Entrepreneurs are always looking for that competitive edge that makes them stand out and puts them at the top of their industry. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by consistently appearing in the media. When you’re being interviewed on radio and television, in newspapers, magazines and online articles, it is the ultimate form of credibility. Having your insights featured by the press and aligning your name with local and national media outlets sends a message that you are truly an expert in your field.

The problem facing most entrepreneurs is that while they are very good at what they do, very few know how to attract the attention of local and national media outlets. As a result, they’re missing out on one of the biggest credibility builders out there that when leveraged properly, can be a business game changer.

Here are eight secrets for generating media coverage:

1. Serve as an expert source – The #1 reason most people can’t generate media coverage is because they make it a sales pitch or advertisement about themselves. Instead of making the focus of your media pitch about you, focus on an important topic and serve as an expert to explain it. The media is looking for tips, insights and actionable items that can help their viewers, readers or listeners understand a topic. Be that expert voice for the media.  

2. Establish your platform – What makes you a true expert in your field? Your platform. How are you identifying yourself to the media? In your media pitch, make sure to introduce yourself as John Smith, author of the book XYZ, CEO of XYZ Company or Professor of XYZ. The media doesn’t need to know all the details of your life nor do they care, but pick one or two things that most establishes you as an expert.

3. Say something different, bold or controversial – If your message is the same as 99% of the messages out there, why should the media focus on you? Say something different, take the other side of an issue and don’t be afraid to be controversial. One very important point to this though: be prepared to back up your point of view.    

4. Focus on current events – One of the best ways to generate media coverage is to tie your message to current events. What hot topics are happening in your area of expertise that the media will be covering? Offer yourself as a source to comment on these current events. If it’s a breaking news story in your industry, the key is to act quickly.  When news breaks, the media needs sources. If they can’t find you when they need you, they will find someone else.  

5. Keep pitching new angles – Publicity is a process that takes time and is often filled with rejection of your ideas from reporters, editors and producers. It’s imperative to keep coming up with new and fresh angles with which to approach the media. Just because you don’t get any bites on the first few tries, don’t give up. Change your pitch, find a new angle or say something different and keep trying. It takes time and persistence.
6. Contribute articles – What most people don’t realise about magazines and online news outlets is that they are always looking for informative and original articles to use from outside contributors. Write an informative article on a topic in your area of expertise full of great tips and ideas, and then offer the article to magazine and online editors. They won’t pay you for it, but make sure to include a one-paragraph bio with a link back to your webpage that will run at the end of the article.

7. Know how to write for the media – Television news, for example, is written on an elementary school level. Keep it simple, not too technical and watch your grammar. Open with a catchy and to-the-point sentence. Break up the monotonous paragraphs with some bullet points. It’s okay to ‘sexy’ your message up a bit, but never lie and make promises you can’t deliver on.    

8. Know your audience – Most of my clients love the opportunity to be interviewed on television. It is still the most popular of any media and with good reason. The reality is, while everyone can benefit from media exposure, not all messages are created for TV. Make sure you’re targeting the correct audience and the media outlets that will be most interested in interviewing you. There is still a tremendous amount of credibility in radio, newspapers, magazines and online news sites and blogs. Every message is different and needs to be treated as such.

If you use these simple secrets as a guide when pitching the media, you will tremendously increase your chances of generating coverage. Like anything else, it’s a skill that must be mastered, and it takes time, persistence and a lot of follow-up.