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Developing an Understanding of the Media Landscape to See Where Your Story is Best Suited

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Getting the press to tell your business’s story can lead to increased social proof, visibility, leads, and even sales, but finding the right media outlets to cover your business takes time and effort. 

Here, I explain how to survey the media landscape and give yourself the best chance of finding the right home for your story.

Identify Your Story

First things first — before approaching the media, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of your brand’s story. To be effective, this narrative should be easy to understand, have a clearly defined purpose, and resonate emotionally with your audience. Brand stories that do this can cultivate a genuine emotional bond with customers that, over time, evolves into loyalty.

Crafting these brand stories is often more straightforward than it may seem. One pivotal question I consistently ask my clients is if any aspects of their personal journey contributed to the start of their brand. For instance, consider how the bearded face and simple lifestyle of Burt’s Bees’s co-founder Burt Shavitz is central to that brand’s story.

If the business doesn’t have that kind of personal element, I investigate who their Ideal Customer Avatar (ICA) is to find the best way to intertwine the brand’s narrative with stories about their target audience. Airbnb does this well, centering its messaging around its customers’ experiences: family members gathering for a reunion, a couple having a romantic weekend, or children jumping into a pool.

Once you know what your brand’s story is, it’s time to find the right place to tell it.

Analyzing Outlets’ Content

Research is indispensable when identifying the right media outlets to approach. To begin, look at possible digital publications and analyze their content. Identify any recurring themes. Social listening tools like Sprout Social and Hootsuite can also allow you to monitor online conversations related to the outlet and reveal their trending topics. This will help you identify the story angles that resonate most with their editors and audience.

Since different outlets take a wide range of different formats — from traditional news reporting to blog posts, videos, infographics, listicles, podcasts, and more — take note of the type of content they publish and the kind of language they use. Not every format is appropriate for all kinds of content. 

For instance, tech companies or financial consulting firms that need to explain complex concepts might consider outlets that would be receptive to informative articles or blog posts. A lifestyle brand looking to build a personal connection with the audience might consider having a spokesperson appear on podcasts. If you run a travel agency, visual content like videos showcasing exotic destinations would likely be more effective than dense articles. Businesses that offer professional services could craft case studies or host webinars to establish their expertise.

Approach outlets with formats that harmonize with your business’s goals and the preferences of the target audience. Tailoring your materials to fit the outlet’s existing style and expectations also increases the likelihood of a successful collaboration. If you can offer an exclusive, even better — editors love knowing they’ll be the only ones with the story.

Finally, sometimes your timeline will dictate who you approach. In one of my previous projects, I only had about a month to promote a product launch, which meant I couldn’t collaborate with major celebrities, who needed at least three months’ lead time. I pivoted to micro- and macro-influencers who loved the brand, and they promoted the product with user-generated content on social media instead.

This approach was highly successful, raising the brand’s profile within key groups. This brings us to the next important step — understanding which outlets can connect you to the right people.

Researching Outlets’ Audiences

To gather data on outlets’ traffic and demographics, consider tools like Google Analytics that uncover important information about a page’s visitors, including their age, gender, and location. Prioritize those outlets with audiences that align with your business’s ICA.

In addition, consider the outlets’ presence on social media to gauge their engagement with users. Pay close attention to metrics such as likes, shares, comments, and reposts. What gets the most interest? That’s the most fertile ground for your own story ideas.

Likewise, if you can, participate in outlets’ events, webinars, and online forums. These provide direct interactions with their audience.

By weaving together insights from these methods, a comprehensive understanding of the target audience’s characteristics, interests, and behaviors emerges. Once you’ve collected this data, consider creating audience personas for each outlet. Constructing vivid representations of their typical readers can help you craft messages that will resonate with their readership. 

In addition to conducting this due diligence, make sure to stay on top of media industry trends to reach audiences best, and tailor your pitches and other content properly.

Staying on Top of Media Industry Trends

The media landscape evolves constantly, so it’s important to keep abreast of these developments. Doing so will enable you to maximize exposure and keep your content relevant to audiences’ latest preferences and behaviors. Emerging platforms or formats also tend to be less saturated markets, so identifying these and participating in them early also increases your story’s chance of standing out.

On the other hand, neglecting to keep up with these trends leads to lackluster results. For instance, you can rely on outdated strategies or disseminate ineffective content that fails to connect with people. In this way, you can miss opportunities to promote your brand or even lose your competitive advantage.

There are numerous ways you can stay current, from reading industry-related publications and subscribing to relevant newsletters to following key influencers and organizations on social media. Market research reports can be a goldmine of actionable insights, or if you like podcasts, tune into those by industry leaders. If you prefer conferences, workshops, or webinars, there is a wealth of those opportunities, as well.

Finally, don’t forget to experiment with new platforms, tools, and formats yourself. Hands-on experience will empower you to make informed choices, harness new opportunities, and keep your content aligned with evolving audience expectations.

Watch Your Brand Take Off

At the end of the day, navigating the media landscape successfully comes down to forging genuine human connections. Effective PR professionals find out what will make your story stick, understand which outlets would be a good fit, and craft your messages for the maximum chances of success.

This requires time, consistency, and effort. But when your brand takes off as a result, the work is more than worth it.

About the author


Chan Desai

Chan Desai is an Account Strategist for Otter PR. Chan graduated with a Master’s degree in Management Communication, with a focus on Marketing Communication, and an undergraduate degree in Communication Studies with a focus on Media Studies. She also has a double minor in Public Relations and Journalism. Her experience stems from direct fieldwork in the media, and public relations experience from working in-house to agencies alike. Chan is a savvy PR professional with a passion for effective storytelling which has translated into earned client successes. Chan has landed her clients in a range of publications, including but not limited to Forbes, The Washington Post, Benzinga, Fast Company, WWD, Yahoo, Yahoo Finance, MarketWatch, New York Weekly, California Business Journal and MSN.