How do you get tier one press? This is a question that I get a ton, everyone on the team hears it so many times. We have clients who come work with us and they’ve achieved some level of PR success, they’ve landed in industry publications or local publications, whatever it may be, but they’re really trying to crack that top tier one. And why? Because they know that’s going to give them that credibility with prospects. It gives them gravitas in their industry. It gets them invited to the customer table more often. They’re in consideration for bigger, better deals. So all these are really valid reasons to get tier one press.
Now, what is tier one? Tier one are publications that if I mentioned the name, you would know them. So generally they have such great brand visibility that people know them off the bat. They’re trusted names like Forbes and Entrepreneur, Inc, Fast Company, NPR, New York Times. When I say these names, you know who I’m talking about. These are solid, reputable, credible brands. And what our clients are often looking to do is get press in these top brands and get mentions and features because they know how much it moves the needle for them in their business.
So what’s the formula for getting tier one press? How do you break through? And I’m going to share that formula with you and it’s called winning. Okay. W-I-N, I love acronyms. I feel like it makes it really easy to remember. So let’s look at how you can win tier one press, because this is earned media. This is not advertising. This is not something you pay for. This is absolutely the purest form of great marketing. It’s not you telling people how great your brand is, it’s third party credible sources sharing your story if done right.
So the W is what’s in it for me? And so now I’m looking at it from the journalist perspective. You may have what you think is a great announcement, something you and your team are so excited about, but unless and until you can connect the dots for the reporter, for the publication covering it, you don’t win, because the idea is what’s in it for me. I’ll give you an example. One of our clients opened an amazing office/training center in Atlanta. This gentleman started with nothing, built up his company, started out of his apartment. Now this training center looks amazing. Now, how do we turn that into great press? Well, it can’t just be about the company, it’s got to connect the dots. Now, what we know is interesting for people though is as everyone is moving from this work from home remote, here’s a company going the other direction and they’re investing in an actual office space for their clients and their employees. So there alone is a story. It’s someone who is going against the trend.
Also, they’re creating some amazing jobs, this is one of the top employers in Atlanta. So it makes sense from that perspective of how they’re creating jobs. These are interesting angles for top tier one publications and this is how we were able to land them in NPR, because you have to connect those dots.
The I stands for invest. Listen, if you want tier one press, you have to either invest in those relationships yourself or work with someone who has them. Now, I know this is controversial because a lot of PR people, a lot of great PR people, will say it’s not about the relationships, relationships don’t matter, it’s just how good the story is. There’s only a half truth to that. What really does matter is trust when it comes to pitching media.
And now I’m going to speak to you from the other side, meaning I also write for… aside from running Zen Media, which is a PR marketing agency for great tech forward, tech driven B2B brands, I write for a lot of great tier one publications. I do a ton of national and international media on television as well. And what I’ll tell you is when someone pitches me and they have not taken the time to figure out what I write about or who I am, I don’t have a relationship with them, guess where they go on my table, on the stack of things that I have to do? Way low. They go really low on the stack because I don’t have that relationship with them.
Now, what do you think happens when someone pitches me and I have a relationship with them? I know they bring me great content, they’ve given me great stories, I trust that they do their homework. They know what’s valuable to my audience. They go here, they go top. It’s much easier for me because they’re making my life easier. I’m happy to publish with people that I know have great stories, they do their homework, they don’t represent anyone that would be considered not part of the biz-tech world. I know that they’ve vetted the sources that they’re bringing to me. They make my life easier. So you either have to invest in those relationships or work with someone who does invest in those relationships.
Now on the flip side, I can tell you that when we work with clients, often we will guarantee a number of placements. Now we won’t tell them where those placements will be, because that’s not something we can guarantee. But the reason we’re able to do it is because, one, we only take clients that we feel like we can actually land press for. Meaning they’re doing interesting things, there’s substance there. Two, we have relationships we leverage. Why? It’s not because reputable journalists are going to publish anything we give them, it doesn’t work that way. But because they trust us, they know that we bring them good stories, good content, good material. It’s a very synergistic, win-win type of relationship, and so relationships matter. You either have to invest the time in them or work with someone who does.
I can tell you the other day, I got a pitch from someone who said, “Oh, we’re launching this new product. Can you write about us?” And then they CC’d their PR person and I thought this was a terrible strategy because I don’t know the CEO. They clearly don’t know the rules of the game and the way it’s played and what’s necessary to get that placement. And guess what? I also never heard from their PR person again. So you really want to make sure that your reputation is on the line, that you are investing in those relationships and you’re playing the long game.
The N stands for news. That’s right. Whatever you’ve got going on, you’ve got to tie it into the greater ethos, meaning what is happening in the world. I can tell you that my team and I, we have a better pulse on what’s happening almost internationally around the world, because we have clients we get press for in Asia, in the Middle East, in Australia. So we always have to have a global sense of what’s happening because so much of what we do is connect those dots. So tying it in to the news cycle, what’s happening now.
In fact, if you go back and you’ll think of the toilet paper crisis that we faced in the US where the pandemic caused a great shortage of toilet paper and people were hoarding, all sorts of crazy stories and memes were out there. We actually got our supply chain clients, our clients who were tech driven B2B brands manufacturing, amazing press at that time because all of a sudden people were wondering why is there a lack of toilet paper? And it boils down to a supply chain crisis. And so connecting those dots anytime something is happening in the news is another way to land that tier one press. Hope this is helpful. As I always like to say guys, recall drives revenue. Nothing gives you better recall and credibility than landing in these top publications.