How to get press coverage for your business or brand (without being annoying) in 2024

How to get press coverage for your business or brand (without being annoying) in 2024

You want your name in lights. Here's how to get that sweet, sweet media attention.

The conversation about how to pitch the media is a hotly debated topic. In an ideal world, every brand would have all of the media coverage it needs to thrive, but this is 2024 and obviously not an ideal world. Media coverage is competitive, limited, and can feel very difficult to attain for the average brand. This leads to some brands using less-than-ethical or even outright annoying tactics to garner press.

We are going to discuss why media coverage matters, the strategies to obtain it, and which methods you should absolutely avoid unless you want every journalist to hate your guts.

Why is press coverage important?

Everyone wants it— but why?

Promotion - Let's get the obvious out of the way: press coverage promotes your brand. Whether you're trying to get media for a product, a launch, an event, or a sales promotion, eyes on your brand will always be a good thing.

Credibility - A media feature gives your brand a level of authenticity and credibility. In fact, many brands will include their news coverage right on the front page of their website. If you've been featured in the New York Times or Forbes, you will want people to know about it.

Plus, the more coverage you get, the more coverage you get. Meaning, that a feature in a publication means that other publications are more likely to work with you. It sounds weird, but we don't make up the rules.

A study done by the Edelman Trust Group found that consumers trust earned media more than they trust brand media, advertising, influencers, or social media. A business can claim whatever they want, but the media adds a level of authority that you simply can't replicate.

Brand awareness - The only thing worse than having enemies is having nobody even know who you are. You can always win people to your side, but first they have to know you exist, which is arguably a bigger battle. Plus, having enemies is fun and makes you an interesting villian.

Brand awareness is the probability that consumers recognize your brand, products or services. Fast-moving marketers seeking instant gratification often dismiss the importance of recognition, but it's actually a critical piece of getting into a consumer's consideration set.  

When it comes to purchasing decisions, studies show that the brands consumers recognize most are more likely to be included in their consideration sets. In fact,

 75% of shoppers

 said they are more likely to purchase from a company that knows their name and purchase history.

Revecka JalladForbes

Backlinks - Good ol' fashion SEO is just flat-out mandatory in today's PR landscape. A web presence with high search rankings is a no-brainer these days and even if you want to ignore it and focus on other things, your competitors will surely be doing their best to outrank you. Press coverage is a great way to practice some quality digital PR linkbuilding.

 

How to get free media coverage, ranked

Let's look at some of the top ways to get media coverage and discuss their pros and cons as an overall media strategy. And then we will rank them based on overall effectiveness because having an opinion and ranking things is fun.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of media coverage strategies. Technically you could hire a rental blimp and pay them to throw thousands of printed copies of your press release all over the office park of your local newspaper.

 

Blimps cost up to $1,200 USD per day and are tricky to justify to accounting.
Blimps cost up to $1,200 USD per day and are tricky to justify to accounting.

While this is a really solid and fun strategy, it may not be as cost-effective or legal as the following strategies:

The cold approach

To get coverage, you can certainly contact any media outlet or journalist directly and pitch your story. This is a popular method and one that many, many brands and businesses use every day. All you need is an email address and endless audacity.

"Hello! I'm here to misspell your name and get mad if you don't respond!"

Pros:

  • The biggest pro for the cold approach is that it is, essentially, free. It doesn't really cost you anything to send an email. Or a thousand emails.
  • It can be effective. Many, many people have gotten coverage by pinching the right media contact at the right time.
  • Relationships with the media can be built this way, if done correctly.

Cons:

  • Using the cold approach means that you are just, unfortunately, one of hundreds if not thousands of people attempting to solicit media coverage from a journalist on any given week.
  • It's really hard to differentiate yourself when you have no pre-existing relationship with the media contact, that it is not uncommon to be chucked in the junk drawer.
  • it can be very time-consuming. Researching the actual journalist, finding their contact information, drafting a quality pitch email that doesn't get immediately disregarded takes time, and time is money.

Overall ranking score: 6/10. It's often a necessary evil, but not the ideal approach unless you are super targeted and intentional about the media contacts you pitch. Having a stellar, knock-their-socks-off pitch email will determine if this strategy is a good idea or not.

