggest issues facing businesses of all sizes. So when the media is talking about the controversial topic of health care journalists from Insurance News Net, Employee Benefit Advisor, and Employee Benefit News immediately turn to her. Are those publications household names? No. But in her niche they are ' and she's a rock star!

Here's how to do it'

Don't wait. Time is the enemy of 'newsjacking.' The key is to act fast. As soon as you hear about a story breaking that's relevant to you or your business, it's time to 'jack' it. Contact your local news outlets or industry publications that are also likely to cover the story because they're looking for a local angle to follow-up stories. This is a great opportunity for you to get your message out and gain exposure.

Remember, you're only part of a larger story, so make sure your message is relevant to the topic or it won't be included.

WOOP up media coverage for yourself and your business using the concept of "newsjacking." As you can see in the diagram, you have a small window of opportunity to ride the wave of a popular story immediately after a story breaks ... but it's all the best time to insert yourself into the story! Read on to find out how...

Source: David Meerman Scott, author of the book, Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage.

The most effective tool you can use'

As old-fashioned as it may sound, the most powerful tool to get your message across to journalists is a phone.

Don't be afraid to pick up the phone. Send press releases, send emails, send tweets to journalists, but the most effective follow-up tool is a good, old-fashioned phone call to the editor or reporter covering the story. It's still the most valuable tool for journalists and they have to listen to voicemail.

Be patient. Working with journalists is about developing a relationship. I was talking with one of our Brand Launcher Coaches who was an investigative reporter for 10 years and he tells me that journalists only quote people that they trust as credible and reliable sources. It's like any other relationship, but it's especially true for journalists because their readers are relying on them for accurate information from legitimate sources. If the journalist doesn't trust the source or doesn't feel comfortable quoting someone, they'll find someone else. Why? Because their reputation is at stake, too.

So if you don't get coverage right away, don't worry. Continue to follow up by providing information that the reporter may not already know. Remember, you probably have expertise or insights that the reporter does not. Demonstrate your credibility with reliable information and you'll build trust. Next time, when a story breaks in your niche, you'll be among the first the journalist calls.

Here are 8 more tips to help you 'newsjack' a breaking story:

1. Identify the top media outlets that you would like your business to appear in and develop a list of the journalists and editors you should contact when a story breaks. Your contact list should include phone, email, twitter handles, etc. Ask them how they prefer to be contacted. This is really important because if you are not ready when the opportunity comes you won't be able to respond. So start building your list now.

2. Develop a list of news topics that are currently trending in the news and ask yourself: What can I add to those stories that hasn't already been covered? What can I add to the discussion? This is like a 'warm up' for the real deal: this exercise will help you figure out how you could have incorporated your message into the current headlines, so you're ready when the next story breaks.

3. This tip is pure gold so pay attention'.Add your contact information to directories journalists often turn to for sources such as ProfNet.com, SourceWire.com or HelpaReporterOut.com. For a full list of directories go to journaliststoolbox.org.

4. Begin to build your credibility as a trusted expert in your field. Demonstrate why someone should stop and listen to what you have to say.

5. Follow the news! Stay up to date on the stories that the top media outlets you've identified are producing. Understand who is being quoted and what topics are getting the most exposure. Make sure you are clear on the audience they're trying to appeal to. The better you understand the market, the more likely you'll get quoted.

6. Send notes and emails to journalists or editors you follow. Let them know what they did well in a recent article or suggest other topics to consider for future stories on the topic so you're top-of-mind when they do a follow-up story.

7. As soon as a story breaks, send a one-page press release that explains your position and why it matters to the journalist's audience.

8. Follow-up with a phone call - but don't call to be interviewed. Call instead to provide information that you think will help the journalist develop the story.

I can't stress this last point enough ' it's the most important of all of them. Why? Because most people (even PR professionals) don't understand that if you come across as a self-promoting media hound you'll never get coverage, because you're no longer credible. In journalism, information is gold. If you can provide an angle or insights to a story the journalist doesn't have, you'll get the coverage you've always desired.

But act quickly and you'll be 'newsjacking' with the best of them and getting media exposure that other business owners only dream about.

Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go,


Jon Goldman, President