There are a number of ways to make yourself a media contact person, or to Becoming the “Go to Guy” in your industry, but as with all things that are worth doing it takes time and genuine relationship building.
There are lots of reasons to want to help out reporters, it will help increase your brand’s exposure, reputation and will help to position your company as an industry expert. But perhaps most importantly for SEO, it will provide links back to your website.
So where do you start? Before you can approach reporters you need to know who they are, what they write about and where their work is published. When I am doing this I tend to make a spreadsheet in Google docs, it keeps it organised and is easy to share with other people in your company. Many reporters are freelance which means that they will work in a number of news outlets, so when you‘re making your list make sure you make a note of all the places that they write for.
In addition to national news reporters make sure you pay attention to who writes for trade publications, they will be able to provide stories directly aimed at your niche.
Once you’ve made your list you need to start building relationships with those people. There are a couple of ways that are very effective. The first method is to use Twitter.
When using Twitter make sure you keep a regular eye on hashtags used by journalists such as #journorequest, #journalistrequest, and #HARO (Help A Reporter Out). Journalists regularly use these hashtags to ask for help when researching a story. If a journalist uses you as a source they will then credit you in the article (normally with a link back to your website). When using these hashtags combine them with a keyword relevant to your niche and you often get some great opportunities. Speed is crucial though, so make sure you’re quick to respond.
When using these hashtags it may take a while for anything relevant to come up, and even then for a journalist to take you up on your offer but stick with it. The results will be worth the wait!
It’s also worth noting that a journalist may do some research into your twitter feed to see if you really are involved in the industry, so make sure that you use twitter regularly and target your tweets at your niche.
Another contact method is email. Everyone likes feedback, and there is no reason why you can’t give journalists any. Just make sure it’s nice and helpful, otherwise they may just ignore you! When emailing that say how X was good, you especially liked Y, but you were not quite sure of Z. Alternatively mention how you have been doing some of your own research in this area that would dovetail nicely with their article, would they like it?
The aim is to build relationships, give them stories, industry data, or run surveys and then give them the results. There are lots of different things that you could do for them but the aim of it all is to get your name mentioned along with your industry and links back to your website. Over time you will become the “go to guy” for your industry and the more quality links you get the better your site will rank.