By: Zachary Vito, Senior Account Executive
Recently, a client inquired about why they were included in a story that highlighted the different vendors in their respective enterprise technology space. They were thrilled with the placement, but confused as to how the reporter decided that they were a part of his story, since the journalist had not previously spoken to the company or written about them in the past. So the question is:
What is this startup in a highly competitive space doing that put themselves onto the journalist’s radar and inserted them into the conversation?
For one, we persistently shared our relevant product announcements with the reporter in the years leading up to the story, and not too long before the story was published, we shared our most recent announcement with him. This brings me to my first point:
1. Put out a consistent stream of press releases
Press releases give you a good reason to get on the radar of key reporters and journalists that are covering your space. While many reporters will not write a story merely about your press release (because company news isn’t necessarily ‘news’), the announcement shows company activity and that you are moving in a direction.
By giving writers a heads up about your press releases, it demonstrates that you are making an effort to keep them in the loop. If they don’t want to be kept in the loop because your company is too far outside the reporter’s coverage area, they will let you know after you send them a first note. But otherwise, a non-response from them doesn’t mean they didn’t receive your news, and further down the line your persistence may secure you a placement in one of their stories about your space.
2. Offer vendor neutral, expertise and thought leadership to reporters and editors on a consistent basis
The context in which you reach out the reporter is more important than you may think. Journalist receive mountains of the same emails every day, usually asking something of the reporter (take an interview, look at a study, etc.). But that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to hear from you. In the same idea that news about your company isn’t always (or hardly ever is) actual ‘news’ to the reporter or your industry, remember that reporters are first and foremost looking for credential sources and expert insights to add to their stories. By reaching out to a reporter to offer your company’s spokesperson as an expert who can provide some expertise towards their beat or coverage area for upcoming stories, you are approaching the reporter in a different way than most and will have a chance to get on their radar as a potential expert or source for future articles.
3. Take a stance on pressing issues, don’t be scared to have an opinion
While proprietary data, expert insight and customer use cases will always be worth their weight in gold for reporters, sometimes saying what most people won’t say is also an assets to a reporter’s story. When it comes to inserting yourself into a conversation, especially one that may have two distinct viewpoints (not necessarily opposing), offering up a hard stance on an issue, with logical support to back up the viewpoint, is a good way to ensure you’re be mentioned in the conversation or story. More often than not, the format and narrative of these stories is similar, regardless of the issue, so it’s more a matter of anticipating that the story will be written and getting in front of the reporter at the right time.
I recently attended a panel featuring journalists from Quartz and the Guardian among other notable publications and I find it fitting to leave you with one piece of advice a reporter offered, which may help you insert yourself into future stories or secure the attention of journalists.
The advice is along the lines of this: “Don’t be afraid to talk about what goes wrong and your failures, as long as you follow up with how you solved the problem or overcame the obstacles.” Readers are looking for answers to their own problems, so by walking out onto the branch and braving the potential ridicule that comes with failure, your telling a more interesting story than most of your competitors and in the long run, this will help you be remembered by writers in stories to come and receive organic mentions as well as be included in their key industry articles.