Tips for making your company an attention magnet
Building and managing a media presence can be invaluable for small businesses and startups. Media coverage can help your company stand out and attract potential customers, investors and business partners. Getting media attention, however, can be a tricky proposition, especially in the crowded startup market.
I often get questions about how I built up BodeTree’s media presence over the past few years. After all, we’re still a relatively small company focused on the unsexy small business space. We don’t have a dedicated media team and we’re located in Denver instead of a media hub like New York or San Francisco. Still, we’ve managed to gain coverage in big-name publications.
Over the years, our media presence has proven to be one our most cost-effective and important marketing channels. We have also learned a few tricks that help garner media coverage without breaking the bank with a regular PR firm retainer.
Make A Powerful Grab For Attention
There’s no magic formula for becoming an attention magnet. It all comes down to your personal style and relationship with reporters. The trick is to think creatively about what you’re willing to do for attention.
Take Lady Gaga, for example. Up until a few years ago, she was a rather ordinary struggling singer-songwriter. However, she had a huge amount of personal drive and was brave enough to create an outrageous public image that defined her.
Fortunately, gaining media attention does not require that you be an inherently theatrical person. Creating an “outrageous” public persona can mean simply thinking outside of the box for your given industry.
My company, BodeTree, for example approaches small business financial management in a somewhat outrageous way—we’re inspired by the Buddhist legend of the Bodhi Tree, where Buddha reaches the highest state of enlightenment and believe that financial enlightenment can be similarly reached. I can say with some certainty that we are the only financial company to cite Buddhist legend in their mission. However, our unconventional approach sets us apart and makes our story more appealing in the media and with potential clients and partners.
Become an incredible source
I started to build my media relationships by offering support to journalists I respected. I’d read through the target publication or watch the TV show religiously to see whose writing and reporting seemed closest in interest to what mine were. Then, I’d send them ideas, content and support.
The important lesson I’ve learned was to avoid outright self-promotion. Instead I focused on helping journalists find background information, identify trends or provide a new take on something they’ve already produced. I also reached out to ask for advice and more information about things they have already written.
As long as you are honest and authentic in your approach, your interest and support will be well received. Once you establish a relationship, you can come back with a pitch to them along with feedback on the help they provided.
Write your own story
Developing content for media partners help position yourself and your company as an expert in a particular area. If you are successful in getting your company’s story out to the media, you’ll eventually run out of things to discuss. After all, a product launch is only relevant right when it’s happening. Inevitably, you’ll have to start creating content that doesn’t directly focus on your product or company.
Be open to new ways of sharing your company story through blogs, social media and video. Use catchy phrases and hashtags to set your story apart or take advantage of trends.
Try to become a storyteller for your audience, drawing on analogies with which they are already familiar. Don’t be afraid to use classic story plots or myth references. Story lines that people can recognize right away have the power of allowing them to follow where you’re leading them and reporters can easily pick up on that.
This is by far the most important tip I have to offer. I can guarantee that you will experience a lot of rejection when it comes to building a media presence. Get used to the standard response of “thanks, but I’ll pass” or no response at all. Don’t give up. Be patient, polite, listen to their responses and criticisms and try to answer those – and always try to help them see that they need what you’ve got.
Just remember that media is not one size fits all. Each writer has a distinctive voice and an editor or boss with clearly defined priorities, and those needs and priorities are constantly shifting. Recognize that a news event can change the game in a flash. If you can trim your sails to catch those changes in the news cycle and avoid the slow spots that inevitably develop in that same cycle, you can keep coming back until you hit the mark.
Think of yourself as a missionary—when your message is heard, it has the power to change people’s lives. Regardless of how firmly you believe that, you must approach the media with that sense of messianic mission, and the passion will come through.