How to make the media your BFF

If your mission is to change the world with your ideas, or to give customers and other stakeholders multiple ways to access your expertise, you need the media as a public platform for your message. In this first of four blog articles about getting your message and ideas distributed to a broad audience, we’ll look at the top three reasons why knowing how to work with the media is not only not optional for advancing one’s business or cause, it’s foundational.

I’ve heard many reasons from clients as to why they can’t do media outreach:

Not enough time.

Costs too much.

What I want to say has already been said and I’m not adding anything new to the conversation.

I don’t know how.

I'm afraid/worried about negative feedback.

If any of these are your reasons, or you have others, I encourage you to let go of that line of thinking for a few minutes—at least until you’ve finished reading this.


Why you should love the media

If you want your ideas to spread and change how people think, make the media your BFFs. Here are the top three reasons why.

1. Editors and reporters are the primary influencers for spreading our ideas to the broadest possible audience or that audience we want to reach, even if that audience is very narrow.

2. You get 3rd party endorsement when you’re quoted or written up, which still carries tremendous cachet and credibility

3. Editors are the gatekeepers to the influential blogs that at some point you’ll want to have a presence on.

Let’s turn this “love” into a strategy: to accelerate your being known as a leading authority or thought leader and to get your ideas heard outside your immediate sphere of influence—go beyond the people and stakeholders you know and who know you.

Specifically, do what you can to get your name consistently in traditional and online media.

Traditional media still refers to print publications and TV/radio. Print includes local and national newspapers, and the primary professional or trade publications that your target market reads. Just about all publications these days host websites, meaning your exposure quotient is multiplied.

The top traditional print media strategy to aim for is a regular column. As an example, my client, Loraine Huchler P.E., CMC, founder of MarTech Systems, Inc., is a chemical engineer who advises Fortune 100 companies on risk management and best practices for water used in manufacturing.

Since 1999, she’s had a quarterly column in her industry’s leading publication, HydroCarbon Processing, and is also a senior contributing editor to the publication. With this dual relationship she’s developed and nurtured with the publication’s editors, she’s maximized her visibility to her marketplace.

The regular exposure has helped her build a large dedicated following, with readers becoming long-term clients. And while getting clients is key, the true value of a column is the opportunity the platform offers to write-up your ideas over time, with your name attached to them, exposing and making them accessible to the broadest audience.

An effective online visibility strategy is to secure a guest blogging or “contributor” opportunity. National dailies such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, for example, often offer blogging slots for a few people with outstanding ideas and excellent writing skills. Monthly name-brand business-focused magazines such as Fortune, Fast Company and Forbes use guest bloggers.

Be sure to explore blogging opportunities on influential sites in your area of expertise. Technorati is an excellent source for finding prominent blogs (be sure to check out the Top 100—if anything, it’s a barometer for what large numbers of people find interesting).

Another traditional media strategy: submit opinion pieces on a regular basis to local and national print news media. Opinion pieces are also nicknamed “op-eds,” in that these are opinion pieces that in print publications were always on the page opposite the publication’s editorials.

Writing opinion pieces on an issue you feel strongly about that’s in the news or trending gets your ideas in front of a large readership. For published examples, look at some of my opinion pieces in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, and La Prensa (twice). Check submission guidelines, such as these at USA Today and Washington Post, and follow them religiously.

When you’re ready, put being on TV/cable and radio as a guest expert, commentator or analyst in your action plan. I’ll cover these media in a future post.

Take the time to get to know a few editors of publications where you want your ideas to appear. Don’t be disappointed if you’re not published on the first try, or the second or even third. This is about developing relationships, so start by being a useful resource, and don’t expect anything in return.

Be patient, and persistent, and you’ll soon find you have a roster of editors and journalists you call your new BFFs.

Roberta Guise works with experts, small business owners and professionals who want to be extraordinarily visible and sharpen their marketing edge. She also enables successful women to become thought leaders in their field of expertise. A small business marketing consultant and speaker, she is the founder of San Francisco-based Guise Marketing & PR. If you'd like to know how to apply these concepts to your situation, call for a free 1/2 hour consultation. 415-979-0611.