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How To Use Positive Press To Go Viral Before you set out to get more PR, make sure there is consistency in your branding.

By AJ Agrawal

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Whenever you get unexpected,positive free publicity, immediately used it as a springboard to get more free coverage. It's usually difficult for businesses to get the attention of journalists, but if you're already getting positive press or if you have a story relevant to what the media is already talking about, your business becomes automatically newsworthy.

A case in point would be when Nigerian President MuhammaduBuhari survived a 2014 terrorist attack, which is suspected to be the work of Boko Haram. While at least eighty people were killed, Buhari walked away unscathed because he was riding in an armored car crafted by INKAS, a Canadian-based supplier of luxury armored vehicles.

INKAS specializes in crafting highly protected vehicles that are popular with affluent audiences because they do not appear to be armored, such as its Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG, which retains both its opulence as well as its ability to withstand the impact of bullets and grenades.

Certainly, a terrorist attack is not something to be desired. Nevertheless, the 2014 scenario provided an excellent opportunity to showcase the quality of INKAS's brand. With the right savvy, you too can leverage publicity to make news about your brand go viral.

Answer Journalist Queries

Subscribe to sites like Help a reporter (HARO) to become a source for journalists and get in the news free via their HARO Publicity Alerts. Choose specific lists you want to join that are most relevant to you to limit the number of requests you need to review.

Serious freelance writers use MyBlogU to crowd-source research for round-up posts and content for editorial stories. These writers ghost for CEOs and publishing authors on major publications as well as for smaller business sites. Get on their radar to get additional links and coverage by joining here.

PitchingYour Ideas

Ideally, it's best to pitch an idea to a journalist whom you already know professionally. If that is not an option; however, the principle behind cold-pitching a story is the same as capitalizing on a feeding frenzy: sell the journalist a story you know he or she will be interested in.

When asked what they were looking for when being pitched to, these journalists emphasized the importance of people getting to know about them and the topics on which they typically write.

Caitlin Kelly of The New York Times said, "The PR people who are truly helpful and will get their client's mentioned are those who ask me what I need and help me get it, fast." She notes, however, that this rarely happens.

The journalists also mentioned the following qualities of helpful pitches:

  • grammatically correct English
  • eye-catching email subject lines
  • a heads-up on breaking news
  • conciseness and simplicity

The journalists encouraged marketers to avoid the following pitfalls:

  • buzzwords
  • hyperbole
  • email blasting
  • unsolicited phone calls
  • wordiness and rambling
  • being boring

Have Quotes From Key People Available

Quotes are what makes for good journalism and coverage. Every company should have a selection of quotes written in advance to be used when a story breaks. Get quotes from your CEO and other members of your C-suite and from any significant staff.

Make sure you have their contact information handy in case you need a different angle in a hurry. Many quotes can fit in a wide variety of situations, but the more specific a quote is, the better.

Here's an example:

Roman Shimonov, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at INKAS, says, "The best marketing tool that we use is our product."

Any time a writer asks for a quote about marketing or customer service, this one could fit. Use Google News to look up stories in your vertical and think about what kind of quote you could have pitched in those stories.

Ask for those quotes and save them in a file. Then set alerts using BuzzSumo or Google to notify you when a topic starts trending.

Immediately start sending your pitches to journalists you have already identified at the publications, podcasts, news and radio stations you most wish to cover your business.

Be sure to include a link to the best related breaking news story or stories with your pitch. Time is of the essence, so the more preparation you do in advance, the faster you can get your pitches sent.

Influencer Marketing: Taking WOMM to the Next Level

Shimonov says that the primary way marketers at INKAS find leads and close sales is through word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM). Their clients are satisfied and recommend the company to their friends and associates.

Studies show that 92% of people look to friends and acquaintances when determining if a brand is reliable.

Twice as many sales result from WOMM in contrast to paid advertising, and clients who go to a company because of WOMM are 37% more likely to be loyal to that company than they would be otherwise.

WOMM is crucial to any business, but businesses can use WOMM in an even more focused way by zeroing in on influencer marketing. As Brian Sutter points out in his post "What You Need To Know About Marketing With Influencers," influencer marketing is powerful because it is built on trust and credibility.

As with having a professional video ready to go, cultivating a relationship with an influencer is something you should do immediately. That way, when a favorable time comes to promote yourself in the media, you can go to the influencers you know and ask them to support your content.

When seeking out influencers to connect with, you can identify people in your same niche, but it can be even more helpful if your area of expertise complements theirs. That way you have something to offer them, and you can create content for and promote each other.

Influencer marketing is a fantastic way of making sure that the media coverage you're trying to get is targeting the correct audience. If you've already built a relationship with an influencer, you know that pushing a story to that particular audience will be a valuable use of your time.

Take Advantage of Celebrity Opportunities

Along the same lines as influencer marketing, if celebrities are using your product take advantage of the fact whenever possible.

For instance, not only are government officials like President Buhari interested in armored vehicles but Hollywood is interested in them as well. Canadian-made vehicles like those made by INKAS made appearances in both the Captain America and theFast and the Furious franchises.

What kind of celebrities are in your target audience? Brainstorm lists of both celebrities in the traditional sense (actors, the rich and famous, sports figures, etc.) and also the newer type of celebrities who have large channels on YouTube and Instagram.

Note that the larger the celebrity and their audience, the more it is likely to cost you to get them on board to promote your brand.

Brand Positioning

Is your brand clear in their value statement? Does your site have a USP positioned in the header near or as part of your logo? Do all your employees know what your vision statement is so they can convey that in their day-to-day actions?

Here is an example:

"At INKAS, the company's ultimate goal is to delivera quality product that protects people's lives…"What we are trying to do," says INKAS CEO David Khazanski, is "provide peace of mind. We're trying to provide security for people who do important work all over the world."

How are you positioning your business online and off? Have you made it clear to your target audience why they should choose you over your competition? This is what branding is all about. Read and implement the suggestions from this excellent resource on developing brand guidelines.

Before you set out to get more PR, make sure there is consistency in your branding, you know whom to pitch, and your company has media assets to provide on a moment's notice.

AJ Agrawal

Founder of Verma Media

AJ Agrawal is the founder of Verma Media, a marketing agency that focuses on emerging tech, like blockchain and AI, and on cannabis companies.

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