Here is a thing about the modern world of media where thousands of channels streaming, writing, uploading, and releasing never-ending streams of content: There is always space for more. More new ideas. More takes on old ideas. More names, more concepts, more experts.
However, in my experience, many business owners tend to believe that their brand is too small, too fresh, or in some way or other unfit to earn media presence. Seth Godin had us all believe that the only way to cut through the clutter is to build a product that would be so innovative, it would instantly stand out, like a purple cow.
The good news is that in the modern media world, there is no such thing as brands that are unfit for coverage. There are, however, brands and leaders who don’t yet know how to sell their expertise. If that’s the case, I’ve got you. At my PR agency, I’ve placed both: international celebrities who were already regular TV personas while I was still in kindergarten, and new names who self-published their first book.
Here are three scenarios that any thought leader or personal brand can use to successfully pitch media. I collected the ideas and examples to give you a better idea of how it’s done.
1. Naming trends
Surely, each one of us has once panicked about something and rushed to schedule a doctor’s appointment. You notice something different about your body, freak out, find about 100 possible explanations online (the majority of which are life-threatening), and rush to the doctor. Finally, your local MD explains that you are experiencing a mild form of seasonal allergies or the flu. Now that you’ve had a specialist put a name to your symptoms, they don’t seem so severe anymore. You feel more relaxed.
When a professional gives a name to something that is happening to us, we don’t want to miss a word. When a big group is going through similar experiences, there is a great need for pulling it out of the group’s subconscious into public awareness by naming it. This can be done in many areas of expertise: from relationships, business coaching, and social psychology to microeconomics, environmental and political sciences.
In my PR agency, we utilized the “naming trends” to the maximum. For example, after the first round of pandemic-related lockdowns in 2020, there were several new phenomena in romantic relationships emerging. From lovers who were forced to split, finding themselves locked in different cities and countries, to couples who were rushed into commitment by spending the lockdown together. Together with our relationships expert we ran deep research on all forms of post-lockdown relationships and came up with five new phenomena. A quick pitch to relationship writers landed us coverage in Thrive Global, Bustle, Mind Body Green, and Goalcast.
Pro tip: Try to find as much supporting evidence as possible. New studies often do the job of pointing out trends and new phenomena. Reference those studies and add your expertise and you can get creative by giving a name to an event happening in real time.
2. Hijacking events
Big media events that involve celebrities, household names, and international movie releases are guaranteed to get news coverage. What does it have to do with you, you ask? Everything, if you hear about news early and jump in to provide your professional expertise to writers who are likely to be covering it. Publicists call this technique news hijacking.
As I’m typing these words, the world is buzzing about the recent interview that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry gave to Oprah Winfrey. This interview is guaranteed to be on everyone’s mind for the next few days. Writers and editors will be looking for new angles to cover it because celebrity names are guaranteed to generate clicks. In a situation like this, my team and I would look for some most prominent topics that were covered in the interview, such as bullying, privacy, mental health. We would then ask one of our experts to write a comment about, for example, the mental health of public figures in the light of this interview. And pitch it to the writers who we know would be covering it.
Pro tip: If you want to hijack the news, speed is your best friend. Big stories come as fast as they go. Have a list of writers or publications you check regularly and be ready to hit them with the comment as soon as you can see a big story surfacing.
3. Curating content
In a world where information is overflowing, structuring and curating the information is almost as valuable as producing new knowledge and insights. As an expert, you are best positioned to stay on top of new trends, all different players in your field, and emerging studies.
You can save journalists hours and hours of research by offering them an overview of trends, discoveries, or even different leaders in your field. It requires objectivity, honest and inclusive writing. If you don’t like George from the competing shop, but George is honestly doing a great job, it would not be fair to edit him out. Plus, journalists editors tend to have a nose for information or “takes” that seem biased or overly self-promotional. But if you are ready for this kind of honesty and inclusivity, start pitching!
A space of personal transformation is competitive, and in this case, it’s a good thing! For example, my agency represents an online school of breathwork. Breathwork is a kind of trend that developed rapidly and went from something never heard of by the general public to a mainstream trend, according to Harper’s Bazaar. Naturally, news schools and experts are popping out every so often. We decided to use this fact and offered a content curation piece to Yoga Magazine. Our expert got a column and did an honest review of all the different styles of breathwork that are available on the market. Hopefully, you can see how it’s a triple win: The audience gets curated content, the magazine gets to provide well-rounded objective information to their readers, and the expert gets exposure to a huge audience.