Tips for Getting Featured: Unlocking the Door to Top-tier Media Exposure

For businesses seeking to boost their brand, few things are as impactful as top-tier media exposure. Yet few things are as difficult to achieve as this exposure, and unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. Even long-time public relations professionals with excellent contacts cannot guarantee quick access to top-tier opportunities, though some practices can streamline the process.

One of the best places to focus your energy if you are seeking top-tier placements is pitching. A great pitching process can unlock the door to top-tier media exposure, ensuring that you get noticed by the people who are crafting top-tier coverage, as well as reveal fresh opportunities that others have yet to discover.

Pitching 101

A pitch is what lets the media know you have a story worth telling. It explains who your client is, highlighting their expertise and the unique voice they bring to key topics, and positions your client as someone who can add value to trending conversations.

A well-crafted pitch will normally include a compelling headline to attract attention as it hits the outlet’s inbox, along with a concise summary that explains the key facts of the story and why it is newsworthy. Beyond that, a pitch can include some supporting stats to reinforce the value of the story and a call to action that directs the outlet to the next step in making contact.

The power of pitch alignment

Modern technology makes it extremely tempting to practice what is commonly known as mass pitching: preparing a generic pitch on a broad topic — such as the release of a new book or the launching of a new product — and using a digital platform to send copies of the pitch to thousands of potential outlets. While this practice might be efficient, it is often far from effective, especially with top-tier outlets.

A better path to top-tier exposure is aligned pitching. Developing this type of pitch begins with understanding an outlet’s target audience because the more you can align your pitch to resonate with that target audience, the higher the chance they will take notice and follow up.

For example, a financial advisor seeking top-tier exposure in an outlet targeting retirees could focus a pitch on solutions for optimizing retirement savings. In comparison, a pitch focused on setting up a retirement account would not be valuable to the readers of that outlet.

Track with the news for optimal impact

It’s also important to note that most media outlets are seeking stories that track with trending news. Consequently, pitches designed to tie in with current stories will have the most value for the outlet.

If the economy takes a downturn, media outlets will be looking for articles that help their audience to navigate the change. In this case, a pitch from a realtor on what the downturn means for buying and selling homes will be more valuable than an evergreen piece on how to prepare a home for a great showing. A pitch from a business leader on how corporate budgets might need to be adjusted in light of the downturn is another example of a pitch that leverages the latest news.

Pitches that feel fresh and relevant do more than just increase your chances of attracting an outlet’s attention — they position the spokesperson for the pitch as someone who is up-to-date on current topics. Establishing that type of reputation with an outlet can make it easier to land pitches in the future.

Always be professional

Engaging with media outlets in a professional manner is another important part of pitching. The reporter or editor who receives the pitch is a busy person, with statistics showing they may receive as many as 20 pitches a day, further adding to an already heavy workload. Any steps you take to communicate courteously and professionally will increase your odds of making a fruitful connection.

The tone you take with follow-up messages is one factor that can help in this area. Make sure it’s respectful, as being critical or demanding will probably get your pitch deleted — regardless of how valuable its content might be.

Always offer more

It’s not unusual to get a response that says the outlet is not interested at this time. When that happens, offer more and follow up with a message that keeps the conversation going.

For example, if a reporter says they aren’t interested in your pitch, let them know you would be happy to help with whatever story they are currently working on. This shows them you are willing to go the extra mile for their benefit, which could help to unlock an opportunity.

As a PR professional who represents many clients, I often respond to messages that communicate a lack of interest by explaining I represent several clients who can contribute valuable content on a wide range of issues. I have seen this approach lead to client placements on a number of occasions.

I also check in with my media contacts at least once a month to offer help with the stories they are preparing. This strategy has landed some remarkable top-tier opportunities for my clients, especially around the holidays when it can be more difficult to track down an expert for a timely article.

Crafting a compelling pitch is a critical step in achieving top-tier exposure. Aligning the content with the outlet’s readers, leveraging the latest news, and establishing an ongoing, professional conversation with reporters and editors are key steps you can take to optimize pitches and unlock top-tier opportunities.

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