How to get media coverage for your business

Tricia Harte

By Tricia Harte

Failing to earn media coverage for your business using traditional PR strategies? Original research can be more effective than promotional press releases when it comes to getting journalists and national publications to write about your business.

Why is your business getting zero media coverage?

Businesses understand the importance of media coverage when it comes to building consumer awareness. But for some, earning that press coverage seems particularly difficult. Oftentimes, to generate “buzz,” companies resort to press releases and promotional content in newsletters and social media.

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 is too small in comparison to other companies in your industry. You’re competing in a David vs. Goliath field and competition for coverage is fierce. 
  • Too niche: Your business and messaging is too narrowly focused to attract general news publications (television, radio, local newspaper).
  • Too promotional: The content you’re pitching is inherently promotional. As a result, it comes across as an advertisement not something substantive enough to merit coverage.

For many B2B companies, failure to earn media coverage can be the result of a combination of any or all three of those factors. Which begs the question: What PR strategy can you pursue that captures the attention of relevant journalists.

How to get journalists to write about your business

Before going over the types of content that journalists do want to write about, it’s equally important to understand what they don’t want to cover.

Journalism is fundamentally opposed to writing about promotional content. It doesn’t matter if someone writes about industry-specific announcements or day-to-day happenings of a mid-sized American city, media pitches that come across as overtly promotional typically don’t secure mass coverage. That’s not to say a company groundbreaking won’t earn a 100 word mention in a local paper, or a blurb on an industry website, but it won’t assure the type of widespread media coverage that businesses dream of. 

Why? Blatantly promotional press releases come across like requests for free advertising, which can be problematic in two key ways.

  1. They don’t want to 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. Sponsored articles are branded as paid content, and often featured more like advertisements than true news coverage.
  2. One-sided benefit – Overtly promotional press releases are more likely to just be overlooked since they offer a one-sided benefit to the business over the publication being pitched.

A successful public relations strategy, on the other hand, promotes content that journalists are interested in — content that satisfies their quest for new, interesting and relevant information for their audience. As a digital PR agency, we’ve found that the most well-received content is, by and large, original research.

What does original research look like?

Original research can take many shapes and forms:

types of original research

This is not to say that any type of original research will attract the attention of the media. Research needs to meet the values of newsworthiness.

What is newsworthy?

When thinking about what makes something newsworthy, you have to think about the targeted audience. Newsworthy characterizes any events, stories and occurrences that the audience of a given publication would find noteworthy or of interest.

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, 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 a certain mechanical part would be something they’d cover.

There are eight 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.

8 elements of newsworthiness

Creating original research overcomes many of the hurdles that traditional PR and promotional content encounter. 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” 
  • Currency: Capitalizing on popular economic trends, holidays, human or consumer behavior meets this tenant.
  • 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.

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. After all, they’re experts in “insert name of specific product or service.” Under that assumption, it can be a struggle to create original research that is both highly relevant and highly 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, tangential content can more readily meet the standards for newsworthiness than typical content marketing efforts.

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

A company approached us wanting to improve their website’s visibility. They ultimately hired us to do digital PR and on-page SEO work. This particular client’s focus falls within a niche field of financial consulting; working exclusively with technology companies and their investors to develop and expand their growth strategies. Pretty specific, right? 

If we operated in the realm of traditional PR, we would create content directly related to their services. Examples of highly relevant content for this client could include: 

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

Now, those topics sound like something you’d come across on NBC News or USA Today? Most likely, no. They’re too narrow in their focus. They’re only newsworthy to a very small number of writers.  

If we move into the realm of digital PR, tangential content reigns supreme. We go from a narrow scope of relevant content topics, to a much larger pool of tangentially relevant ideas. In broadening that scope of focus, we subsequently enlarge the size of the potentially interested audience. 

By looking beyond the client’s immediate service of tech industry consulting, we open the door to greater subjects to discuss.

tangential research ideas for financial company

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

The content had earned their business 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 broad appeal and newsworthiness: it had a catchy data point that powered the majority of headlines, it was timely, significant, had a human element and was “new.”

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.

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 their industry, get their name out there 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 their 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.

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Lyndsey Maddox

Director of Business Development
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