Ditch the press release: Five fresh ways to get journalists to notice you
You've been creating high-quality work for a while now, and you've nailed your website and social media accounts, plus you're signed up to Behance, Cargo Collective and Etsy.
You're ranking reasonably well in the search engines, and you're attracting a steady stream of enquiries. However, you still feel like you're missing something to provide an extra layer of credibility to your brand – that's where media coverage comes in.
Although you know you're doing a great job, how will anyone else if you're not shouting about your work? Securing press coverage is vital in ensuring a fully-rounded marketing strategy. Still, as a freelancer or small business, it can be challenging to raise funds required to hire a PR agency.
To provide a helping hand, we're offering some handy advice to help you forego hiring outside help, and ditching the dreaded press release altogether to find fresh ways to get journalists to notice you:
1. Become a useful asset to journalists seeking stories
Journalists receive hundreds of emails every day, from PR professionals, brands and freelancers hoping to secure column inches, so how can you expect to cut through the noise and make yourself heard? Give journalists what they want when they want it.
Contact a list of your target publications and ask for a features list, detailing the themes the publication will be working around each month.
Better still, sign up to a service such as ResponseSource, Gorkana or Sourcebottle to receive mailbox alerts directly from journalists seeking stories in your chosen field. Prices start from relatively cheap, and many of these services offer a free trial. Just remember to read each journalist's requirements carefully before responding, and make sure you have what they're looking for.
2. Keep an eye on news relating to your field and piggyback
Spotted a story that's related to what you do? Get in touch! There's nothing wrong with contacting a specific journalist that's covered a story on your area of expertise to offer your comment.
If they're not interested, don't be offended, timing is everything when it comes to the media, so if you've missed the boat this time, there's nothing to say you won't be contacted in regards to a similar topic further down the line. Be polite and thank the journalist for their time, asking them to keep your details on record should another opportunity arise.
3. Use social media as a search tool
If you follow many journalists or PR people on Twitter, you'll most likely have spotted their #journorequest or #prrequest hashtags. Searching via #journorequest is an excellent way to quickly detect whether any journalists are looking for news in your area.
It might be that they're seeking a product to review, an interview with an expert or are conducting some research for a story. It's an effective and quick way to engage with the media community, proving you're a useful source of knowledge for them to tap into. In return, it's perfectly reasonable to request a mention (and in some cases, website link) in their piece.
4. Be active on social media and share your best work
It's become a well-known fact that journalists use social media to help fuel their stories, with news often breaking on Twitter before anywhere else. By keeping your own social media accounts up-to-date and consistently filled with engaging content alongside the best of your work, you've got a free platform from which to blow your own trumpet.
If you've got a blog on your website, why not share opinion pieces, tweeted out with hashtags that are relevant to your industry? LinkedIn is another platform that's frequently used by journalists on the hunt for a story, so make sure you've got an active presence there.
5. Send your creations out IRL
Everyone likes receiving post, or 'snail mail' – even journalists. Although many of the top publications are inundated, both on email and via their postbox, bloggers and niche magazines usually are happy to receive samples of work. If you're a designer or artist, why not send out a beautifully presented creation to a list of your five favourite outlets?
This is a great way to secure social media posts from magazines and provides an example of your skills in action. Just remember to include some information about yourself, with a link to your website and social accounts.