Mainstream media attention can bring a slew of good things to a blog: a wider audience, new customers, high-value organic links, and tons of traffic; and can catapult a small business into the public eye. Getting mainstream media attention is one of the fastest way to rise in SEO rankings and while some sites stumble into it through viral content and luck, there are actions that you can take to get your site noticed. As with all marketing campaigns, patience, persistence, and a systematic approach are key.
Help a Reporter Out
HARO is a free service that collects requests for sources from journalists and sends them out as an email newsletter several times a day. One of the best times to contact a journalist for media exposure is when they are already covering your niche and need a source. HARO requests are typically very specific, so it pays to be patient and wait for the right request, instead of blindly pitching as many requests as you can find. To get the most out of HARO, respond to requests quickly (reporters are always on deadline), respond thoughtfully, and be quotable.
Register as an expert
Setting yourself up as an expert using one of the many services out there is a great way to get in touch with reporters who need sources. It doesn’t take much to be an expert, you just have to have knowledge and preferably, a unique viewpoint. Most services like ReporterConnection or PRNewswire are free to sign up. Both also offer email roundups similar to HARO. When working with journalists, you can specify how you want to be cited and get a backlink to your site using anchor text that you request.
Use social bookmarking sites
If your site caters to young internet denizens and you think your content has the possibility of going viral, submitting links to social bookmarking sites like Digg, Reddit, and del.icio.us can be a way to build steam. Users on these sites rate the content they see and the higher rated content can reach the front page of the site, where it may be picked up by mainstream news outlets days and weeks later. Options for interesting “link bait” could be oddball products, contests, topics, etc. The critical components are creativity and deep understanding of what’s hot and interesting in the market.
Start with local media
So far, we’ve talked about leveraging the power of the internet to get your site noticed. However, sometimes starting offline can be a great way to go. Local news outlets are almost always looking for interesting local stories. It can be much easier to get radio time on a local radio channel or a quote in a local paper. Most newspapers, television stations, and magazines have a local journalist or columnist who covers business. By getting a few interviews and quotes in local papers, it’s much easier to move up the food chain and start attracting attention from bigger news outlets. Journalists want to work with people who know how to give interviews and can give good quotes.
While gaining media attention can be a dream for a website owner, it can also bring the realities of low-cost hosting crashing down around you. Make sure that you have a hosting plan that can scale with a flood of new visitors, or risk having your site taken offline when your data limits have been exceeded. Hosting a site on Amazon’s Web Services or Google Apps makes scaling a doddle, without costing too much money upfront. Your existing host may also have contingency plans available to sites that find themselves the beneficiary of tons of new attention.
However you end up trying to attract attention from journalists and mainstream media, it’s important to avoid developing a bad reputation for junky, self-serving pitches. The editor of Wired magazine was so fed up by PR spam, that he created a list of blocked email addresses, from whom he would no longer take pitches. Don’t be that person sending unsolicited, un-targeted pitches to news outlets and reporters – it makes the rest of us look bad.
Guest Bio: Daniela Baker is a social media advocate at the small business credit cards comparison website, CreditDonkey. Do you have any other tips for successfully getting media attention? Share in the comments!