Ira glass says “public radio is ready for capitalism,” but is he right? After the sudden success of the podcast Serial, an offshoot of Ira Glass’s radio show This American Life, podcasters (and marketers) have been looking to capitalize on podcasts new popularity. But before they can start to woo advertisers (usually tech startups like Mailchimp, Squarespace, or Audible), most podcasts need to increase their press coverage.
Even if you have a dedicated niche following, if the media hasn’t heard of you, neither have advertisers. While it might be tempting to eschew advertisers all together – after all, this is podcasting, and the truth is most of us are doing it for the love of the game (I like to think that, anyway). As Chris Hardwick from The Nerdist so aptly put it “America is a f – ing billboard at this point and it’s irritating”. But even Chris Hardwick entered into a partnership with Midroll Media, because, as he said, “it’s like trying to open a business with hugs as collateral… goodwill should only have to last so long.”
So if you’re ready to enter the world of advertising, we feel you. And we think increasing your press is the first step on a long road, that, we hope, will eventually end in a paycheck from your podcast.
In order to figure out the best way you can increase your press, we decided to ask Conrad Egusa, a former writer for VentureBeat and TechCrunch and the co-founder of publicze.co, the go-toPR company for startups. He is also a Global Mentor at 500 Startups. Basically, he knows what he’s talking about.
The single most important thing a podcast (or any startup, really) can do to increase their visibility, he says, is to contact the media. “As a general rule, a company won’t be featured in publications unless it emails a journalist/publication. As an example, when a company asks me why they haven’t been featured in TechCrunch, the first thing I ask is whether they’ve written publication yet.”
Believe it or not, the media might be interested in writing a story about you or your podcast – they just don’t know it yet. It’s your responsibility to tell them. So here are ten tips for contacting the media and successfully getting your story out there:
1. Make it a story
My podcast helps my listeners build wealth and prepare for retirement using time honored, proven tips and expert strategies…this might be true, but it’s an advertisement, and (most of the time) advertisements aren’t newsworthy. If you want a publication to write something about you, you need to give them a story.
There are lots of different types of stories that you can pitch. One of my favorite stories is an article that Chris Hardwick wrote for The Wired in 2011. In it, he chronicles his personal journey, from a nerdy little kid, to an alcoholic, obsessively gaming in his crappy apartment, to… the host of Nerdist Industries.
I’m not saying you have to write them the whole article, like Chris Hardwick did, but you should give them the bare bones. Who’s the protagonist? What did they have to overcome? How did it change them? These are the bones of a good stories.
2. Make it new
So you have your story – but have we all heard it before? Whatever you want to say, make it new. Publications want to publish content that readers haven’t heard about, content that is genuinely new. So take a moment, when you are considering who your company is, and what it has to offer – how is this different from everything else that everybody else is doing right now. How am I new?
3. Make it relevant
It’s also important that the content you submit is relevant. Is there anything going on in the world that makes what you have to say particularly important? Maybe you have been running a financial podcast on the state of the EU and business in Europe for years, and suddenly the crisis in Greece is happening…do you see where I’m going? Or maybe your podcast is about educational policy and practices – maybe this is an opportunity to weigh in on what some of the presidential candidates are saying about education.
The chances of a journalist taking interest in your content go up if they feel your content is relevant to something that’s getting a lot of attention right now.
4. Use Shock Value
As Jim Morrison once said “Where’s your will to be weird?” Let’s face it, people like to read odd stuff. They like to be shocked. If there’s something strange or new, or best of all, new and strange, then chances are, it’s something worth writing about. We’re not saying it needs to be x-rated, or ultra controversial, but it will help a lot to throw something in that genuinely surprises people. So make it whacky!
5. Tell the Truth
I’m sorry I have to say this (because we’re all just honest by nature, right?) but tell the publication the truth. Don’t fudge your numbers, make up stories, or paint a deceiving picture. You’re writing to journalists – if they’re any good at what they do, they’re going to look into what you said. And if they find out you lied, it’s going to ruin your credibility, if not with your customers, then with future publications.
6. Choose your Publications
Send your content to the right publications! Sports blogs probably don’t want to hear about your literary podcast, and literary blogs don’t want to hear about your sports podcast. Am I stereotyping here? Either way, the point stands – pick the publications that are most likely to take interest in your story.
You can find a list of free PR resources here, including Top Tech Bloggers, Top Tech Blog Reporters, Top 100 Newspapers, Top 100 Newspaper Reporters, and so on.
7. Tailor for Each Publication
Don’t send out the same email to every publication you think might be interested. Every publication is different, they have a different tone, a different lean, and a different take on the way they report. Get to know the mindset and tone of the publications you are contacting.
If the writing style is informal and upbeat, then send an email in that tone, with a story that you feel would match the writing style and themes that that publication espouses. If you’re thinking that that sounds like a lot of research – it is. Do this for every publication you send an email to. You don’t talk to your mom the same way you talk to your boss – so don’t you the same wording or even the same ideas for every publication or journalist you contact.
8. Include Facts
Facts let the journalist or publication know that you are credible and that you have done your research. If you use outside statistics, make sure to cite your sources. Don’t go overboard including superfluous statistics or fluff, though. Which leads us to our next point…
9. Keep it short
Remember – you don’t have to write the story for them! Give them the dry facts, and then let them decide where to go next. Ideally, you should be writing a brief, three to four paragraph email. It really doesn’t need to be any longer than the template below.
Download the template for word here: Press Release Template
So, you’ve sent out all your letters – are you finished now? Of course not! A good PR process is about building a relationship with the media. You need to continue outreach and repeat the process described above with each announcement – ideally every 8-12 weeks.
Ultimately, as a podcaster, you might seem like you are a small fish in a pond, of well, many many other small fish. Conrad Egusa’s believes “the most important step for a podcaster or any entrepreneur is to be the best in the world in a specific area. As an example, a person should not focus on being the best marketer for everyone, but rather being the best in the world at social media/PR/etc. for a specific industry.” And you can do that, right? You can be the best podcast in the world for single male cat lovers or basketball players who love Star Trek. And if you are, that is certainly newsworthy.
For questions or comments about this article, feel free to email us at [email protected] In fact, feel free to email us with any of your podcasting questions – we’d love to help. For help with your PR process and a free PR consultations, click here.
Thanks for reading this article, we hope we were able to get you successfully started on your PR journey!