How to Get Media Coverage with Zero Connections and Zero Dollars

One of the best ways to get more shoppers to your store is with publicity. Media outlets already have the traffic, why not let them send it your way?

But you can’t just call up the Today Show and say, “Hey, I sell stuff. Plz tell the world for me. Thx, bye.”

That’s not going to work. Journalists and influencers hear pitches all day long. You have to make it interesting for them and relevant to their audiences. So where should you start?

Make a List of Relevant Sites

Big media outlets get thousands of press releases each day. It’s like showing up at an American Idol casting call. You’re not getting in unless you really stand out. So take your story somewhere smaller, where it’s easier to get in the door.

Do a little research on blogs that target your niche and see if they’ll let you submit your products for review or even do a guest post. (Hint: Shopify has a blog that often features their user’s stores.)

But how do you find a whole list of blogs like that? Google, my friend! Search for things like:

+ XYZ product reviews

+ XYZ bloggers

+ XYZ influencers

The results that appear on the first page will be high ranking, which means they likely have lots of followers. That means lots of potential customers.

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Start a spreadsheet or Word doc with the name of the site, writer’s name, article name, contact info, etc. It’s also a good idea to Google the writer and see who else they’ve written for. That can give you more leads and help you “get to know” the writer so that you can tailor your pitch to them.

If that seems like a lot of work, hire someone on Fiverr to do it for you. Or you can pay roughly $20 and use a service like Press Farm. Or just get started with this list of product blogs:

+ Shut Up and Take My Money

+ Gear Patrol

+ Thrillist

+ Uncrate

+ Cool Hunting

+ I Waste So Much Money

+ The Awesomer

+ Gadget Review

+ Gizmodo

+ Unique Hunters

If that list isn’t enough for you, you can get more ideas by checking out who is linking to your competitors. It’s super easy to get this info using Moz’s OpenSiteExplorer. Just enter your competitor’s website and take a look at their inbound links. Those are all the sites that are linking to them. Check those sites out and add them to your list if relevant.

You’ll need to have a look around all these sites and make sure your product appeals to their target audience. Make sure you have images that won’t look out of place on their site. Don’t waste your time pitching to sites that aren’t a good fit.

How to Pitch Your Products

Now you have a list of all these sites and writers that you know will be a perfect fit for your products. But you can’t just shove your products in their face and say, “Give me attention!” You want to build a relationship with them so that you can continue to squeeze that media juice from them in the future. And, ya know, because they’re actual humans who you might enjoy chatting with since you share a common interest (your niche!).

A few guidelines:

+ Make sure your subject line is attention-grabbing

+ Don’t use all caps (STOP SHOUTING!)

+ Show your personality, stand out

+ Offer to send them a product sample

+ Customize each email to its recipient

+ Make it easy for them to contact you – display your email, phone, etc. prominently

+ Follow up, follow up, follow up

Subject Lines

In journalism school (is that still a thing?), journalists learn that the headline is by far the most important part of the story. They often spend as much time crafting a good headline as they do writing a good article. A good headline ensures readers will check out the accompanying article. A bad headline means no one cares. Treat your subject line like a headline. You can even use a headline analyzer to make sure it’s engaging.

A few ideas:

+ Product X Launching in July, Samples Available for Review

+ Follow Up to Your Piece on X

+ I’m a Paper Salesman Who Started a Swizzle Stick Company

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The Email

Remember to think like a journalist. Three things you need to keep in mind:

+ The Five W’s: Who, what, when, where, why. Be sure to answer these in your email.

+ The Inverted Pyramid: Put the most important info at the top with less important/background info at the end.

+ Newsworthiness: The story you tell must contain something interesting. Things like:

~ Conflict – does your product go against common thinking or solve a common problem?

~ Extremes – the biggest, smallest, newest, worst, etc.

~ Timeliness – does it relate to an upcoming holiday or something in the news?

~ Surprising – is there something unexpected about your product or story?

Sample Email #1

Hey [Name],

I’m reaching out to see if you’d be interested in receiving a sample Bork for review. They’re sporks in the shape of cats that we’re officially launching in July. We’ve found that millennial hikers consider them a “must-have” for multi-day urban treks. You can check them out here: [link].

I think Borks would align well with what you’ve written about on [site name]. Your article on [related subject] was hysterical!

If you’re interested, let me know. You can reach me at [number] if you have any questions.

Thanks,

[Your Name and Contact Info]

Sample Email #2

Hey [Name]!

I’m a huge fan of your articles, especially the recent one about [related subject]. I sell a related product called Bingle – it’s an iphone case in the shape of a taco. People love it because it’s made from solid gold, and it has a zippered pouch for holding your trail mix. You can see all the details here: [link].

If you’re interested in learning more, let me know. I’m happy to schedule a time to chat with you or send you a sample.

Talk to you soon,

[Your Name and Contact Info]

Sample Email #3

Hey [Name],

I’ve read a few of your articles (especially loved the one about [related subject]) and thought your readers might be interested in my story. I went from sitting in a cubicle, bored out of my mind all day, to running a company that makes custom shaped swizzle sticks for molecular mixologists.

I’d love to share my story with you. I have tons of high-res product photos and can send some samples your way if you like. Looking forward to your thoughts!

Cheers,

[Your Name and Contact Info]

It’s also a great idea to add a P.S. at the end of your email, especially one containing a question. That way you’re not just throwing info in their lap. You’re clearly asking for a response. Here’s a good example:

P.S. If you aren’t the right person for this story, do you know of someone who is?

Following Up

People get busy, they forget things, stuff falls through the cracks. Don’t be afraid to keep following up. Once a week is probably enough. Give it the old three strikes and you’re out rule. After the third follow up without a response, let it go and try someone else.

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Tip: You can install an email tracking tool like Mixmax to see if people are even opening your emails. If not, you need to adjust your subject line. If they’re opening the emails but not replying, try changing up the body of the email.

Making It a Habit

If you send out 5 emails and expect your product to blow up, you’re going to have a rough time. You need to be consistent. Make it a goal to reach out to a specific number of people per day or week. The more you reach out, the more responses you’ll get.

But don’t get trigger happy. Remember to focus on writers related to your niche.

Getting Publicity Through Social Media

Instead of waiting for someone to promote your products for you, do it yourself! Seek out groups or forums related to your industry and post about them there. Journalists often follow these groups, so if your post gets a lot of replies, not only will you be building followers in that community, but your post may also become newsworthy enough to get picked up by other media outlets.

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A few places to start:

+ Reddit

+ Product Hunt

+ Hacker News

Reddit is a great place to start because it’s easy to find narrowly defined subreddits that clearly relate to your product. Plus, it’s a great place to get feedback from a large audience, including fellow business owners. Be sure to read the sidebar in whatever subreddits you’re interested in before posting. If you don’t follow their guidelines, they won’t be shy about letting you know.

Conclusion

Find the people who want to hear about your products and get your products in front of them. It’s far more effective than sending out a mass press release to everyone with an email address.

Even just one article can get the ball rolling and start increasing your sales. Once you get featured in a few places, consider adding a section to your store that shows logos for the sites where you’ve been featured. It’s a great way to add social proof and build trust with potential buyers.

About the Author

Gennifer is the Customer Support Magician at ByteStand, where she lives and breathes customer service education while sipping coffee in her pajamas.

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