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5 Creative Ways to Earn Media Coverage Even When You Don't Have News Positive, ongoing media coverage is more than just good brand awareness — but most organizations don't have news to share all the time. Marketing and PR teams need to get creative to keep that media coverage coming. Here are a few ideas.

By Tim Johnson Edited by Kara McIntyre

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Whether a startup or a Fortune 500 company, earning positive and continuous media coverage is an important part of building strong relationships with customers, partners, investors, employees, regulators and other key audiences.

Yet even the largest organizations often do not have a steady stream of news to report, which begs the question — how can you earn positive media coverage when there's no news? With a little creativity and chutzpah, there are actually quite a few ways to general high-quality, consistent coverage.

Related: 6 Ways to Wring All the Value from Your Earned Media Coverage

Why strong media coverage matters

Strong media coverage supports an organization by maintaining a positive brand and as one component of a comprehensive business development marketing program. There are a million definitions of a brand; put simply, a brand is the image, personality and value proposition of, and trust in a product or service. If you think of a brand as a bank account; strong, positive, accurate and continuous media coverage are "deposits" into that account. When there is a negative event, such as a product recall, an ad campaign that is criticized or an employee commits a crime, these are "withdrawals" from that account. A strong brand enables the management team to take remedial action, apologize for the event and move forward, often without a negative impact on sales.

Ongoing media coverage also supports business development to varying degrees. If one accepts a sales cycle or funnel as including the traditional five phases — inform, educate, excite, trial and sale — positive media coverage accelerates the sales cycle in the inform, educate and excite phases for all products and services, whether a $20 computer mouse or a $100,000 software subscription. For less expensive products, media coverage alone will accelerate the trial and final sale as well.

With this in mind, here are five creative strategies to increase the quality and quantity of any organization's media coverage.

1. Creative content

Media aim to cover new content that reports on news or trends. This content can take many forms, here are just three examples:

  • Surveys: Surveys can range from statistically significant polls of several thousand respondents to highly in-depth interviews of as few as 10 subject experts. To generate media coverage that supports the organization, the subject matter should somehow relate to the organization. The key to a successful survey is to identify news or trends that create "aha" moments. Of course, this can be difficult to predict as the marketing team develops the survey instrument, but one helpful approach is to envision the media headlines the marketing team wants and structure the survey questions around those.
  • Aggregated data: Many companies collect data on their customers they can aggregate, sort and analyze, often revealing interesting trends. As long as the company does not reveal any personally identifiable information (PII) and complies with state and industry-specific data privacy regulations, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), this is a perfectly legitimate practice.
  • Infographics: Infographics enable a marketing team to offer their organization's point of view in a visually-attractive, simple way. Some media will use infographics alone, others will include an infographic along with an article on the subject.

Related: Why Earned Media Is the Best Way to Earn Your Reputation

2. Creative outreach

Media receive literally hundreds of emails a day, each proposing an article or broadcast segment idea. Marketers need to break through that clutter to get their messages across.

With media returning to their offices, many at least part-time, one approach is a "press kit in a box." This is a package with inexpensive items related to the article/broadcast segment idea. Human curiosity dictates that the recipient will open the package. For example, a company promoting a new exercise app might send a T-shirt with the company's logo, an exercise band and a Luna bar, along with a card with a QR code containing a press release and other information to support the story they are pitching.

3. Creative targeting

A core strategy for marketing teams trying to earn coverage is to "find a home for the story." Clearly, marketers need to reach out to banking reporters when pitching a new banking product. But there is often a wide group of reporters that might be interested in the story. Is there a human interest element to the story, i.e. did the bank develop the new product as a result of consumer input? Or does the new product enable people who previously couldn't afford to buy a home now able to receive a mortgage? Finding microtrends and other stories within the wider story can extend your media outreach and opportunity for coverage.

4. Creative use of influencers

Media will often look for outside sources to corroborate a story idea. Providing this support early on when proposing an article/segment idea can both attract additional media interest and accelerate the story development cycle. Any number of sources can act as credible influencers. These include industry analysts, independent research firms, law or accounting firms with recognized expertise on a given topic, investors and even bloggers. For products or services where customers perceive little differentiation, quotes or testimonials by influencers can tip the balance of closing a sale.

5. Creative packaging

Sometimes organizations have interesting content that is unorganized or developed for different purposes than for public consumption. By recasting that information to tell a specific story, organizations can "create something out of nothing." By packaging that information as a quarterly update, for example, the organization can conduct quarter-by-quarter trend analysis, which provides an added layer of insights beyond just the information itself.

Related: Why Media Coverage Is Your Most Powerful Sales Tool

It's time to get creative

Ten years ago, when media accepted article or segment themes, they would handle all the investigative work to prepare the story. Today, many media must publish more content with fewer resources. As a result, they rely on marketing organizations to provide many of the supporting elements of a story — photos, video, testimonial quotes and more. Adding a new level of creativity to media relations enables marketing teams to take advantage of this trend and earn more and better coverage for their organizations.

HubSpot notes in a recent report that 61% of marketers consider lead generation their toughest challenge. While generating brand awareness is important, in today's uncertain economic and hypercompetitive environment, marketers should pull all the levers they can to keep their sales pipeline line full — not just of any leads, but of quality leads. Ongoing, positive media coverage can be a strong contributor to this goal.

Tim Johnson

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

President of UPRAISE Marketing + Public Relations

Tim Johnson is president of UPRAISE Marketing + Public Relations, Inc., a boutique marketing firm. He has more than 40 years’ experience working with organizations to develop marketing programs designed to support brand awareness and business development.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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