Whether you’re looking to raise your public profile, or hoping to get the word out about a new product, media coverage is one of the best ways to get your company noticed.

Unfortunately though, obtaining press coverage isn’t a simple matter of firing off pitches and hoping for the best. Like all good things, successful media publicity is the result of hard work, and careful planning.

Journalists now outnumber PR professionals five to one. In order to stand out in today’s information-saturated world, you’re going to need a plan – one that will help you land the coverage you need.

Every growing up business faces similar challenges. You’ve worked hard to build your product, and now it’s time to launch. But how do you get the word out?

Getting media coverage is one of the best ways to promote your company.

Here are the main reasons social media coverage is essential:

  • Brand recognition. Media coverage is one of the best ways to boost your profile. Everyone knows what Facebook and Google do. Why? Because they have strong brands.
  • Attract new users. Every startup dreams of rapid growth. PR can be an effective way to generate sign-ups and increase sales.
  • Investor interest. Publicizing your story can build interest among investors. It also helps if people know who you are before you pitch them.
  • Raise profile with potential partners. People need to trust you before they’re going to be interested in partnering. Social proof provides confidence to potential partners.
  • Recruit great people. Hiring great staff is a challenge for every startup. You’re brand new. You’re unknown. Media coverage helps distinguish you from all the other startups vying for attention.

Here are the 4 steps to get you started:

Determine your key message and set a timeframe.

It may be that you’ve launched an exciting new product, raised a significant funding round from well-known investors, or that you’re growing rapidly.

You need to set clear goals. How much time can you afford to spend on this launch? Determine what you want to achieve with your launch. This will help when you’re planning your time. Do you mind if one journalist covers it, or do you want to make a big splash?

Research relevant journalists.

Make a list of journalists who you’d like to cover the announcement. Ideally, you’re looking for journalists who cover similar topics. They’re the most likely to write about your launch. Always expect to have many more journalists on your list than stories you’d like written. PR is a numbers game.

Hold briefings.

Depending on what you’re launching, meeting journalists face to face can help build rapport. Demos work well, particularly with a tech product. Steve Jobs perfected the art of the demo and it helped Apple become the company it is today. Practice your demo until it’s polished.

Build the Perfect Pitch and Close the Deal

Create beautiful and detailed assets for the media. Be prepared to provide the information they request. Time is of the essence, so anticipate their questions and stockpile your answers and assets accordingly.

No one wants to be thought of as pushy – visions of the clichéd used car salesman spring to mind. When closing the deal with writers, don’t be aggressive. Your goal isn’t to pressure a writer into covering you; you’re just confirming interest.

Follow up only after two or three days. Even if you’re in a time crunch, it’s important to wait at least 24 hours.

When a writer responds with a “not interested,” don’t be discouraged: it happens. Instead, try to use no’s as an opportunity to learn what you can do differently next time. Maybe the timing was wrong, or the story was a poor fit for the publication. Whatever it is, be sure to respond to the writer, thanking them for their consideration, and if the timing’s right – consider asking if you could pitch to them again in the future. Always treat a no like a future yes.

When a writer does respond positively to your pitch, make sure you’re available to give them everything they need to tell your story. If you’re launching, make sure your website is ready. If they ask for an interview, make yourself available for one. Have your press assets on hand: founder bios, photos or videos of the products in action, and your company story or media release. A few great pieces can be extremely impactful, so focus on quality over quantity.

Keep up with journalists who feature you. Follow them on social media, comment on their articles, and share leads that you think they’ll find interesting. Work hard to maintain the relationships that you’ve established. You never know when you might have more news to share.