You are ready to share the good news of your product or service publicly. Or, you need to defend your company on some front. You or a spokesperson are ready to talk to the media. Now what?

Why Aim for Media Outreach?

Media outreach is a key component of public relations. Public relations is earned media: the media covers your company’s naturally occurring news, and you do not pay for this coverage. Earned media is in contrast to paid media, in which you buy ads or advertorials. In a nutshell, media outreach involves sending your news to editors and reporters, and contacting them via phone or email to see if they will attend and cover your event, or publish news you’ve provided in a press release or by some other format.

As part of media outreach, your public relations staff will craft a press release or a media alert (for an event). These written statements include all the pertinent facts and often comments from you or your representatives. Here are some tips for writing an effective press release, which can be run in full in a publication, legally. (It’s not plagiarism since you issued the release.) Or a reporter can craft his or her own story based on the release or alert you supplied. Hopefully, reporters will even contact you for more information to make a news story even more impactful.

Who Should You Contact?

In order for your outreach to be successful, you have to know who to contact with your news. You may already have an idea which regional reporters to contact. (You may want to avoid being lost in the shuffle at a national market publisher, such as the New York Times.) If your news pertains more to a niche industry than the general public, you need to reach out to trade publications. You can start by following some of them on social media to get a feel for their coverage. (While you’re there, remember to post your news directly on your company’s social media channels as well.) There are also paid ways to obtain robust media lists; check this article for ways to make the most out of of sending a press release.

Keep in mind members of the media may be looking for a company like yours or an expert like you for information from time to time. To encourage this contact, create a news section on your web site and give a contact name.

How Should You Reach Out to Media?

Beyond sending news releases from your personal email, an easy way to send graphically appealing info en masse is to use a third-party online email and contacts portal such as Constant Contact, or MailChimp.

According to an Entrepreneur.com article, it helps to become an expert in your field by blogging often and strategically speaking up on social media, with original content and re-posts. The article recommends staying in your lane, however. At least “generally be focused on your industry and trends,” it says.

When Should You Reach Out to Media?

Consider turning your relationship with the media into one where you don’t just get, but where you also give. Time announcements with major holidays, relate your company news with current events or address societal needs to help cut through the clutter. Further, you can “go where the cameras are,” according to the book “Public Relations For Dummies.” This can include a well-timed on-camera with your product in view, or a sponsorship of an event (albeit, that is typically not without financial cost to you).

One closing thought: While you should reach out to, and follow up with, the media on your announcements, don’t hound them mercilessly. They are working in a fast-paced environment and you don’t want them to unsubscribe from your news or stop taking your calls!

Be sure to check out our advice on press strategy and mistakes to avoid.