How to Get Media Coverage for Your Business

Are your traditional PR strategies failing to earn you the type of media coverage and brand-building you desire? Do you struggle to identify the best ways to improve your visibility? Do press releases go nowhere?

We’ve found that many niche companies encounter these issues. Sometimes, the solution can be found by realigning their understanding of media outreach strategies. Indirect digital PR practices can often lead to the same results as direct promotion of products and services.

Original research is often more effective than promotional press releases when it comes to earning media coverage for your business.

Why is Media Coverage Important?

Media coverage accomplishes two things. It creates brand awareness and, in the case of digital PR, can provide crucial link equity for your business’ website. This can help improve your SEO metrics.

Google values websites that provide experience and expertise. Authority is established when media outlets, particularly national media outlets with a high domain authority (DA), link to your site.

So, how do you get national press coverage for your business? Let’s take a look.

Why is Your Business Getting Zero Media Coverage?

Businesses understand the importance of media coverage, but for some, earning press coverage seems particularly difficult. To generate “buzz,” many try traditional outreach methods including press releases, newsletters, and other promotional content. But what if that doesn’t work?

What if your business doesn’t get any media coverage?

3 reasons why traditional PR isn’t earning you digital media coverage:

  • Too competitive: Your business exists in a competitive vertical. You’re either too small, or one of too many, and securing attention feels like a David and Goliath battle. 
  • Too niche: Your business and messaging is too focused to attract the widespread attention
  • Too promotional: The content you’re pitching is overly promotional. As a result, it comes across as an advertisement rather than substantive content. 

For many B2B companies, failure to earn media coverage is the result of any or all of those factors. Many times, what B2B companies do just doesn’t guarantee media exposure. Which begs the question: What PR strategies capture the attention of relevant journalists for your goals?

How to Get Journalists to Write About Your Business

Before breaking down the type of content journalists do want to write about, it’s equally important to understand what they don’t want to cover.

Journalists are fundamentally opposed to promotional content. Press releases that offer little narrative depth come across like requests for free advertising, which can be problematic in two ways:

  1. The media doesn’t give away free advertisements – Many traditional news organizations are in desperate need of paid advertisements to stay afloat in a shrinking media landscape. A press release that seems too advertorial has a greater chance of being met with a request for sponsorship than it does with actual coverage. Sponsored articles are branded as paid content, and often featured more like advertisements than true news coverage. If your content feels like a sales pitch to a journalist, they’ll pass on it in favor of something that looks more objective
  2. One-sided benefit – Overtly promotional press releases are more likely to be overlooked because they exclusively benefit the business. Without context about impact, there’s no news value to the publication’s audience

Traditional PR, especially for businesses, has its shortcomings. Digital PR, a different beast with different priorities, can sometimes be the answer to how to get media attention. A successful public relations strategy understands and promotes content that journalists are interested in… Content satisfies their quest for new, interesting, and relevant information.

As a digital marketing agency specializing in niche digital PR services, we’ve found that the most well-received content is original research.

What Does Original Research Look Like?

Journalists enjoy original research because it is unique and not fundamentally promotional: it provides context, information, and a clear storyline.

Original research can take many shapes and forms. We focus on four primary types of original content for our clients: search behavior analyses, data research, surveys, and social media analyses.

types of original research

These four basic research structures allow us to produce content that is tangentially relevant to each client’s industry while avoiding the promotional pitfalls of focusing exclusively on their services and products. They also all have broader appeal to a wide audience: journalists love to cover stories on broad trends and topics Americans are already talking about. 

We fight the promotional tendencies of traditional PR and the genre limitations of the press release by producing research that meets the values of newsworthiness. In doing so we are able to accomplish the brand-building goals of public relations, but in an indirect fashion, and reap the SEO value of media coverage as well.

What is Newsworthy?

Journalists will cover things that are newsworthy. When thinking about what makes something newsworthy, you have to think about the targeted audience.

This varies widely according to publication. For publications like NBC News or the New York Times, whose audiences span the United States, standards for newsworthiness are more all-encompassing. Newsworthy stories cover a broad range of topics, from national and international news, to business and consumer trends, and major current events.

Industry-specific media outlets, on the other hand, would find an entirely different set of pitches newsworthy. An automotive magazine wouldn’t write about a new medical breakthrough, but they would find a recent safety study about the effectiveness of certain mechanical technology to be newsworthy.

Knowing the type of media you want coverage from is important. If you want niche coverage, think about niche subjects. If you’re looking to secure national media coverage, consider content that is more universally applicable. 

