How to Become a Media Darling: 6 Dead-Simple Tips

One of the best ways to promote your business, organization, or expertise is to be featured in the news. It’s an independent, unbiased endorsement, after all. Marketers call this earned media.

Put simply, earned media is the visibility you earn when a journalist reports on your product, cause, or organization. It’s not owned media — the channels, tools, and content that you control and use to publish your story. And it’s not paid media — a.k.a. advertising

Beer brewmasterHow’s earned media work? Typically, you or your organization orchestrates a strategic news moment that you share with reporters. It’s not free media. You earn it — not only through the newsworthiness of your story, but through the sheer work it takes to land the coverage.

Sounds easy, right? Okay, maybe “easy” isn’t the right word. But what’s easy isn’t worth doing anyway — right? Have you ever wanted to be the brewmaster who is featured on the six o’clock news explaining how a revamped city ordinance led to brew houses sprouting up like recycled beer cans at an aluminum recycling center? To make that happen you could depend on providence — i.e. waiting around for a reporter find you, track you down, and call you. Or you could take the proactive approach recommended by brand journalist Phoebe Chongchua, a former San Diego-based news anchor/reporter, who has been helping clients reach the news media for more than a decade in print, in video, and now in a podcast — The Brand Journalism Advantage, where guests trade tips on storytelling and content marketing best practices.

Think like a journalist

If you’re looking to land some earned media coverage of your own, Chongchua has some tips for Web Content Insider readers. “The reason a lot of companies don’t get called by the media is because the media doesn’t know about them,” Chongchua says. “If you want free publicity from the media, you have to become a ‘notable resource’ to reporters.” That means “thinking like a journalist,” she says.

Here’s how to turn your business into a media darling:

1. Network with reporters. Just as it’s always good to know a great attorney, it’s also good to know a news reporter or brand journalist. Follow them on social media. Contribute ideas for stories not just on your company but on topics in the industry your company is in. If you post comments and begin feeding them unique and interesting stories, you’ll find that reporters will eagerly welcome your posts, emails, and even calls. Don’t waste their time. Be direct and offer pertinent and timely information.

2. Pitch your story and make it matter to many. The story you pitch has to have widespread interest coupled with a personal aspect. Don’t just pitch your company and/or product. Instead, offer to help with information that will benefit the news media audience. Then show how the personal element of the story plays a vital part of that story. Essentially, you’re storyboarding the report for them.

3. Make it easy to locate the “go-to expert” in your company for an interview. As a reporter, Chongchua called companies for interviews and was told, “We’d love to do this story, but the only person who can do the interview is our CEO and he won’t be back for a few hours.” What a shame. Make sure that your front office knows what to do when the media calls. Many connections don’t happen because a receptionist/staff can’t be bothered with a call from a reporter (because it wasn’t viewed as a sales call). How silly! That call could have generated extraordinary publicity and future sales.

4. Have real clients and people available that the media can interview. It’s vital to have past clients that you can recommend for the media to interview. Make sure you’ve pre-screened these clients and know that they can do a quality interview. Nothing is more frustrating than getting a lead for an interview from a company and then having the interview be awful because the referred client isn’t articulate or refused the interview.

5. Think like a journalist before you pitch to a reporter. If you’re pitching a story to a TV reporter, think about what video the reporter would use to tell the story. Some good stories are turned down on TV because there just isn’t any compelling video to accompany the story. It’s like saying you’ve got a good face for radio! Sometimes the story is simply better for print or radio. But if you can help the reporter understand the visuals, there’s a greater chance your story will make it on TV.

6. Use numbers in your press release. The media loves to throw numbers and statistics into news stories. Think about books and titles — numbers and statistics are easy to comprehend.

This video (above) was created for a rug company. It starts with a news hook: How much do college grads spend on home decor? That could easily be a news story that would interest traditional media. While the news media wouldn’t give the company the direct promotional exposure that this story does, it might easily decide to do a story based on the news angle and interview the rug company for the expert information that’s included.

Now that you know the basics, check out more tips from Chongchua on catching the media’s attention.


Special thanks to Phoebe Chongchua for the insights. Chongchua is the founder and host of The Brand Journalism Advantage Podcast, PCIN.TV., Live Fit Magazine, and The Plant-Based Diet.

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.

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About Ed Carpenter

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Posted on January 5, 2015, in Business, Higher education, Marketing, Nonprofits and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on How to Become a Media Darling: 6 Dead-Simple Tips.

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