How to Get the Media Interested in Your Product (Op-Ed)

If Paul Krugman wrote in the Sunday New York Times, “A young economist named John Smith has written the clearest, most compelling and most frightening prediction about the next economic crisis that I have ever read,” I would be much more likely to seek out and read Smith’s message than I would be if Smith had instead:

  • advertised on a billboard
  • sent me an email
  • friended me on Facebook, or
  • sent me a discount coupon to buy the book on Amazon

Getting written about, or publishing your work, is an excellent way to demonstrate credibility and get an audience for your ideas, a donor to your cause or a buyer for your product.

In the fictional example above, I’m interested in John Smith’s book because a news medium I trust and a writer I respect have endorsed it. But getting that kind of endorsement is not easily accomplished. Media relations (the part of public relations where companies are trying to generate media coverage) only works if your company really has something newsworthy to say, and if you say it to the right person.

If you really want to waste a bunch of time and alienate reporters and editors, start spewing press releases to every email address you can find. Tell them about every new hire, new client or new step in your ongoing project to conquer the sharpest-pencil-in-the-world market.

But if you want results from media relations, treat the media like the other relationships you’re initiating, nurturing and eventually closing. Target the right people with a message that meets their needs better than anyone else does. Build credibility with each one individually by sharing information only when the match between message and target is right.

Start with the right audience

To make media relations worthwhile, you must do your research. Identify the media outlets writing about your industry. Find the reporters who cover stories like yours and the editors who assign the stories.

Go beyond the local newspapers. Where are your clients (or prospects) getting their news? Ask them, or take a look at the magazines on their waiting-room tables. Consider trade publications that cover your target industries. Don’t overlook blogs and online publications, which are more likely be seeking content than print publications, and offer added benefits for search engine optimization (SEO).

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Janet Altman is a Marketing Principal at Kaufman Rossin, one of the Top 100 CPA and advisory firms in the U.S.