We spoke with two rockstar writers who discussed what they love (and hate) about cold pitches. Watch the whole thing here.

 

Buying media lists

Personal media lists are great. Curated, well-crafted, and personalized lists of journalists you've vetted and (ideally) previously spoken to who are eager to hear your brand's story, what's not to love about that? Purchased media lists, on the other hand, are a whole different ball game. We are famously not fans of bought media lists here at Prezly.

Pros:

  • Easier than creating them yourself.
End of list.

Cons:

  • Bought media lists are often outdated, spammy, and sold to numerous people. They lack the individualized effort of creating your own list, and it is often more than clear to the journalists that you are attempting to shortcut the process and buy their information.
  • Media lists lack a critical component: networking and connection. Failing to interact with the media beyond "hey, give me coverage" is not a good way to start off a working relationship.

Overall ranking score: 1/10. As a communications software, we at Prezly see plenty of bought and organic media lists, and we definitely have a strong opinon about them. If you need more convincing, delve deeper into the world of media list pros and cons.

Or, if you're so inclined, read the Prezly founder Jesse Wynant's thoughts on the subject.

 

Press release distribution services

These are… fine. However, the days of journalists poring over dry corporate press release distribution services is basically over, though, and it's a largely outdated form of press distribution.

Pros:

  • Fairly easy to do.
  • Doesn't take a ton of time to set up.

Cons:

  • The effort is not evergreen, i.e. your content will not be discoverable weeks or even days after they go out.
  • Many services are often flooded with irrelevant "press releases" that aren't actually informative, so your PR can get lost in the weeds.
  • Journalists simply don't have the time to be combing through hundreds of press releases on these services anymore.
  • They can be pricey, even going into the hundreds of dollars for a single press release in addition to the cost of annual membership to the distribution service.

Overall ranking score: 3/10. These may have been useful at one point, but now we have the internet. The ROI for press release distribution software simply isn't there anymore.

👉 Read more on our thoughts about why press release distribution services aren't worth your time and money.


Connectively (formerly HARO, or Help A Reporter Out)

Cision's Connectively service is a fantastic tool for marketers, PR, brands and journalists. So great, in fact, that we wrote a whole guide on it. But for those who don't want to click on another article: Connectively is essentially a service that sends out daily email digests with requests from journalists to industry professionals on a variety of topics related to the pieces they're working on.

We're big fans of Connectively at Prezly, and we've even used it a number of times in our Academy articles, including this one where we surveyed over 200 communications professionals about the biggest media pitch mistakes. Because of the wide range of topics covered by journalists, HARO is a great option for many different industries: business, finance, travel, family, medical, and so much more.

Pros:

  • Connectively lets you connect and build relationships with media contacts who are actively looking for stories and sources related to your brand's niche without the shot-in-the-dark cold approach.
  • Backlinks, as previously discussed, are super important. Media backlinks in particular are great for establishing credibility and authority for your brand's website.

Cons:

  • Connectively is getting more popular, so the competition is increasing. For each post, a journalist may receive a few dozen to a few hundred responses depending on the topic. Pitches have to be really good, and really authoritative, in order to stand out.
  • Unlike when it was HARO, the free version of Connectively has limits, both with the number of pitches you can reply to, and in that it doesn't automatically come with a convenient email digest, meaning you have to log in and trawl through the latest requests like a pedestrian (or shell out for a paid subscription)
  • Many of the Connectively requests are very specific--regional, niche, and highly specialized requests for specific industry leaders. Responding to submissions that don't match your niche are a waste of time for everybody.
  • You're often not pitching your brand--you're pitching a perspective as an industry professional. You may get backlinks and coverage, but it's not the priority of the journalist to feature your brand, unless the HARO is specifically requesting brands, products, etc.
  • As the service becomes more popular, so do the spam and low-effort backlinking opportunities (and don't you get me started on the ChatGPT replies). There are still diamonds in the rough, but you have to weed through them. Plus, many shady marketers have taken to the service to get high-quality backlinks for low-quality effort.

Overall ranking score: 7.5/10. The service is great for its intended purpose, but Connectively is not a complete press coverage strategy.

