It was 2010 and I just finished reading an article by Tom Peter called ‘The Brand You’.
At the time I had started a new business in the advisory space and standing out was quite tough. I knew an investment in building my personal profile was a must.
So I started looking at different ways on how I could grow my personal brand.
One of those ways was through the media. But the problem was I didn’t know where to start. I had zero connections in this space and I’d never been featured in a publication.
Not even the local newspaper.
Very new and quite inexperienced I did what every other entrepreneur would do, head down the traditional route.
I made a list of the top 3 publications I wanted to be featured in and I started calling the main switchboard of those media outlets.
Back then you couldn’t get through to journalists or editors directly unless you knew them personally.
On top of the calls I also sent out 60 cold emails with my press release attached.
Three months in and no person called me back or replied to my emails. Clearly the strategy wasn’t working or perhaps I was doing it all wrong.
Regardless I knew something had to change, all I needed was someone to open up the doors.
After that I was quite confident in my ability to turn those opportunities into media appearances.
A friend of mine suggested I work with a PR agency. With no other options under my belt, I thought why not it’s worth a try.
Over the course of the next few months I held meetings with four different PR Agencies.
All of them wanted to charge me an arm and a leg without any guarantees.
Not to mention that I wouldn’t get to keep the contacts I was being introduced to. Paying hefty fees and not being guaranteed media exposure didn’t seem like a great option to me.
Feeling a little dejected I had thoughts about packing it all in, maybe this whole personal branding thing wasn’t for me.
Then one night as I was driving home from work I got an email from a friend with the following subject line:
94.2% of journalists and editors are on LinkedIn.
Probably shouldn’t have been reading emails whilst driving but I am sure glad I did. It felt like all my prayers were answered. With new found confidence and a spring in my step, as soon as I arrived home I logged onto LinkedIn.
And started connecting with journalists and editors.
Truth be told I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.
All I had was a piece of paper with a list of publications I wanted to get featured in and a hunger not to stop until I was successful.
Fast forward to today, I’ve now been featured in 60+ major media publications.
I write for some of the largest publications in the world and have build up a network of over 300 connections in the media industry.
The best part of all this?
I did it without sending out a single press release or spending a cent on PR, all done by leveraging the power of LinkedIn.
So how did I achieve all this?
Well first and foremost I identified the top 3 publications I wanted to get featured in.
For me that list included Forbes, Sydney Morning Herald and Huffington Post. I then made a list of the top 3 publications my target market go to source industry and business information.
From there I visited those publications to find journalists and editors who were writing articles in and around my area of expertise.
So for example, when I was looking to connect with journalists in Sydney Morning Herald, I would click on the business tab.
I would then click through on the ‘Small Business’ tab.
From there I would then choose the ‘Entrepreneurship’ tab.
This would then take me to a page where there is a list of articles in that category.
And from this page, all I needed to do is simply scroll through the articles from top to bottom and open up each one in a new tab.
At the top left hand side of the article it lists the name of the person who’s written the article.
I would simply copy that name and paste it into the search field within my LinkedIn account.
From the list of potential contacts under that search, I simply choose the one that is most accurate or closest to the description of the person I am looking for.
Once I’ve found that person, I click through to their profile.
From there I click on the connect button, personalise my message and send them an invitation to connect.
Here’s an example of a script you could use:
Once they connect with me I simply continue adding value and get to know them.
I usually start off with a message thanking them for connecting with me. Then I let them know that I’m here should they need anything like an introduction etc.
I resisted the temptation and stayed away from tacky sales pitches.
Everyone else is doing that and it’s not a way of building a long term relationship.
Once I’ve sent them that message I start engaging with their posts on LinkedIn. I regularly share my own content as this will now show up in their newsfeed.
I also touch base with them every so often through an email or LinkedIn message.
This is to see how I could potentially add value to them and what they’re currently working on.
Most journalists, contributors and editors face 3 main challenges:
- Sick and tired of press releases
- They don’t have access to key experts
- Time poor
So I looked for ways on how I could solve those challenges through the relationship building process. Over time I built a network of contacts in the media who knew and trust me.
This in time results in them reaching out to me the next time they need someone to comment or feature in their articles.
So there you have it..
A simple yet effective strategy for getting mass media coverage and building your influence through LinkedIn.
I look forward to seeing your article in Forbes, send me a link once it up.
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