Like it or not, the media still matters.
Yes, the media landscape is ever changing and evolving, as it always will. It now involves and revolves around strategic digital and social media strategies. Gone are the days of the traditional press release. Government officials, not just President Trump, but the likes of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, are now putting official announcements out on Twitter. It’s faster, easier and still reaches a wide audience when traditional media picks it up.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans (68% according to Pew Research Center) consume their news from social media in snack-sized snip-its and 10-second videos. As a result, many mainstream and traditional news outlets are migrating toward online-only platforms – CBSN and Fox Nation have joined the space recently and they seem to be sticking. Most print media has also followed suit and adopted digital forms. All this can make it possible to elevate a completely unknown business, brand or individual to a household name quickly.
The media also still shines the spotlight on important issues and uncovers fraud. Without the media the public may never have found out about the alleged dangerous fraud being perpetuated by Elizabeth Holmes and her company Theranos, which falsely claimed to have revolutionized blood testing from a small fingerprick. That example is scary. I shudder at the thought of the dangers people could have been put in if Theranos had been able to continue to give false test results.
As a former network news producer, I’m a communicator who wants to help others tell their stories, sell their books, and get exposure for their brands. So where do you start with getting media coverage? Here are 5 ways to navigate and stay relevant in today’s media landscape — because it matters!
Content Remains King
One thing that hasn’t changed much, is the importance of good content. Sure, the medium might be different than just a few years ago, but authors, entrepreneurs, small businesses, corporations, non-profits – they all need good content and a clear message to put in front of the media. And new digital channels mean that all those above can become influencers within their industry and among their target audiences. Digital also allows for greater control over content. A business owner can become a thought leader by developing a great blog, or a brand can have a highly followed social media profile, when the only option used to be hoping the media outlet you did an interview with relayed your message properly.
Find Your Audience
Of course you want to get that “coveted spot” on the TODAY show or Good Morning America, but mainstream doesn’t always further your message. Instead dive deep into your smaller, niche audience to find out what they care about. What interests do they have in your book, your message, your brand? Why should they read or watch your stuff? With a good understanding of that, you’ll be able to create an editorial point-of-view to build upon and develop targeted content.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to click on something when there is an interesting photo or video. It’s our nature. We are drawn to things that we can see and react or relate to. The first thing I ask clients is – how can this message or story be told visually? And get creative with visuals. The more eye-catching, the better. It’s also ok to leave people with a question about the visual so they have to read on. Just be sure to make the connection between the visual and the topic you are discussing.
Because more and more information goes out on social media, the media pulls story ideas and experts from social media. 80% of journalists say they research their stories on social media. So make it easy for journalists to find out about you, your book, your product, your brand. Share stories that are relatable, in short snip-its. Your press release might be about a protest outside a company’s offices, but maybe one of the protestors has a great personal story they are willing to share.
Do your research! Find out when certain publications go to print, how long of a lead they need to consider stories (for some it can be up to 6 months out) or when a particular producer’s show airs. Ten minutes before air is NOT a good time to call them or send an email because chances are it will not get seen. Going back to the protest – it might be difficult to get journalists to come to your demonstration outside a company’s offices, but if you protest outside the company’s annual meeting where they are making an announcement, business correspondents will likely already be there. If you reach out to them in advance, they might be willing to speak with you.