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5 Steps for Acing Your Media Outreach Approaching the media the right way is only one part of the big picture.

By Penny C. Sansevieri

This story originally appeared on PR Newswire's Small Business PR Toolkit

Maskot | Getty Images

I often coach small business owners on the importance of approaching media the right way. But approaching the media the right way is only one part of the big picture. You'll also need to be prepared so that you can speak convincingly on the topic and on your industry as a whole.

Here's how:

1. Be prepared to feed the beast!

The media is always looking for stories to feed the massively hungry 24/7 news cycle. You've likely noticed that as a story breaks, experts seem to crawl out of the woodwork. While you may not always agree with their position, they are all media-ready -- they know their material, know their market and are very solid experts.

2. Be what the media needs

Are there trends you've noticed? Do you have the latest research at the tip of your fingers (or better yet, tongue)? By knowing your own industry or market, you'll be better prepared for that spotlight when you capture the right person's attention.

3. Be the expert

You're not going to become famous at the drop of a hat. You'll need to work for whatever fame you seek. And, even if you're spending top dollar on a PR team, you need to be the expert and it needs to show. How? Blog constantly, share ideas on your social media feed daily, and in general, be focused on your industry. Just like my second point, be prepared with trends, stats and even other experts.

Now that we've talked about being prepared, we also need to make sure you know your media and your media markets. Taking the right approach and being prepared only gets you so far if you're pitching to the wrong person. So with this in mind, here is a basic overview of media markets and the different types of media.

4. Know your media market

National media is not all created equal, so it's important to know where your city ranks. If, for example, you want to pitch yourself to regional media in New York, it can be tricky since most New York-based media is national. But, you can pitch yourself to the five boroughs and outlying markets that are hungry for news. The closer you are to that number one spot, the harder it is to get your message to regional media. Los Angeles, Calif. is the number two media market and while LA has a lot of great, regional papers, it's still a tough slog to capture their attention.

There are, however, lots of great regional newspapers just a stone's throw from the heart of Los Angeles. Consider Orange County, Long Beach, Artesia, Santa Monica and other nearby cities that often have their own local newspapers.

5. Know the different types of media

There are three tiers to media -- national, regional and trade.

  1. National media is what we all know best -- big morning shows like CBS This Morning, Today on NBC and Good Morning America; major daytime talk shows, evening newscasts and national magazines; it's also major newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and The Washington Post.

  2. Regional media is made up of outlets exclusive to a region, town or city. It's often a great place to start when first building your media exposure and platform. So it's perfect for local public events, and ideal when you can offer a local spin to a story making national headlines.

  3. Trade media is quite possibly the largest -- and it's anything that is for a specific audience, whether trade, hobby, sport or profession. It would include golfing magazines, writing publications, even podcasts dedicated to a specific focus and sometimes newsletters for specific markets.

So now that we've explored not just how to prepare yourself for media coverage but also how to understand the various types of media outlets, you have the tools to start capturing their attention!

Penny C. Sansevieri

djunct Instructor NYU & CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.

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