Think of how much more credible your brand will be when a well-respected industry analyst talks about how a specific problem needs to be solved with your solution. Or, think of an article in a trade publication that is written by an editor or a post in an industry blog that highlights the need for a solution similar to yours AND mentions your company.
For many, this is they holy grail of any PR program and clearly increases your credibility. However, earning endorsements from industry influencers such as bloggers, editors or analysts is not easy. It takes a lot of time to work towards this endorsement and any attempt to get this done quickly will most likely result in failure or worse permanent damage to your credibility.
You have to remember that editors and analysts have spent years building their brands and reputations in the industry and they need to be careful who or what they talk about or all this hard work will be for naught. Any analyst or editor that will provide an endorsement quickly for a favor or money, is not an endorsement you want. It may help in the short term but in the longer term it will have cost you money, your reputation or both.
So how do you get industry influencers to talk about your product or your approach to solving a certain product, which is more likely. Obviously, having a previous relationship with an editor or analyst helps in the early stages but these relationships are not as valuable if the story you are pitching does not match what they are working on at that time. At the same time, don’t let a lack of relationships stop you from reaching out to the editor or analyst that covers your space.
The approach for media and analysts should be different but there are also clearly some similarities. In both cases, the key is to build a long-term relationship with the right editors or analysts that cover your market but how do you get their attention initially. Editors and analysts are bombarded day in and day out with pitches from all kinds of companies big and small. You need to be able to standout from the crowd with a simple, differentiated message but even more important you need to ensure you are sending this message to the right person.
If you talk to editors and analysts about their pet peeves, it’s almost universally the mass email pitches they receive all the times that are about products or services that do not fit within the scope of what they write about or cover. If every company or PR agency would only spend just a little more time to research who the experts are in their industry and only reached out to them, then things could be a lot simpler. Make sure you do this and I’m sure your editors and analysts will appreciate it, as it makes their life easier.
For analysts, after you have identified the right ones, you need to educate them about your views on the market and your solution to customer problems which is normally done in the context of a briefing. Firms have different approaches as to how you should contact their analysts so it’s important you educate yourself and follow it but don’t let that stop you from trying to reach the analyst directly. The bottom line though is that getting a briefing can be pretty straightforward as the analysts also need to learn about the market and solutions available as part of their job. Getting them to endorse you is a whole different story and the best angle may be to look at awards many of these firms give out.
Editors, and I’ll put bloggers in this category too, are totally different, as you need to help them find interesting angles to stories. The media generally doesn’t have time to just hear about cool technologies or products as they have deadlines and stories to write. You need to fit into something they are already working on or give them a case study about how someone faced the same problem and how they solved it. Let it be about your customer not your company. That’s powerful and editors clamor for these types of stories.
Another angle with the media is to try what David Meerman Scott calls newsjacking. The goal here is to inject your angle into a specific topic or news story in real-time. But for this to work, you need to act fast and show how your perspective fits within the follow-up article on a certain topic. Basically, you are trying to become the second source for the editor or blogger which can be very effective. Strong data from research or analysis you’ve done can also be appealing as editors will often use that when they need to backup a point in the article.
While analysts, may endorse companies through awards and reports they write, editors are far less likely to do that unless the publication also issues awards. But the goal with the media is to get coverage in as many articles as you can that are relevant and help to make you a thought leader and more credible.
When reaching out to media or analysts, you may need to be persistent as they do get a lot of pitches that sound similar but if you’ve done your homework in terms of finding the right person and delivering the right message then you can and should get above the clutter of “me too” companies. Now, I do realize I’m oversimplifying here but at the same time, I don’t believe your efforts need to be complicated. You just need to focus your efforts on a short list of relevant editors or analysts to get that endorsement or reference and build credibility.