In 2020, much of the media landscape is made up of new media. What once felt new and exciting has been so heavily integrated into our lives and how we consume information that it’s hard to tell the difference between an underground podcast and the product of a national news outlet.
With people turning to Twitter for news updates and trusting brand advocates over established journalists, PR professionals need to get with the program and find a way to make connections with these new media stars.
While it’s hard to deny publicity on major outlets isn’t important, you can build a uniquely engaged user base and appeal to a different kind of consumer by getting featured in new media. Here are four tips to get you started building in-roads with new media contacts.
Use social media to build relationships
As a PR professional, it should come as no surprise that social media is perhaps the best way to make connections with journalists and people of note in the media. However, you may not be using these ever-popular platforms to their full potential.
Don’t just look at social as an alternative to picking up the phone or firing off an email. Yes, dropping into someone’s DMs with a brilliant pitch is a great way to get noticed, but new media types prefer there to be some level of relationship in place beforehand. Social is the best possible platform to do that for yourself and your client’s brand.
Now, this doesn’t just mean incessantly messaging them or responding to everything they tweet (in fact, avoid doing that). But rather, you should look to make yourself a personality within their social sphere. That is just as much about building up your social brand as it is appealing to them directly.
Once you are friends/mutual followers with these target journalists, publishers and marketing executives, start putting your social game into high gear. Share insightful advice and stores, discuss hot trends and suggest leadership by sharing content you’re proud of. A link to a great article can go a long way to show you understand the sort of thing new media professionals are looking for.
The key to this is to make yourself look and feel relevant in the modern PR landscape. New media is all about being ahead of the trends, so give the impression you’re not just across everything, but leading the way.
Beyond brand name and quality of content, the one thing all new media contacts will be looking for above all else is relevancy.
Relevancy can mean many things. Don’t be put off by the idea that your client or idea might not line up entirely with the new media outlet’s output, but don’t be afraid to go for a clash of styles every now and then.
New media outlets are so often started with a specific mission or culture in mind. If they’re going to work with someone they’ll want it to be someone from that world, in line with that culture or able to bring them in a significant enough audience. Try and find things that appeal to your client and have a natural (if a bit underground) crossover appeal.
The best new media has a clear idea of what it wants to do—a base idea it builds around. If you know your client well enough these opportunities will be obvious. Are they well known for budgeting travel? Try getting them a feature with Skift. Can they offer advice to business owners? Then maybe a feature of the productivity podcast Get Yourself Optimized would expand their professional reach. In short, find blogs, podcasts and websites that host a variety of guest contributors, but have a clear focus.
Never get ahead of yourself when it comes to PR. Celebrating your successes with a campaign is important, but don’t get carried away and assume everyone in the media circle will be dying to work with you and your clients.
A great way to keep this lesson at the forefront of your mind and most effectively learn from your victories is to start small. Both in terms of targets and goals.
Small new media brands are ideal companies to work with because they need your assets as much as you need their exposure. They need guests for their podcasts, exciting voices to feature and endorsements from people with notoriety. They’re less likely to turn you down for arbitrary reasons and offer exposure to new circles with every campaign.
This is something you can build into you and your clients brand. As someone in PR you earn a name for yourself as the go-to person for small new media brands looking for someone who does quality work. Just like an indie film can be the feature that gets an actor their shot at the big time, this small new media opportunity could give you the ‘quality content’ or ‘consummate professional’ seal of approval for the next few years.
Provide them with something different
New media (as the name might suggest) means exciting, different and contemporary. It’s not just new because of the way content is being produced and presented to people, but often because of the ideas encapsulated within it.
Podcasts, for example, can’t keep up with regularly broadcast news so they need to look at things from a different angle. What they’ll be wanting from the PR side of the profession is someone who can provide them something no one else is doing, in a way no one else has thought of yet.
When pitching, consider the usual who, when, why, what, how questions—but also ask yourself “now, why me?” It’s not enough to be appealing to an audience in PR, you have to be substantially more impressive than the last email or DM that the editor or journalist just received.
Sometimes that difference can even hold a piece of sub-par content or a less than impressive name. Think about how you can work in contrast to the perception of your client or their industry, taking them out of their comfort zone and into a new media that will challenge them.
New media is so many things, and often quite intimidating to break into. It may be young, innovative and exciting, but everyone wants a piece of it. Stick to what you know and sprinkle in some creativity, a sense of modernity and persistence and you’ll make in-roads in no time.