Recently, I made some updates to the mission of CBNation and Blue 16 Media. The goal was to simplify the messaging around what we were doing to help out entrepreneurs and business owners. We are increasing the success rate of business owners and that's executed by increasing the visibility of businesses through our products and services but also resources that are available to business owners. At the core, we are in the “Visibility Game.”
This month is dedicated to Visibility so it seems like a perfect time to compose this post with some ideas for visibility for business owners related to being featured in the news.
Rather than reinvent the wheel or regurgitate any of the content that has been created. I wanted to create something that was tailored to a specific type of visibility–earned media. If you are looking for digital marketing, I would check out the 20+ podcast episodes for the You Are A Media Company Course site.
According to HubSpot, earned media, or earned content, is any material written about you or your business that you haven't paid for or created yourself. Although this type of media is always published by a third party, there are ways marketers can position themselves for earned media opportunities.
The last couple of weeks, I visited 1 Million Cups (if you're in the DC area, check it out on our resource page. It's a fantastic organization).
One of the things that I mentioned in response to an entrepreneur's challenge question was to use local blogs and podcasts to build a groundswell of media about your business about what you are doing.
When I mentioned this, one of the presenters said, “That's a great idea, but how do I do it?”
I answered there but because it came up the week after as well, I decided I would compose this post to explain.
Things to Keep In Mind
First and foremost, I manage CBNation.co and we leverage many of these tools from a journalistic perspective. I also get bombarded with pitches and e-mails and while we aren't a Washington Post, CNN or one of the larger news organizations (yet :-)) there are some principles that are very true no matter the organization. Many I outlined here.
Secondly, everything I mention takes time. If you lack the time or aren't okay with hearing no (which often stands for not yet or not now) then this may not work well for you. You can also hire a PR professional that already has contacts, time and expertise to save you a lot of the frustration. However, check out what Mark Cuban said about this. Also, check out these two resources Helpareporterout.com, Source Bottle and PodcastGuests.com that are also featured on our CEOHack page.
#1 – It's not easy to get mentioned but what you want to do is leverage things that you have to your advantage. Before you think that you don't have anything to leverage, think again. We all do. Often that leverage may be in your story or your “secret sauce.”
Remember: What makes you unique? Why did you start your business? What problem are you solving? Very similar to your marketing strategy before you jump in, get crystal clear on your story and your USP which often overlaps. (Check out this podcast episode and this podcast episode if it helps with that exercise.) Speaking and interviewing thousands of business owners on blogs or podcasts, we all have a story. This is largely why it's the first question that I ask on the I AM CEO Podcast.
#2 – Keep a few things in mind, many media sites or content creators are bombarded with e-mails, DMs, old fashioned mail and sometimes even phone calls. Put yourself in our shoes. Often we want to get back to everyone but it ends up being too much. I have an auto-responder to help, created a blog post and I even put a lot of resources in place to make it easier for people like our FAQ page and I still get a lot of the same e-mailed questions.
Remember: The more popular (traffic) and smaller the team, it's harder to get a response. Keep that in mind and don't get discouraged. Also, get crystal clear on the media site that you are reaching out to and what value you are able to provide. Often you can find a lot of very niche traditional blog sites, video blogs or even podcasts that are looking for guests if you do a little research. Keep in mind everyone is listening to the station WIIFM–What's in it for me so make sure you are positioning yourself and providing value for the person you are pitching AND their typical reader, viewer or listener.
#3 – Just start reaching out. Here's the thing you want to keep in mind that a lot of people forget. You want to have a “You Are a Media Company (YAMC)” mindset. What this means is that often to really break through you might have to tell your story and create content yourself first. This can be through the content you create on your blog, social media sites or even starting your own podcast or YouTube channel. You can certainly take a PR class or go through a course, or even read a blog post, like some that we have here and here.
Remember: There's levels to this. You might have to start on your own platform and build a following first and then you will start to get picked up by smaller, niche and local outlets and then after you are featured there, leverage those to pitch to the medium-sized media outlets, then larger, then national, then global and so on and so forth.
#4 – If you get picked up make sure you are available and ready. If you're not picked, don't be afraid to ask WHY. This response (if you end up getting one) might be the insight you need to to provide your target EXACTLY what they are looking for. Also, please don't be rude. I've gotten a lot of rude e-mails from people that take it personally they weren't selected. Stay professional and don't be discouraged. Also keep in mind our inboxes can look scary (even with assistants and VAs) and we can't include EVERYONE–no matter how much we want to. We try to literally respond to everyone especially when we do HARO responses.
Remember: Your pitch will vary and you can always start with a boilerplate and then customize it based on what your goal and who you are pitching. Make sure you have a call to action as well. Sometimes, I read messages but I”m not sure exactly what they are asking because there's not a call to action. Do they want me to review the book? Would they like to be on the podcast? Would they like an e-mail interview? Video interview, etc.? Make sure you make it easy for the person that you're pitching. Give them some ideas of what you're thinking.
#5 – Lastly don't forget to say “Thank You.” You're building long-term relationships and you never know who will end up where or what they're building for tomorrow.
Remember: If you want to break through the noise, go as far as sending a good-old fashioned card. It goes a long way because very few people are doing it.
I figured I would share one of the best pitches I received below. This is why I thought the person nailed it:
- It was complimentary and memorable
- Very specific–I can tell from the e-mail address it came from, they were most likely looking at my LinkedIn or my personal website.
- Had a call to action (I would probably take it a step further and say reply back and we can schedule a time to speak)
The only thing I would have recommended this person do was to follow up 2-3 times and possibly make it known that you will follow up, he/she never did and that's often what it takes. Even for podcast guest I will follow up 2-3 times and largely that is what it takes. However, don't be afraid to continue to follow up 5-7 times. That's often the minimum it takes.