GUEST POST from Ashley Love
Raise your hand if as a solopreneur you’ve been envious of the media coverage that people like Marie Forelo and Gary Vaynerchuk. I won’t lie. I was completely envious of all of their media attention. It completely validates your business when places like Forbes and Entrepreneur want to feature you and your business. So how does the average solopreneur earn a spot in a coveted publication?
Today I’m breaking down the steps you need to take if you want to see your face in those types of publications.
Step 1: Do Your Research
When I was a journalist, I saw a huge problem in how much research people did before pitching. Do your homework!Determine which publications would be best suited for your brand. (This needs to be mutually beneficial, but more about that later).
Once you have a list, ask yourself these questions for each publication: What topics do they routinely feature? What types of people do they feature? Which journalists write about your niche? Do they have a regular section or column?
Step 2: Make the Pitch
When pitching a journalist, make sure to include your credentials. I grew up in a doctor’s office (family business), but I’m certainly not qualified to write about medical and health topics. Share your experience so the journalist knows you’re an expert in your field. Maybe you have a ton of education? Maybe you’ve won awards? Maybe you achieve stellar results? Whatever makes you an expert in your field, share it.
Also, reference previous articles the journalist has written in your pitch to show you’ve done your homework. Trust me, they’ll love seeing that you took the time to read their work.
Email is the best way to reach journalists. Voicemails get lost and, frankly, they don’t have time to listen to them and get back to you. Also, don’t discount social media. Make connections with journalists on Twitter or other social media and build a rapport with them. This will eventually come in handy, I promise.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t make headlines your first go-around. Even if a journalist chooses not to write what you pitch, they’ll save your contact information if they need a source for a future story.
Step 3: Be Accessible
Don’t send an email to a journalist and then disappear. If you’re going on vacation, don’t pitch a journalist the day before. Wait until you get back from your trip to make the pitch. Always be sure to include a phone number, email address, and social media channels in your email. If a journalist can’t get ahold of you via your email, they have other means to contact you. This also allows a journalist to check out your social media and website to validate your expert status.
Step 4: Update Your Website
Journalists are constantly on tight deadlines, so you want to make working with you easy. Have a media section of your website where they can easily find and download your headshot, logo (both color and black and white), product images, and any other relevant images or information to help with their story.
Step 5: Use the Community Calendar
Instead of sending a press release to a journalist who gets 1,000 a day and doesn’t read most or any of them, submit your event-related content to the publication’s free community calendar. When there’s a hole in their publication, journalists look to the community calendar to find anything exciting enough to warrant a story. Also, most papers regularly publish their community calendars online and in print. If you plan far enough ahead, your event could be in the paper for weeks.
Also, invite relevant journalists to your events. Sitting at a desk and writing on a deadline is stressful. They love getting out of the office and seeing things in action. Give them a chance to ditch their desk and come enjoy some quality time at your event. Bonus if you have free food available.
Step 6: Create Connections
This one is important. Remember, I said to reach out to journalists via Twitter and not just send a boring press release. If you make connections with journalists, you can offer them exclusives about your business. Just be careful about offering too many exclusives; other journalists you may have a relationship with may feel left out and become less willing to print your news. Be cautious but if done right, you can expect amazing results.
Step 7: Be real
Don’t use buzzwords or jargon just because you think they sound cool. Most journalists for local publications are told to keep their writing on a sixth-grade reading level so it’s accessible. Using industry words no one else understands won’t help your case. Save those pieces for industry-specific publications. Keep your pieces human and authentic. Be unique, but don’t oversell your services or event. If you exaggerate your business, you’ll become the boy who cried wolf and no one wants that.
We all want to be featured in big-time publications, but don’t be afraid to start locally. The more articles about you, the better. The more backlinks pointing to your website, the easier it is for a journalist to justify featuring you to an editor.
Ashley Love is an international award-winning brand strategist and business mentor. She holds a B.A. in English, a B.S. in Political Science, an M.A. in Multimedia Journalism and an M.A. in Public Relations. She’s worked with major nonprofits, politicians, startups, and solopreneurs. She’s a former editor of the lifestyle section of a local newspaper. Now she focuses her attention on helping female entrepreneurs embrace their passions and create a laptop lifestyle. You can find her regularly hanging out in her Facebook group, The Classy CEO.