TLDR: download the template to plan out your media outreach for this quarter!
The beginning of a new year is the best time for reviewing your successes of the last year and creating new plans for the upcoming year. This is true of business in general, and absolutely applies to your business visibility strategy too! Take the time now to review your current PR plan, if you have one, and to thoughtfully update it– or build one out for the upcoming year if you haven’t had one before. This way you’ll have a plan and simple steps to follow for each month of this year even once you get busy with all the other things life and business throws at you. Create a strong plan, and set your business up for success by getting yourself out there as much as possible in 2020. Think it sounds great in theory, but not sure how to do it? Here are some tips and ideas for setting up a media strategy that works for you:
#1: Set some goals and an intention. What do you want to be known for this year? What are your main offerings, events, or general topics you want to get out there? Build your plan around these things, so that everything works with each other and builds toward promoting the things you want to be known for this year. Pick only a few– too many and your messaging will feel convoluted and confusing.
#2: Look into outside opportunities, those things that you won’t be planning or able to control, but may be useful to work around or just keep in mind while you build this plan. There may be larger events in your city, awards programs, conferences, or other opportunities that you may want to tap into, participate in, or just be aware of when it comes to your brand visibility. It may be a major event that is happening in your city on the same day you were planning to launch, which could put a wrench in your plans, so you reschedule to avoid that timeframe. Or, you may want to plan some of your offerings or outreach around some of these if they are beneficial opportunities for cross-promotion or extra awareness around an issue. Either way, make a note of them in the calendar.
#3: Choose 1-2 goals each quarter that you want to focus on from your initial list. These can be specific services/offerings/brand aspects that you want to promote. This doesn’t mean you can’t pitch anything else, but these will be your main focus. For example, it could be something as concrete as a specific launch that you want to get out there when a new product comes out, or it could be that you want to be known for being a philanthropic business leader who cares about community. For a product launch you want to get product-specific articles and roundups, for something that is more about building your general brand and reputation as a philanthropic person, you’ll have to find opportunities to get involved in the community and to pitch stories that highlight how you’re giving back.
#4 Pinpoint target publications and writers/producers for each quarter. This can include newspapers, magazines, websites, television or radio shows, and podcasts. Depending on your business and goals, it can even include events with cross-promotional aspects, speaking opportunities, and more. Any of these things will get you in front of new people who have never heard of you before, and raise your visibility. Start with picking 2 or 3 per month to target (unless you really do have a product launch, and then you’ll be pitching as many as you can for the month of the launch), but of course you can be as ambitious here as you want. Make a list of your targets, and which month you’re going to focus on each one. This should be based on the goals that you outlined in #3. Pick the outlet and the writer (or ‘gatekeeper’ if it’s not a written publication, could be a producer, host, etc I just tend to use the term ‘writer’) that you think will be most applicable for covering whatever you’re planning to be promoting that quarter/month. If your goal for the first quarter is the feel-good philanthropic business leader branding, find writers who write about your community or ones who do profile spotlights on female business owners for that quarter. Next quarter when you want to focus more on how your business is changing the game in your product category, find writers who write about new technology/innovation/whatever your category is.
#5 For at least the month before planned outreach for each writer, you will want to follow them as closely as possible so that you are totally familiar with what they’ve been writing about and working on. Jot down ideas of things you can mention in your pitch to them, or things to keep in mind during this time, so that when you go to pitch them you already feel like you know them and your communication with them will come out more authentic.
#6 Tweak as needed. Review the plan every quarter, and see what’s working and what’s not. Maybe you’re getting great traction with general profiles on yourself as a business owner because you have a unique personal backstory that writers are loving. Continue pitching that for the next quarter (or add more pitches along those lines to whatever else you were planning to push). Your focus doesn’t need to change each quarter– you can focus on the same one or two angles all year, and in fact I often recommend that. Maybe you’re finding that when you get TV segments your sales are going through the roof, but when you get newspaper coverage you hardly see a blip and you’d rather focus your time on more TV pitches right now since your time is precious and you want the most return on the time spent, even though the SEO from newspaper article links are still a great outcome. Maybe you realize that when you include a specific bullet point about your brand in a pitch email you tend to get a reply from the writer and interest in that point specifically. Now you know to seek out more publications/opportunities where that point, whatever it may be, will be relevant because it’s something writers are particularly interested in. Make notes like these, and tweak your plan for going forward as needed. This will allow you to spend your time and effort in the places that make the most sense for you and your business goals, rather than blindly pitching a bunch of things that may have fewer results.
This is a broad overview of how to put together a plan of attack for media outreach and wider visibility this year. It’s fine for it to stay fairly fluid and to change over time, but like with anything, having a plan in place will allow you to have a sense of what to expect, and to get prepared for everything beforehand. This way you are consistently expanding your visibility in an organized and well-thought out way, getting in front of new people in ways that make sense for what you want them to be taking away, and hopefully turning them into followers who will fall in love with your brand.