There are many different ways to get your company, your products, services and technologies spotlighted and featured in the top publications and web sites that cover your industry. You can buy your way in through newsletter and supplement sponsorships, you can purchase advertising and advertorials.
Another powerful way is through what is often labeled “earned media” – coverage that your information has earned because of its value.
This includes coverage generated by big news – large business decisions, radical new products and technologies that can change the world. However, for most tech companies, most of our news and announcements are not quite that earthshaking.
So how do you get the media to cover your company? Especially what do you do when you don’t have BIG news?
I have been doing PR and media relations for over 20 years – for companies large and small – from large multinationals to small one and two-person companies and start-ups. During that time, I have successfully generated tens of thousands of press pick-ups, most for companies that do not have BIG news.
The Three Big Rules for Contributed Editorial Content
The articles have to be relevant, interesting and accurate. They don’t necessarily have to be “news” but they do need to be informative and provide value to the readers of the publications. In addition, these articles cannot be overly commercial.
They cannot be an advertisement or a thinly re-written product announcement or press release. Yes, the publications recognize that you are doing this to promote your company, your products or services, but you need to be smart enough to know how to walk the narrow line between informative and commercial.
“The article needs to be interesting, accurate, and relevant to the publication you are pitching,” emphasizes Rich Quinnell, editor in chief at Electronic Products Magazine.
know how to walk the narrow line between informative and commercial
“This requires understanding its areas of coverage as well as the needs/interests of its audience. In addition, it is worth noting that to maximize relevance it is better to pitch an idea and work with the editor to refine it for the specific publication than it is to write an entire article and then try to find a home for it.”
Creating a successful piece of contributed content is often a dance between the editors at the magazine and the writer who creates it.
The information also has to be accurate, not just words strung together to fill up space. If you are creating technical content of any kind, it’s highly advisable to get someone familiar with the field.
According to Lee Goldberg, a well-known tech industry writer and editor, and currently editing both Medical Technology Design and Product Development & Design magazines, “This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many companies fail to do this – often with disastrous results. Even if the writer is knowledgeable, make sure they have access to a SME, unless they are a SME themselves.”
Get it done on time. Failing to deliver a promised article – especially at the agreed upon due date – is a kiss of death with many publications and their editors. If you fail once, they “might” forgive you and give you and your organization a second chance. If you fail twice, you might get black balled forever.
In our industry, most of the successful editors stay around for a long time. Yes, they may go from one publication to another, but they always remember someone who made a promise and then broke it.
Make sure your pitches to the editors are on target. In other words, don’t waste their time pitching them an article about next generation cars if they only cover cellular phone technology. According to editor Goldberg, “At least 90% (probably closer to 95%) of the inquiries and news releases I receive are completely irrelevant to my editorial focus, it’s no wonder that the “delete” key has become my most frequently used editorial tool.
At least half of the news and content I publish comes from the handful of professionals who I can trust to pitch me things that are newsworthy, relevant, and useful to my readers.”
properly leveraged, that is a powerful sales and marketing force
There are other things that irritate editors as well – According to Alix Paultre, Power and European editor for AspenCore (EE Times, EDN, Embedded.com):
“What bugs me the most is incomplete contact information. I still get press releases that don’t contain the company’s website. I mean, is it insulting people’s intelligence to ask who the hell sends out a release today without a URL? Your client isn’t that famous, I don’t know their website off the top of my head. If I have to look up the company’s website, I am not going to post the release unless it’s announcement you proved cold fusion.”
A powerful tool
Creating and submitting contributed articles, blogs, Q&A’s, etc., has been proven to be an effective way to spotlight yourself, your company and its products and services.
Having a third-party company, an industry leading publication, publish your articles demonstrates to your customers that you have a valued product – that this respected industry magazine believes in what you say and in what your products and technologies can do.
Properly leveraged, that is a powerful sales and marketing force.
And if your contributed articles are good, the publication may help you promote it by featuring it on their home page, by spotlighting it in their daily or weekly newsletters, or by creating a special editorial summary that says look how wonderful the information is and then linking directly to the article.
Or, if the info is really outstanding, they may write their own editorial or do their own interview with you or your company’s execs, citing you and your company as the industry experts, and then linking to the article and your website.
That is an earned media homerun.