Pitching a story to a journalist or paying for sponsored content? Why not both?
In this article, we compare paid and earned media coverage, looking at their differences, advantages and disadvantages. By the end, we hope you’ll be able to see how each of these strategies can help you pave the road to front-page coverage.
Pitching Your Story Directly to Journalists
Every PR professional strives to see their story picked up by the media. Having a journalist of a reputable magazine like Forbes writing about your company can boost your credibility, generate traffic to your website, get you more customers, and make you stand out from competitors.
However, as good as it sounds, getting earned media coverage can be a very difficult and time-consuming task. First of all, you need to have a story that will be interesting enough for journalists to write about. Secondly, you have to do research, make a list of journalists who cover your area, and follow up their stories for some time to get acquainted with their topics and style. According to MuckRack’s report, most journalists receive up to 25 pitches per week, and the most common reason why they reject pitches is due to lack of personalization. So take your time to establish your connections and build your relationships over time so you can better tailor your pitches to appeal to particular journalists.
Another way to get to the journalists is to help them out. Journalists are constantly on the hunt for interesting stories and sources. Platforms like Cision’s HARO (Help A Reporter Out) and ProfNet (paid services with limited free options) are designed to connect PR professionals and journalists in need of information. On these platforms, journalists announce the topics they are working on and look for a professional in the field to say a word or two. With a little patience, a topic with your expertise will come up and you can grab the chance to put your brand’s name out there with insightful responses to questions, sometimes without paying a single dollar.
- Helps you build credibility
- Doesn‘t cost money
- No sponsored tag
- Publication is not guaranteed
- You don‘t have control over what is written
Sponsored content is paying for your story to get published.This is a less time-consuming option but it comes with a literal price. You could pay a newswire to distribute press releases and articles across the network like Bitcoin PR Buzz, or pay a magazine directly to carry your story.
The good thing about paid media is that you can get your story published on outlets like Cointelegraph, Bitcoin.com, Hackernoon, and others within 24 hours with you having near complete control over what is written.
However, the articles and press releases published this way are often marked as sponsored content, indicating to readers that the content is paid for. Another downside is that you need a budget to cover the costs of content distribution and publishing. But on the flip side, that can be compensated, as your story can get picked up by outlets without reaching out to them. This happens when journalists come across your paid press release and find it interesting enough to cover on their own.
- You get your story published quickly
- You can stay on top of the minds of your customers with multiple coordinated campaigns
- You have complete control over a message you want to send
- There is a chance that your story gets picked up by journalists without pitching them
- It can cost significant amounts of money, especially if you‘re running multiple campaigns
- Your content is marked as sponsored content
- Can appear to carry less credibility
Nothing beats organic traction by way of media outlets picking up your stories simply for their content value. Nevertheless, paid channels can be a good way to help your brand get the nudge it needs to get your name out there.
No one succeeded overnight and there is no instant solution that will make you the brand that everybody looks up to. That takes time. The best thing you can do is to combine these two strategies. Build your relationships and set aside a budget for paid campaigns to get the ball rolling.
In the end, what really matters is providing a story that gains reader attention. Succeed at getting the word out and the rest will follow. Whether you choose to promote your content through paid channels or by sending your pitches to the journalists, if the story is newsworthy enough, it will reach the right people and eventually get you that front-page cover spot.