In 20 years of working with C-level executives to broaden their companies’ media exposure, one of the most common complaints I hear is along these lines: “I’ve never heard of this magazine/blog/Web site/channel; I really don’t think this is worth my time.”
We understand the value of our clients’ time--that most executives are sacrificing something of at least equal importance when they make time for an interview. We also understand why they prefer top-tier media to lesser-known outlets: The wider a media outlet’s reach, the wider the audience and the greater the chance of reaching people who can pull the trigger on buying goods and services from the company being featured.
As a result, many execs are not just reluctant to give time to second-tier media--they are completely unwilling.
That is a mistake for a couple of reasons. First, unless an outlet has a readership of only 50 people, is a total hotbed of snark and likely to torpedo your brand image, or only focuses on forklift technology when you are a cloud software provider, it’s likely that your message will reach at least one person who is actually in a position to buy your services or influence someone else to do so.
Second, the reporters who are covering your company’s beat today for a lower-tier outlet may one day be covering your beat at the top-tier. In fact, if they are good, it’s likelier than not they will.
Indeed, I’ve lost count of the number of times a reporter I’ve worked with at a local business journal, trade magazine, or industry blog eventually ended up at Fortune, or The Wall Street Journal, or The New York Times. Everybody has to start somewhere, and that includes those smart, tenacious, and gifted enough to make it up the chain.
What moved me to write about this? Recently, one of our clients was ready to announce some fairly big news. As we were strategizing about media outreach, on our list of intended targets was a blogger at a narrowly focused but influential industry blog. We had a very good relationship with this blogger, having brokered several sitdowns with our client’s CEO over the past two years.
Before we reached out to him, we did what we always do: We looked at his most recent coverage. This way we know in advance whether, for example, he might have covered a competitor or perhaps changed beats. Or perhaps that person is no longer there, which turned out to be the case with our blogger.
Next we went to his LinkedIn profile, which still showed him at the blog. His Twitter page didn't offer any clues as to where he was either. His last tweet linked to a story from his previous gig at the blog. So we moved on.
Cut to the present. A major story broke regarding a tech giant’s entry into our client’s industry. We did a deep dive to find out who was writing about the news and what was being said. Then we shared the best stories with our client CEO to get his thoughts and potentially share them with some key reporters.
And, lo and behold, we found our blogger. Except now he was a columnist--at one of the top business outlets in the world.
Because we always made time for him, as did our client, he was quite receptive when we not only reached out and congratulated him on his move, but when we offered him an exclusive sitdown with our client CEO to discuss both our most recent news and his thoughts on the news that just broke.
That, of course, underscores my original point: The third-tier reporter you make time for today may be the key to your top-tier coverage tomorrow. It works for us. It will work for you, too.