Done? Once you’ve got your message firmly in place, you are ready to build out your platform—and make some magic with Action #2: Make media work for you.
Here’s the thing about media: it’s a little like dating. If you attach yourself too much to a specific outcome, you will be disappointed.
You want to approach getting more media coverage as the cherry on top of an already luscious sundae. If you NEED it to sell your services right now, this minute, you are spending your time and money in the wrong place. Desperation in media—like in dating—never attracts the right people to your doorstep.
Don’t have the budget to hire a media maven? No worries—all you need is to carve out two to five hours a week to work at it, bit-by-bit. It’s a process, not an event.
Step 1: Define Your Sweet-spot Audience. Before you even think about media, be crystal-clear on your ideal audience. Who are your best buyers? One way to go: create a client avatar. And keep that image firmly in your head as you discover where your ideal clients spend their media time.
Step 2: Explore your options. Where is your best future client or target likely to trip over you? Traditional, big media outlets—think broadcast, digital or print? Or niche players that may never make a big splash nationally/globally but are filled with your demographic and psychographic crowd? Give this process short shrift at your peril: avoid the pure ego-feeds and go for those that truly fuel your progress.
Step 3: Choose Your Top 10 Media Targets. Yep, I said 10. Not 50, not 25, but 10. Because you want to stay focused on the prize: upping your visibility where it matters most. The less time you have available, the smaller your target list should be (note: even if you’ve got the budget to hire yourself some media help, keeping your target list small increases your traction).
Step 4: Build Out Your Media Contact List. You want to get to know the reporters, bloggers and producers who control access to the kingdom you want to enter. Do the legwork required to build your list. Scroll through articles on your Top 10—what bylines consistently appear? Dig into the articles your target writes. Does he/she seem to have a consistent point of view? That tells you how to approach them. Think of these folks as prospective clients you want to court—understand their interests and hot-buttons and make it personal. Best place to reach them if their digital address is elusive? Twitter!
Step 5: Know How Media Folk Think (And Work Best). This is where a little empathy goes a long way. They are on deadline. They have editors to satisfy. The best have many potential sources—you get one fast shot to respond to their request and that’s it. Assume the ONLY thing that matters is their story. Get clear on the angle first and quickly decline if it’s not right for you (but don’t discount the value of being the contrarian interview). If you’re pitching a story, put some bait on the hook. Nobody gives a fig that you just opened your business, but they might care deeply if you link it to breaking news, a hot trend or compelling story.
Step 6: Arrive In Uniform, Ready To Play. Nobody asks an empty suit back for a second shot. Do your homework—over-preparation can be a virtue if it means you’ve created a perspective no one has articulated yet. You need to be 100% on your game. Close your email, shut off the phone and completely concentrate on your interview. If you’re on camera—whatever the platform—comb your hair, put on some make-up and look like you’re happy to be there. Just because you’re on video and not in a television studio does not give you permission to lower your standards.
Step 7: Repeat. Media is not an event, it’s a process. The pros who get the best coverage for themselves build media into their everyday work life. They remain on the lookout for new media partners and outlets. They build relationships. They make courting their media folk an integral part of their work and actually have fun with it.
Fun? Yes, I did say fun. Because let’s face it—if you see courting and working with the media as drudgery, it’s not for you.
So do share your stories here—the good, the bad and the ugly. What’s your best media story?
And stay tuned for Part 3 in this series on building your audience and revenue: building your list.
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