Top 7 Cision competitors & alternatives (2024)
Top 7 Cision competitors & alternatives (2024)

A no-nonsense guide to help you shop around for the best deal on your PR software.

Google Alerts & social media hashtags

Another great way to stay in the conversation and get some solid media coverage is to set up a Google Alert and relevant Twitter hashtags. The media acts quickly, so being on top of the current conversation and going where the journalists are is a great way to get some reactive media coverage.

Some relevant Twitter hashtags may include:

There are a ton of great, industry-specific hashtags out there that you can easily subscribe to. This is a great way to curate your feed and find media opportunities within your brand's niche.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up.
  • Great for connecting with journalists who actually want pitches (similar to HARO).
  • A foot-in-the-door to building relationships with journalists.
  • It's free!

Cons:

  • Can get time-intensive.

Overall ranking score: 9/10. There's simply no reason to not practice at least some reactive media strategies.

 

Do cool stuff and hope the media notices

Many companies simply do not have to try to get media coverage. The media actively wants to cover them, chases stories regarding their content, and knows that any story they run about the brand will sell.

This isn't really a marketing or PR issue, though, this is a "whole company" issue. If your brand is really changing the game and making huge moves, then this strategy will be easy. The story will essentially sell itself, and your fans will put in the work to amplify your brand for you.

Pros:

  • This is pretty much the best-case scenario for any PR. Not having to chase media coverage because your brand is so interesting is basically a dream.

Cons:

  • This strategy is often reserved for very high-profile brands like your Apples and Microsofts and Starbuckses (Starbucksi? Starbucksen?).
  • It isn't a reliable PR method, per se, and you can't force it beyond just being really amazing at what you do.

Overall ranking score: 3/10. Nice work if you can get it, but the rest of us actually have to put in effort for our coverage.

 

The messy approach (drama and scandal)

Some brands are constantly in the news, but not necessarily for good reasons. WeWork is an example of a company whose frequent scandals kept them in the media, for better or worse. Influencers and celebrities as well are notorious for generating controversy to stay relevant, which ultimately helps to take home pay.

Pros:

  • In today's outrage culture, people are simply looking for reasons to get mad. Negative, sensationalize news gets clicks and engagement far more often than positive news, which means that the media will be more likely to cover it.

Cons:

  • Building a long-term successful brand through negative industry antagonizing and unfavorable media attention isn't always a sustainable choice. People get bored of the drama.
  • Drama often leads to burnt bridges and can come across as unprofessional.

Overall ranking score: 2/10. Bold statements and shaking up your industry are good. Beefing just for media coverage is bad.

 

Build long-lasting and productive relationships with the media

Ideally, everyone in the marketing and communications space would have a couple of go-to media contacts in their arsenal who would be happy to collaborate with them on interesting, relevant stories. These stories would provide valuable insights for the journalist's readership as well as great exposure and coverage for the PR.

Obviously, this is an ideal scenario in a perfect world, and something we should all strive for as we network and grow in our professional lives.

Pro:

  • It's great.
  • Everyone should do it.
  • It's a fantastic way to not just get coverage in the short-term, but over the course of a career.
  • These relationships are organic and built on mutual respect and professionalism.

Cons:

  • It takes a long time.
  • It can be hard to find the balance between "trying to establish a good working relationship" and "being a smarmy, manipulative benefit seeker."
  • These relationships require giving as much as you get and a level of reciprocity to maintain

Overall ranking score: 10/10. This is the ultimate method for getting press long-term.

Conclusion

Whatever method or tactic you use to garner press for your brand, the reality is that there's no shortcut to good, old fashion networking regardless of the type of approach. And while we can't be charming and make industry relationships for you, Prezly is a fantastic tool to do all the other stuff so you can focus on building those relationships.

If you're interested to learn more and impressed with this writer's subtle pitching, why not try a 14-day free trial? 👇

Prezly – software for modern PR teams

  • Write & publish brand stories in an online newsroom

  • Send email campaigns, pitches & newsletters

  • Manage all your contact lists in a single CRM, with easy import & export

  • Measure performance to see who's engaging with your stories

Or, if you'd like to network and be friends, reach out to us on Twitter.

Updated January 2023

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