In my first startup I had no money and absolutely no marketing budget. I needed some buzz, so I called the Assignment Editor for a small local TV station.
I was lucky, it was a slow news day. It was summer time, no one had drowned, no car accidents, no fires! For regular people it was a good day, for an Assignment Editor it was a crisis and I was offering a solution.
I had less than a minute to pitch my story to the assignment editor, the story of a startup with a few local clients who had photogenic locations. I made the call in the morning and my company was featured on the 6 o’clock TV News that night.
It was great to have third party validation that our little company was worthy of news coverage. The video was professionally done and delivered to our TV free of charge!
Using a recording of my news appearance I was able to get investors and generate some momentum. I never looked back!
Prior to social media, all media was policed by editors. If you wanted to get your story published or covered, you had to get approval from these gatekeepers. In fairness, editors are necessary in a medium that’s inherently finite, like a TV News Casts, a Radio Program or a Newspaper.
BYOA – Bring Your Own Audience
These days the game has changed. Obviously, you have access to plenty of communication options that have no gatekeepers. With an account on any social media platform you can send your message to the world. But social media doesn’t reach every market and conventional media has an air of credibility and third party validation.
Conventional media, like TV, Radio and Print is still a factor for many markets.
Ironically, even with conventional Media, your social media reach is a big factor in today’s competitive landscape.
In the old days (10 years ago), you supplied the story and the media supplied the audience. These days your chances of having a story covered go up substantially if you can supply both the story and the audience.
Media organizations are increasingly becoming aware that hits on their site go up when they interview a subject who has a large social media footprint. For this reason it’s vital that you build your social media audience in advance of pursuing an interview with more established media organizations.
It also helps to measure and track your social reach.
I use a service called Klout.com. Klout.com provides an easy metric, called a Klout Score, that measures your reach across several popular social media platforms. Klout is not very effective at measuring the impact of your Blog and your presence as a guest on third party blogs and it could use a lot more improvement. But it’s free and it will give you a crude sense of your worth and allow you to track your progress as you do the missionary work of building your social media presence.
When you’re making your pitch to an editor, don’t forget to make mention of your social media reach. If you have thousands of Twitter followers, don’t be shy.
Attracting Press Coverage
Many companies send out press releases. We do this for MondoPlayer and we have never seen a result. But it can be helpful in building links to your website, so we do this despite the fact that it won’t result in coverage.
These days, you’re far more likely to be contacted by the conventional press if you are a thoughtful user of Twitter. Most reports are tapped into Twitter as an engine for new story ideas. But any reporter plugged into social media will naturally be turned off if you don’t have thousands of followers and you don’t have a compelling presence on social media.
Ultimately the best evidence of a company’s newsworthiness is its social reach. So be bold, pitch your story, but don’t forget to BYOA – bring your own audience.