Biz Ladies: The 5 Key Habits of Media Magnets

Today’s Biz Ladies post comes previous contributor Brigitte Lyons. Brigitte is a PR & media strategist for micro businesses and the creator of Your Media Map — a DIY publicity program.  She previously taught us the power of the “I Don’t” list and today she shares the top 5 habits of media magnets. Thank you, Brigitte, for such a helpful post! —Stephanie

Read the full post after the jump…

You’ve seen her product in all your favorite magazines. And, while the most mature, evolved parts of you are happy for her, you can’t help but ask, “Why isn’t that me?”

Is she getting all that publicity, because her product is better than yours? Is her website better optimized? Did her college roommate go on to become a magazine editor?
What do you need to do to become a media magnet?

While branding, design and packaging can make your product more attractive to the press, a savvy biz lady knows it’s all about cultivate the habits that make you irresistible to the media.

1. Network with reporters and editors.
Most people think media coverage is bestowed on a lucky few. But media magnets take matters into their own hands and cultivate relationships with the magazines, newspapers and programs most relevant to their brand.

Networking with the media is easier than ever. With a free account at Muckrack.com, you can find theTwitter handles of journalists at top news sites and magazines, such as TODAY, Better Homes & Gardens or The New York Times. From there, it’s easy to create your own media list complete with social profiles on the networks you use most. Many journalists are also active on Pinterest and Instagram, giving you a variety of ways to connect with the people whose job is covering your product or industry.

In less than an hour, you can build a private Twitter list of media contacts and start building a relationship that will lead to features in your favorite publications.

2. Think like a source.
When you first decided to go after media coverage, you probably focused on the key selling points for own product or service, asking, “What makes my product stand out? What’s unique about it?”

This brand-centric approach is common, but there are two major problems with it. First, you’re inevitably going to run into worthiness issues. You can get stuck in a loop asking yourself, “Is this good enough? Is it unique enough?” Before you know it, you’re doubting whether your product even deserves to be featured by the media.

The second issue is even more problematic. When you’re focused completely on your product, you’re ignoring your greatest asset. Your customer.

You share a common customer with the media. The person buying your product or hiring you is the same person the media is trying to reach with good content.

Taking a customer-focused approach to media outreach is the essence of thinking like a source. You are more than just another business owner or maker, you’re an expert on the customer that you share with the media. Being a source is identifying how you can collaborate with a journalist to provide informative or entertaining content to this common customer.

3. Submit, submit, submit!
Media magnets don’t wait by the phone — and neither should you! To get the coverage you crave, you’ve gotta go for it!

Once you’ve identified the content that your customer is looking for — whether it’s the perfect accessory to go with her LBD or tips on how to get started with an email marketing system — it’s time to send an email to that reporter you’ve been chatting with on Twitter. Because you’re thinking like a source, your pitch is guaranteed to be better than 99% of the submissions she gets from other businesses.

Even when you do everything right, you might not get a response.  The real difference between a media magnet and a media wannabe is knowing that silence isn’t rejection. Just give it a few months and try again.

4. Be ready for the yes.
Given how coveted the media is, it’s shocking how often journalists report that their sources don’t get back to them. Don’t be the person that lets your new editor friend down. When she contacts you with a request — whether for an interview, a high-res image or a sample — respond immediately.

In your reply, acknowledge the request, ask for her deadline and for a sketch of  the story she’s working on. This gives you the opportunity to brainstorm additional materials you can provide or prepare for an interview, all while ensuring you’re working within the stated deadline.

5. Always give the media something they can quote.
I happen to be a rambler, so I know how challenging talking — or writing — in sound bites can be. Luckily, Twitter is forcing all of us to practice! When you conduct an interview, or even send information in an email, make sure you’re peppering your message with short, snappy sentences.

If you’re not naturally gifted at crafting sound bites (lord knows I’m not), you can practice by creating your own Brand Book. To get started, pull copies of magazines that resonate with your brand, and copy down the headlines that catch your eye. Practice creating your own headlines and quotes using the phrases you’ve taken down. This is actually how I developed the topic for this BizLadies post! Try it — it’s fun!

By now, I hope it’s become clear that media magnets don’t just wait around for their big break. They create it through deliberate, habitual action. And so can you!

  1. Very timely post for me, I’m working on getting more media coverage as we speak!

  2. Cheers Brigitte. The mystery is solved or at least a little clearer. I have been clueless regarding media. Now I have some actionable steps for my to do list for this week! Along with designing of course.

  3. Ryden Rizzo says:

    Very helpful, thank you!

  4. Candi says:

    Very informative and right on time ….thank you Brigitte.

  5. great post. i like the way you changed the focus to the customer/ consumer. very smart. Thanks!

  6. Are you sure you don’t mean ‘Media magnates’…?

  7. Smart post! I agree with #2 – helping the media find the best content for their audience is a much better approach than just trying to shove yourself in the door!

  8. Julia says:

    Kelly is correct – it should be “magnates,” not “magnets.”

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      julia

      that’s what i thought, but i emailed to ask and make sure. i think there may be a play on words here, but i’m waiting to hear ;)

      grace

  9. Tanya says:

    Just curious if you know of anyone who has used their website? The prices are a bit high that is why I was asking.

    Thanks

  10. Maia says:

    These are great tips :) and timely! I’m really looking to be more proactive in attracting media.

  11. Tip says:

    Hehe. Media magnet makes total sense to me (as in, we want to attract the media). Love this post – am working on this right now and thinking like a source as well as the other tips is superb advice! Thank you. We can do it! :-)

  12. Leah Quinn says:

    amazing insightful tips a d tricks of the trade! Thank you for sharing!

  13. Terry says:

    Thank you for the resourceful and concise post. So very helpful!

  14. Char says:

    Thanks for all the great tips!

  15. Naomi says:

    It’s obviously meant to be magnets. A media magnate is someone powerful who is OF the media – like Rupert Murdoch – not someone trying to attract it.

  16. Kathryn says:

    Hi—reporter/editor here. I work for a regional media outlet that covers arts, food/drink, culture, music, shopping—in other words, I work with PR firms a lot. I would add one thing to this, probably fitting in with point No. 2. In addition to understanding your customer, it is also so important that you show the reporter that you know THEIR customer: the audience. Nine times out of ten, if I don’t bite, it’s because I was pitched something that a) wasn’t local or relevant to my audience, or b) did not fit our brand/voice. Doesn’t matter how cool your product/event/person is if it doesn’t fit our readers. I guarantee you’ll get good responses if you show that you know your media outlets and their audiences.

  17. Holly says:

    SO helpful! Thank you—never heard of Muckrack.com–excellent tip!

  18. Brigitte says:

    Tip’s got it right — It’s a little play on the idea that some people get lucky and attract media. That’s only half the story, by cultivating the right actions, you get the ball rolling, and the media pours in. I suppose, at that time, you’re a magnate. :-)

  19. Brigitte says:

    Tanya – Do you mean Muckrack? You can use browse for free once you set up an account. I’ve tested their paid service, and I don’t recommend it. You don’t get much above-and-beyond the basic functionality when you pay.

  20. D says:

    Love love love your Biz Ladies series! Just one of the many reasons to love Design*Sponge.

  21. Great advice…. Anything to make life easier for the busy media/bloggers is a winner. Plan ahead, as if it were your own editorial calendar… if you can put forward an idea that suits the readership and time of year/topic of interest etc AND is relevant for your brand, you’re onto a winner!!

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