Eight news values that make your content “newsworthy

The more elements of news value something has, the more “newsworthy” it’s deemed. Generally speaking, the world of journalism accepts eight elements of newsworthiness: impact, prominence, timeliness, proximity, currency, human interest, conflict, and the unusual.

Circles listing the 8 elements of newsworthiness

Original research satiates a journalist’s hunger for something new, relevant, and current, while establishing yourself, or your business as an authority on a newly published report.

  • Timeliness: It’s inherently “new” or “just released” – think breaking news 
  • Currency: Capitalizing on popular economic trends, holidays, and human/consumer behavior meets this tenet
  • Human Interest: The focus of the content answers a question that the masses can relate to
  • Proximity: Add a local component to your research. Find data points that are specific to individual cities or states so that the news story is relevant to both wider and smaller audiences
  • Impact: Create data that feels important or noteworthy to a journalist’s audience
  • Prominence: The subject (human, institution, or otherwise) is well known – maybe it’s a celebrity, or maybe it’s something we all know, like taxes
  • Conflict: There’s a controversy at the heart of this content (note: this can be tricky for clients to want from a brand reputation perspective, as oftentimes it generates conflict in its reception as well)
  • The Unusual: Whether it’s odd facts like blue laws or a unique approach, this content stands out – and alone– in the crowd

How do you Make Newsworthy Content?

The question you may now be asking is, how can my business create newsworthy content? 

Many believe they have to produce content that directly relates to their services, products, or brand. Marketing doctrine tells us that brand identity and positioning are key, so it might feel risky to stray from direct promotion. But under this assumption, it can be a struggle to create original research that is both relevant and newsworthy.

But there’s a type of original research that strikes a balance between business relevancy and newsworthy: Tangential content.

What is “tangential” content?

Tangential content looks at the sphere in which your business operates and identifies tangentially related subjects that fall within the surrounding sphere.

ven diagram illustrating relevancy of content

We help our clients publish and promote this exact type of original research and have seen tremendous results. In 2019 alone, we earned 3,083 media placements across 2,016 unique outlets across the United States and overseas.  

Tangential content falls within the realm of expertise that your company may have, but because it doesn’t directly talk about your business or services, it can more readily meet the standards for newsworthiness than typical content marketing efforts.

It also opens additional opportunities and subject matter which can secure more media attention than the niche expertise of your business.

Don’t believe us? Here’s all the proof you need:

A financial consulting company hired us to handle their digital PR and on-site SEO strategies. Their focus within the larger financial services industry was pretty niche.

Now, if we operated in the realm of traditional PR, we would want to create content directly related to their services, their team, or their accomplishments. Examples of highly relevant content could include: 

  • Press releases about their specific clients’ growth and successes
  • An analysis of the technology industry
  • A how-to about investing strategies

Do those topics sound like something you’d come across on NBC News or USA Today? Most likely, no. They’re too narrowly focused. They’re slightly promotional, and they’d only be considered newsworthy to a very small number of writers.  

If we move into the realm of link-building digital PR, tangential content reigns supreme. We’re able to broaden the scope of relevant content topics, to a much larger pool of tangential ideas. In doing so, we’re able to enlarge the size of the potential audiences and publications that would be interested in the content.

tangential research ideas for financial company

The original research we created with the client consisted of a 2,000 person survey about monthly subscription fees. The survey revealed that most consumers grossly underestimate their monthly expenditures for things like cable, WiFi, subscription boxes, and streaming services by 88%. 

The content had earned 113 linking placements in the likes of CNBC, USA Today, Forbes, NBC News, and the Wall Street Journal

One of the main reasons this study earned such widespread media coverage was because of its balance of tangential relevancy and broad news interest.

Had we been limited by the constraints of traditional PR and forced to create original research directly related to the client’s work, we would not have been able to produce a piece of content that most Americans, and subsequently most general news publications, would relate to. And that is how a niche business can secure national press coverage. 

Align Your Content Creation to Your Goals

At the end of the day, the content has to match the goal. 

If a company wants to increase brand awareness within its industry, get its name out among potential customers, or garner some “good PR,” then traditional PR tactics and promotional content may work to accomplish that goal. 

However, if a company’s goal is to attract widespread media attention and increase visibility, but that company has a narrow focus, less name recognition, or niche services, it’s nearly impossible to earn that type of broad coverage by producing exclusively relevant content. Digital PR can open the doors to media coverage by larger, and more authoritative, publications by allowing companies the freedom to create content that is more newsworthy and less promotional.

There are multiple paths toward visibility, but to leverage media coverage to achieve that visibility, digital PR is a great choice and much more likely to secure widespread media coverage. 

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Lyndsey Maddox

Director of Business Development
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