Getting exposure in media outlets involves a lot of work, but the potential payoff is significant. A well-placed story in one or more publications will frequently provide a higher return on investment than almost any other marketing method. If you’re hoping to get your marketplace platform featured in a journalist’s story, here’s how to go about doing so.
1. Understand The Pitching Process.
If you’re going to get a story in a media outlet, whether a local paper or a national magazine, you first must understand how stories are pitched. Journalists find and develop pieces in a variety of ways. When businesses are prominently featured, however, the process usually goes something like this:
- You come up with a captivating idea.
- You find journalists who might write about your idea.
- You send pitches to those journalists.
- You follow up with those journalists.
Should a journalist like your idea, they may decide to write the piece. Up to that point, however, you — as the business owner — do all of the work. Notice how many of the above steps feature “you” doing an action.
When journalists need sources for specific stories, there are a couple of ways they might go about finding people. Services like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and ProfNet relay requests from journalists, but there’s often a lot of competition from potential sources and landing a feature via these sources takes up a lot of time. Alternatively, journalists may call or email a source they know — but that’s almost never a business owner with a startup marketplace platform.
Feel free to try services, but you’ll soon find they offer little return for the time you invest. You’ll get much better results using the steps outlined above instead.
2. Forget Press Releases.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to forget about doing press releases. There are simply too many of them for yours to have a decent chance of being written about.
Press releases might help you build backlinks for search engine optimization, but SEO isn’t the same as getting media coverage. If you want to be in a legit publication that people actually read, you’ll need to pitch journalists instead of rely on press releases.
3. Get Creative With Your Idea.
The first step is, by far, the most important. Journalists receive pitches constantly, and yours will only be considered if it stands out from all the others. After all, journalists want to write captivating and unique pieces, and they need interesting stories to do so.
When brainstorming potentially captivating ideas, think beyond the product or service that your marketplace platform offers. Use your experience, knowledge and interests to create angles few other people have. Here are just a few ideas to get your brainstorming started:
- Use your expertise to apply national events (e.g. new laws) to your local area
- Offer a historic perspective of your area through old business photographs and stories
- Provide how-to guides for other marketplace owners so they can replicate your success
- Give commentary on industry events and related
- Conduct studies that offer practical insights into problems people deal with
In today’s analytical culture, the last idea (conducting studies) can be especially effective. RunRepeat used just this strategy, and its study landed 30 media mentions the day it was released. The platform’s since been featured in over 100 publications thanks to studies that the company conducted.
Coming up with a captivating idea will take time, but it’s the most essential part of the process. Don’t be afraid to spend a long time getting the perfect pitch, for it’s the quality of your idea that will make it stand out. Once you do have a great pitch, you can use it over and over. Airtame (the most successful Indiegogo project at the time) was recycling their crowdfunding success story a year after they were funded.
4. Pitch People With Your ideas.
After you get an idea, start identifying journalists to pitch. Just remember you’re pitching people — and not publications. Don’t worry about where your story will end up. Deciding what publication would be best is the job of journalists and editors. Your task is to provide a story people can’t resist writing about and reading. All you have to do is identify and connect with those people. Call (instead of email) and be persistent. If your idea is worthy, someone will want to write about it.