Over the past several years, the media landscape has changed significantly. Gone are the days when a company could send a press release and a story would be written about its new product. Today’s reality is: shrinking newsrooms, increasing demands for clicks, and aggressive expectations for the number of stories a reporter churns out in a day are high. At the same time, a growing number of companies are offering similar solutions and services, all expecting coverage. (Read: In a World of Online News, Burnout Starts Younger in the New York Times.)
What this means is that to stay relevant - and secure earned media coverage – companies need to think and position themselves differently. Below are five things to consider as you seek to build a reputation, generate awareness, and connect with your audience(s) through media.
1. Have a point of view
This is listed first for a reason: It is by far the most important component within your media strategy. Think about any article you read. The reporter writes the news story – for example, an industry acquisition – and then includes quotes from other experts in the industry about why the move is important, what it means for the industry and market, and what the future holds. If you are a player in that industry, you want to be one of the experts the reporter includes with a point of view about the news.
Every organization that wants to be positioned as a thought leader needs a point of view about activities happening across the industry. So, think about what’s happening right now in your segment of healthcare — that affect the future, your customers, the cost of business, etc. — and determine your perspective.
For further reading about becoming a thought leader, check out 5 Essential Thought Leadership Skills For Content Marketing Success, on Marketing Land.
2. Know what reporters want
It would be great to be able to read people’s minds, right? While we are still waiting on that technology, there is a great way to figure out what reporters are looking for: read their stories. By reading — really reading — a reporter’s stories, you are able to identify what parts of the story or news she really cares about, what she includes in every piece (e.g., does she always include external research), if she writes breaking news or in-depth analysis after the news breaks, and what types of insight she includes from resources and experts.
Remember: Reporters are individuals just like the rest of us. They don’t like spam any more than we do, so it’s important to treat them like the individuals they are.
3. Be quick, nimble and flexible
The news moves quickly. If a reporter emails you for your perspective on a story, assume he has emailed someone else — and the person with the quickest (and most interesting) response wins. It is rare that you will have days or even hours to prepare or respond to a reporter’s request, so you must act fast. When industry news happens, reporters want expert opinions and perspectives within 24 hours, not days. So, if you’re looking to up your thought leadership game, it’s important to ensure internal processes are up to the challenge.
4. Recognize a good story comes above a good relationship
As with everything in life, relationships (with reporters) matter. However, they don’t outweigh a good story, nor do they make up for a bad one. So, while a relationship with a reporter may help to get an email open, it will not guarantee an article is written. Reporters write stories they — and more importantly their audiences — are interested in. By consistently offering reporters stories and ideas they would be interested in writing, you will build the relationship. It doesn’t happen the other way around.
5. Know your audience
The issues that matter to your audience, i.e., a reporter’s readers, drive the news cycle. Therefore, it’s critical that you pay attention to those things and offer insights, perspectives, and opinions of interest to them. If there is a new healthcare regulation, for example, your audience is likely interested in how it is going to impact them and their business. New technologies that will impact a segment of your customers will be covered by reporters looking to help their readers make sense of it.
Your audience ultimately drives what you say and how you say it. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you know what matters and is of most interest to them (not you).
While it can seem overwhelming to keep up with all the changes, there are some things that will never change. Reporters will always be looking for stories that speak to their audience(s), the news cycle will continue to be fast, and authentic opinions — not sterile talking points — will always be more interesting.