Outpace your competitors

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Outpace your competitors

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com   

Making sure your company’s PR efforts support the business’ goals is a constant grind. I wrote about this a couple of years ago, but the insights are even more important today. Not only are there various responsibilities to juggle, but many marketing VPs are responsible for making sure their PR firm is driving constant coverage in news and trend stories. Marketing executives face pressure to see their company covered in the right press stories, while others need to map their PR efforts to business outcomes.  

Separately, the media is under constant pressure to keep tabs on the rapidly changing technology landscape from the economics of 5G, to the state of broadband in the U.S. and beyond. Who’s behind the latest cybersecurity attack? How will the new administration impact the economy and specifically the tech industry?

PR professionals outnumber reporters significantly. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2018, there are six PR pros for every reporter (Source: Muck Rack ). That number jumped from five PR professionals per journalist from the prior year while 15 years ago, there were just two PR pros per journalist. This is a significant change as companies seek to bypass a shrinking media industry and tell their own stories. We are only seeing the media landscape shrink further as buyout options are offered to help media outlets drive a profit. 

Certain media tactics can help you garner more press coverage and increase your visibility compared to your competitors. First, be clear about what your message is, who your audience is and what will compel them to respond. Understand and clearly articulate your buyers’ pain points and how your offering solves them. 

Engage with the right outlets and reporters 

It’s critical to know who within your target customer base will be the easiest to influence and also has purchasing power. How does this group get information through social media, blogs, trade outlets or search? What pain points will buyers have if they don’t change how they do business? Once you’ve narrowed this down through an online search, reviewed media kits or background information about the different publications or blogs to confirm if you’ve identified the right outlets. You should also pinpoint which publications mention your competitors and target them in your media outreach. 

 Most media outlets encourage reader participation and look for meaningful feedback. While reporting the news is still core, reader engagement, social shares and engagements are important. Media outlets have moved to a community model, encouraging reader comments and engagement on their sites. In these social venues, don’t promote yourself. Instead, provide insights you have gained from your experience. This strategy not only builds credibility with reporters but also positions you as a resource for future stories and helps you gain attention when you want them to cover product news. 

Connect to bigger trends 

Connecting to bigger trends requires that you regularly monitor the news for stories that are relevant to you or topics about which you have an interesting point of view. Companies successful at generating more coverage and gaining share of voice dedicate multiple resources to trend tracking and pitching. 

 Such monitoring helps you find places where you can insert your opinion — not a product pitch — and better position yourself for inclusion in broader trend stories. Be clear ahead of time about which trends are relevant for you and your buyers and develop pitch points so you can respond quickly. Don’t be afraid to take a stand or a contrarian point of view. The more interesting your perspective is, the better the chance you’ll be quoted. But use common sense. Don’t ever take advantage of tragedies to promote your product. 

Data is a bonus 

Reporters often look for unique data that may support or counter a premise about an industry event. Whenever possible, provide supporting market research and infographics as part of campaigns and press releases. You may even find it worthwhile to conduct your own survey on a topic relevant to your market, publish the results in a paper and announce them in a press release. Proof points can be a great way to gain attention, as the media love numbers and percentages that can validate ongoing trends and market opportunities. 

Respect the reporter relationship 

Many companies make the mistake of treating the media as a one-way conduit for telling their stories and do not respond when a reporter asks for a perspective or quote on another story. The more you can help a reporter in his or her quest to write a story, the better the long-term relationship. Some reporters, particularly in the business press, will offer to keep information on “background,” meaning what you say will not be attributed to you. While you won’t get quoted, you’re helping the reporter out and potentially making them more likely to respond to an email request or phone call in the future. 

No one tactic will help you beat your competition when it comes to press coverage. It takes a mix of them to keep your business top of mind, even in the absence of news. Remember, the more helpful and reliable you are as a source, the greater your chances are of developing strong relationships with reporters and of receiving greater coverage in the media that matters to you most.