Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce members run the gamut of size, industry, and revenue. Some are one-person operations grossing a quarter-million annually; others employ thousands of people and earn millions of dollars per week. Many are government contractors, while others have nothing to do with the region’s largest industry.
But all Chamber members share one common goal: To use scarce resources as effectively as possible to drive more sales with greater profits. And that’s exactly what great media coverage can do when combined with a surround-sound marketing and branding strategy. Sometimes, getting in the press drives direct sales. This is common when seeking more tickets for an event or more people eating at a restaurant. Other times, press improves brand positioning through:
- Increasing the number and quality of your website hits.
- Improving your marketing outcomes, such as more newsletter sign-ups and social media followings, and newsletter and social media engagement.
- Putting you in front of valuable potential influencers, investors, and partners.
- Identify a topic of interest to your target markets.
- Determine the spokesperson with the best title.
- Find the right timing to get your message through media gatekeepers and to your target markets.
Here’s how it works.
What topic(s) do your target markets care about?
Editors, producers, reporters, and other media gatekeepers want to put only the best and most interesting material in front of their audiences. Therefore, you must pick topics which are most valuable to your target markets and which improve your long-term brand positioning.
Consider an IT firm which wants to secure more business with the federal government. At the beginning of the pandemic, the CEO may have written about how to quickly make an in-person workforce remote, and for classified contractors how remote work can be done securely. This could be done through government contractor trade publications, technology trade publications, or even general business outlets such as Inc.com.
After value has been determined, you must decide which topics are most on-point to your mission and goals. The IT firm’s CEO must not get distracted by shiny objects – press opportunities which distract from the company’s brand and offerings almost certainly won’t reach your target markets, bring in more leads, or drive more sales.
Who is your best spokesperson?
Gatekeepers often receive hundreds of coverage requests per week, often including multiple pitches for the same topic. You must pick a spokesperson with a title that provides clarity and instant verification for gatekeepers. Titles can range from president or board member, to founder, to customer or association member.
Titles are especially critical when seeking niche media coverage or expanding into new industries or regions. Outlets limited by industry and region won’t necessarily want a new voice because it’ll feel disjointed for readers who prefer the familiar. However, co-authoring an op-ed or jointly producing a press release with a familiar name can give you more credibility; likewise, having a happy customer or vendor discuss your services or products may be your bank-shot opportunity for coverage.
How good is your timing?
Each year, accountants have a few months in which to gain outsized press. The rest of us call this opportunity “tax season.” The worst time for an accountant to seek significant coverage is around Thanksgiving – when people are worrying about travel plans, in-laws, and having enough stuffing and turkey around the table.
Titles provide instant credibility. Topics are your choke point. Timing, however, is the sniper shot which hits the right target at the right moment to convince a gatekeeper that your message is the one they should feature. Timing media coverage to your industry calendar and news cycles provides:
- The opportunity to turn cold meetings into warm handshakes at industry conferences.
- Improved social media and newsletter engagement.
- New opportunities to be in front of desired influencers, customers, and investors.
There are also many one-time opportunities for coverage, such as:
- Company events – opening a new office, a new partnership, a new major client success story, a new product launch, etc.
- Legislative committee hearings.
- Economic booms and busts.
A version of this piece was originally published by the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce.