How to Get Better Press Than Your Competitors
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Making sure your company's PR efforts support the business's goals is a constant grind. Not only are there various responsibilities to juggle, but many marketing VPs regularly monitor their company's total press hits, business press coverage and share of voice against their competitors to see how they're doing. While companies can issue a steady drumbeat of press releases and pitch trend stories, unless they're a new startup with tier-one venture capital backers or the bellwether company, gaining share of voice will be a challenge.
However, certain media tactics can help you garner more press coverage and increase your share of voice compared to your competitors. First, be clear about what your message is, who your audience is and what will compel them to respond. Understand and clearly articulate your buyers' pain points and how your offering solves them.
Once you have your message articulated, follow these tips:
Related: Why Every Startup Needs a Press Kit
Engage with the right outlets and reporters
To drive immediate sales, start by knowing who within your target customer base will be the easiest to influence and also has purchasing power. How does this group get information: through social media, blogs, trade outlets or search? What pain points will buyers have if they don’t change how they do business? Once you’ve narrowed this down through an online search, review media kits or background information about the different publications or blogs. These provide information on reader demographics and distribution, which will confirm if you’ve identified the right outlets. Another good strategy is to pinpoint which publications mention your competitors -- chances are that those are the ones you should be targeting in your media outreach.
Most media outlets encourage reader participation and look for meaningful feedback. While reporting the news is still core, reader engagement is becoming increasingly important. Some trade outlets have moved to a community model, encouraging reader comments and engagement on their sites. Because of this shift, you don't always need a full-fledged launch to make an immediate impact. Start small and focused by responding to reporter's stories with thoughtful commentary. Don’t promote yourself. Instead provide insights you have gained from your experience. This strategy not only builds credibility with reporters but also positions you as a resource for future stories and helps you gain attention when you want them to cover product news.
Connect to bigger trends
Connecting to bigger trends, commonly referred to as "trendjacking," requires that you regularly monitor the news for stories that are relevant to you or about which you have an interesting point of view. While free sites and tools such as Google search can alert you to some opportunities, it’s equally important to monitor the news daily for opportunities to insert your perspective. Companies successful at generating more coverage and gaining share of voice dedicate multiple resources to trend tracking and pitching.
Such monitoring helps you find places where you can insert your opinion (not a product pitch) and better position yourself for inclusion in broader trend stories. Be clear ahead of time about which trends are relevant for you and your buyers and develop pitch points so you can respond quickly. Don’t be afraid to take a stand or contrarian point of view. The more interesting your perspective is, the better the chance you'll be quoted. But use common sense. Don't ever take advantage of tragedies to promote your product.
Related: How to Be Your Own PR Machine
Data Is critical
Reporters often look for unique data that may support or counter a premise about an industry event. Whenever possible, provide supporting market research and infographics as part of campaigns and press releases. You may even find it worthwhile to conduct your own survey on a topic relevant to your market, publish the results in a paper and announce them in a press release. Proof points can be a great way to gain attention, as the media love numbers and percentages that can validate ongoing trends and market opportunities.
Respect the reporter relationship
Many companies make the mistake of treating the media as a one-way conduit for telling their stories; they do not respond when a reporter asks for a perspective or quote on another story. The more you can help a reporter in his or her quest to write a story, the better the long-term relationship. Some reporters, particularly in the business press, will offer to keep information on “background;” what you say will not be attributed to you. You won’t get quoted, but if you help the reporter out, he or she may be more likely to respond to an email request or phone call in the future.
Ultimately, no one tactic or strategy will help you trump your competition when it comes to press coverage. It takes a mix of them to keep your name front of mind, even in the absence of news. Remember, the more helpful and reliable your are as a source, the greater your chances are of developing strong relationships with reporters and of receiving greater coverage in the media that matter to you most.