I’ve heard it time and again from my clients, “Some of the best sales leads we’ve gotten are thanks to an online magazine article”. A link from a relevant, high-quality magazine, newspaper, or blog can be a direct line to target audiences and helps build your link profile. If it’s media coverage you’re after, these tools should be added to your PR toolkit.
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This is a personal favorite and – as far as I’m concerned – the Mother of all media coverage tools. HARO, or helpareporter.com connects journalists with sources—for FREE! You sign up and get a digest 3 times a day of journalists looking for stories. It takes some time to browse, but if you’ve got a story that’s a fit for someone, it can pay off big time.
A few expert tips:
- Don’t simply respond to the media leads. Note the names of the publications and journalists. You may not have a story for them now, but you may in the future. Or maybe their publication is a good fit. In short, use HARO as a research tool for future pitching. (Helpful hint: Respond through HARO if you have a story that fits what they’re looking for now. If you want to reach out about a different story, track down their individual email address and reach out that way.)
- Use HARO to find out what journalists are talking about. This gives you other story ideas.
- Sometimes it’s worth pitching parallel story ideas–just make sure you’re on topic. An example: Journalist is looking for family vacations to dude ranches. Your business is not a dude ranch, but you offer vacation packages to Montana that may include accommodation at dude ranches. This connection is worth a shot.
- Respond even if it doesn’t benefit you or your client at this time. If you have something helpful for the journalist due to your personal experience, go ahead and offer that info. There’s no better way to build a relationship with a journalist than by giving help with no strings attached!
This handy little tool follows and tracks journalists, bloggers, and social influencers. You can search by trending topic to find journalists who talk about what you want to talk about. This tool helps you laser target your pitches. It’s also great for coming up with good content or story ideas. One of Buzzsumo’s newest features allows you to browse trending content by country or U.S. State.
This can be a fantastic tool to get media coverage. It takes time to set up the alerts for topics relevant to your company, but it’s worth it. Scan alerts to find out about trending stories (to get your own story pitch ideas) and to find out which members of the press are talking about these trends. Depending on your topic and/or industry, you can also choose to limit alerts to a specific region or language or to a specific type of content (e.g. blogs, discussions, news, books video, etc.).
Expert tip: Don’t have time to scan all of these Google Alerts every hour of every day? Set your alerts to “once a week”.
Free Press Release Distribution Sites
“Free press release distribution sites? But I thought press releases were dead!” Nope, they’re not–I’ve been contacted by too many potential customers and journalists who’ve read my online PR distributions to believe this. Distribution sites don’t spam individual journalists’ inboxes, so it’s not the same as sending a mass PR distribution to a bunch of inappropriate media folks.
These sites have their own newsrooms where journalists find your story. Also, you can optimize your press release for search terms that can help searchers find your PR. In many cases, you can even link to your website. Some sites offer opportunities to ‘upgrade’ your news release for a fee. I recommend these sites:
My Own Awesome Research
I know you’re saying, “Please tell me she didn’t just say ‘My own research’”. Yep, I sure did. As PR or outreach folks, our job is to find and share a story with the right people—not implore a journalist to publish something not relevant to them. My suggestion is to use your own research like this:
- Identify 3 potential story ideas.
- Take each idea and ask, “Who would write a story like this?”
- Use one or more of the tools above to promote your story or find people who are talking about it. Or, or do your own awesome research to find the right journalists!
- Make a list of 10 journalists and begin reaching out.
These tools can help you obtain quality media coverage. Leverage PR to promote your brand, build audience trust, and drive sales.
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Frequently Asked Questions About PR Tools
Here are some tips to secure media attention for your company or brand:
- Distill your message until it is very simple to state and easy to grasp.
- Select the most relevant media outlets for your story or brand.
- Build a rapport with journalists.
- Invite media to any events that you’re hosting.
- Invest time and energy into building your personal brand as an expert in a specific topic or industry.
- Be available and approachable.
- Take advantage of free calendar or event listings whenever possible, in addition to promoting your event you’ll be promoting your brand.
- Attend and sponsor local events and support charitable causes when possible.
- Write and distribute press releases.
- Conduct, compile and share industry research.
- Share news on social media.
Free PR are media placements that you’re not paying for. In order to secure this type of coverage, you’ll need to have a compelling or interesting angle to your story. As you craft your pitch, consider what is new, different or interesting about your story and what outlets would be most interested in it. Then, take your message out to those outlets as part of a story pitch.