Here’s a shocker: Getting people to notice you isn’t easy (unless you a) show a lot of skin, b) drink too much and act like an idiot, or c) are just really rich).
Getting them to write about you is ever harder.
But for those of us who haven’t worked in PR, the reality of things is it’s actually a lot easier to get press than you may think.
The Unwritten Code Between Journalist and Source
As a writer, I’m a student of
life human behavior. I’m always looking for stories that I think my readers will find interesting/useful.
Journalists are no different. They spend their days pitching their editors on stories that
- they believe the editor will find interesting
- they believe their audience will find interesting
- they’ll get paid for
And how does a journo or writer find these stories?
Answer: anywhere, really. Reading. Chatting with friends. Interviewing people.
See, the thing is that there is a supply and demand interaction going on here.
We (RIAs, fintech entrepreneurs, brokers, financial pros) are the supply of ideas and stories to the writer/journalist’s demand of interesting sources and ideas for their stories.
We are the fuel for their livelihood.
We are the birds that live on their backs, eating ticks and munching on bugs.
We inhabit the same environment, a quasi-symbiosis of scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours.
Getting your firm noticed by noticing the journalists who care
I think the old school model of PR has changed. It used to work like this:
- create something newsworthy
- write a press release and machine gun it out there
- pray someone notices OR pay a PR person to make sure someone notices
I suggest the new model looks something more like:
- identify writers, journalists who write about your field
- create mutually-beneficial relationship based initially on assisting the writer with his work (ideas, facts, contacts)
- writer wants to write about you and your firm
We’re all spinning the hamster wheel in the too-busy trap. If someone reaches out to us and can fix the crazy busy feeling we all feel but shortening our work cycle, well, hey! I want to listen to that person. I can use that help.
This go-giver model is what makes social media so powerful — we can quickly identify people in our circles whose needs we can fulfill. It builds relationships and means we’ll get our chance to shine in the future.
Here’s how I would tackle getting noticed by both large and small media outlets.
6 ways for financial firms to land valuable PR (quickly, easily, and doesn’t cost anything)
- Draw your target map: Build a spreadsheet of people who have written about me, my competitors or my space in general (If I’m running a SRI fund, identify reporters who have covered that space. If you’re a startup, see who’s written about other financial startups). These people — populating the fields of your spreadsheet — are your targets. Include links to their articles and see if you can find contact information (you know, emails, phone #s, Twitter handles).
- Start monitoring/listening: Get in the habit of subscribing to the publications, emails, RSS feeds, anything that these writers are using to publish their words.
- Get to first base: Instead of jumping up and down, waving your arms to get these journalists to notice you, begin by commenting constructively on their articles. Good writers — writers who care about their work — read all that shit. They care what people think and they see their writing as a beginning of a larger conversation that occurs in social media and in the comments on their respective websites.
- Make them an offer they have no reason to refuse: Here’s where you begin to build value. If a writer publishes a piece on new low volatility portfolios and you know someone running a mutual fund that’s launched with a new low vol strategy, offer to make the connection. Mention a trend or a resource that the journalist didn’t might not have relied upon for his or her article. Doing this gently and politely will begin to position you as an expert resource with your target journo. Along the way, you may just get quoted, linked to, mentioned — even if the article has nothing to do with you. That happened to me last week when I reached out to a journalist I noticed (use Help a Reporter Out to see what other journalists are working on) was writing about social media and investing. I didn’t even speak to the author but got mentioned (with a link) in the article nonetheless. The result was that I was mentioned in ReadWriteWeb’s recommendations of the best social investing sites.
- Fill the powder in your keg: With this spreadsheet to guide you and some relationships under your belt, you can reach out if you have something newsworthy and be taken seriously. Reach out individually to a reporter you know that might be interested. Give a short/sweet summary of why he or she may find your announcement interesting by tying it together into the context of previous articles the journo has written or into the general space at large. Give a good quotation (writers love this and you may find articles being written about you — quoting you — without ever talking to a single person).
- Newsjack appropriately: Don’t wait for your new product/service to launch. You can grab headlines by practicing a simple technique of newsjacking. An ebook written by PR guru David Meerman Scott, newsjacking is about riding on wave of someone else’s news. If Apple announces a blowout quarter and you have a view on what happened (preferably something that causes a creative dissonance), write an article/blog that develops your ideas. Send it to those journalists who wrote about Apple, explaining how your view changes the conversation. One insider secret is that breaking news stories on websites are frequently rewritten as more news comes out. Influence – be part of — the news flow by riffing on things journalists are currently analyzing and writing about.
That’s how technology firms do it. That’s how startup firms that don’t have large budgets to spend on PR or marketing do it. That’s how investment advisors end up repeatedly in the news.
What are you doing to get noticed?