This article was co-authored by Jennifer Rodriguez and Mason Aid.
Because thought leadership can help companies reach their target audience and close more business. In fact, over half of decision makers spend more than an hour each week consuming thought leadership content, and 47% of buyers say that thought leadership content led them to discover and purchase from a company that wasn’t a leader in the space.
So how can companies go about building thought leadership? One method is securing press coverage.
Looking for more in-depth insights into how you can use PR strategies to boost your business?
As you might have guessed, press mentions are mentions of you or your company in the press. But what does a press mention actually look like?
Whatever format it takes, a press mention is a mention of you or your brand that provides value to that publication’s audience. Let’s look at an example.
“How Ukrainian Company Respeecher De-Aged Mark Hamill’s Voice for ‘Boba Fett’ and ‘The Mandalorian’” is a press mention that we secured with one of our clients, Respeecher. While getting a feature like this can be difficult, this particular PR pitch had a few compelling elements that piqued the publication’s interest:
New episodes of “Boba Fett” and “The Mandalorian” were being released at the time.
The company was answering a genuine tech question that this publication’s readers would be interested in learning about: How did they create a younger character’s voice decades later?
The ethics angle of the company’s work helped make the publication more comfortable discussing what has been or could have been a controversial tool.
We were able to offer an exclusive demo to a VIP list. Giving them the opportunity to see the tech firsthand helped push this opportunity forward.
Want to see more examples of earned media results?
When building a content marketing strategy to build thought leadership, companies should pursue mentions of their business in the press because it offers some key benefits:
Third-party credibility: Being cited as a source in an article in a reputable publication boosts credibility in ways that aren’t possible in owned media (such as blog posts) and guest-contributed articles you’ve written yourself. This is helpful when you’re trying to attract investors and new business.
Awareness: While you can’t simply tout your products and services in interview answers, being mentioned in the press and sharing insights still allows you to bring awareness to your company — and your own personal brand. It can also expose you to new audiences you wouldn't normally have access to.
Relevance: When you’re invited to speak on issues and trends in your space, you get to add your perspective to the larger industry conversation. This can assure your audience that you’re a forward-thinking expert who is aware of current developments and is spurring the industry into the future. You can also use PR pitching as a way to dip your toe into new and trending topics without dedicating entire pieces of content around them.
SEO: If a mention of you or your business is included in an article, there’s a chance the publication will include a link back to your company or a piece of content you’ve created. These backlinks can improve the authority of your website and, therefore, your ranking on search engine results pages.
Relationship-building: Pursuing press mentions can familiarize the publication with your work and insights, giving you the opportunity to build a relationship that could eventually lead to future guest posts or other opportunities, such as speaking appearances, podcast guesting, being a future source for a story, etc.
Businesses can only realize the above benefits if they are actually featured in the press. So how can you get media coverage for your business?
Journalists, contributors, and editors can’t possibly feature you in their content if they’ve never heard of you and if they don’t have reason to believe that you’re an expert.
Publish blog posts, guest posts, whitepapers, industry reports, proprietary research, and more to showcase your expertise and build your thought leadership in your space. This way, when you reach out to publications offering to share your expertise, they will be able to tell that you are, in fact, the expert you claim to be.
Ready to leverage content to build thought leadership?
When you reach out to publications to secure mentions in the press, you can’t just regurgitate the same message that’s already out there. You have to have a distinct point of view from your unique vantage point in the industry. If you're riding the waves of what everyone else in your field is saying, there's no reason for a media contact to be interested in your thoughts over anyone else's.
So when you’re pitching your expertise, while you're aligning your thought leadership with your goals and opinions, make sure it’s also something the media contact hasn’t heard before. Find what makes your point of view different from your colleagues and make that the foundation of your pitch.
Sometimes, thought leaders are in “sales mode” when they need to be in “story mode.” Let me explain.
Companies often misunderstand the actual value-add of their offerings or what angles might be compelling to publications and their readers. This can lead thought leaders to focus their PR coverage on the messaging that tends to work for them in their sales cycles rather than the messaging that will attract a media contact's interest in covering the company for a publication.
For example, the CMO of a company that sells security systems might think, “I need to sell people on the quality of these systems.” While that might be true for the company’s website and sales collateral, that’s not true for press mentions. A journalist or editor will probably be more interested in how this leader’s knowledge can be applied in specific ways, like how security systems could be used in schools, how communities can better combine security systems and law enforcement resources, how technology can be used in stores to prevent theft, etc.
When you’re pitching yourself or your business for press coverage, you have to make sure you’re considering what journalists and editors are looking for in their coverage. Thinking through the seven news values can help with this:
Impact: Has there been a change in the industry that will have a ripple effect?
Timeliness: Is there a new law going into effect in your space? A pop culture reference that will be top of mind?
Prominence: Are there any well-known or notable individual connections or projects?
Proximity: Is there an angle that’s compelling to a specific region or area?
Novelty: Do you have an unusual, bizarre, or interesting story to tell?
Conflict: Do you have a strong opinion on an issue that’s yet to be resolved?
Relevance: Do you have something unique to add to the current industry conversation?
If you’re pitching your expertise to publications, you have to make sure your email won't get lost in the hundreds — if not thousands — of other PR pitches in editors’ inboxes. On top of the sheer number of emails you're competing with, it is notoriously difficult to get people to simply open an email — the average email open rate in media and publishing is only 22%. So follow the advice in this blog post to write a pitch email that stands out, and update your email subject lines using a tool like CoSchedule.
Press mentions can be a great way to build thought leadership in your industry and grow your business. So what are you waiting for? Try out these tips to take your content marketing and PR strategy to the next level.