Headline Links: Getting Citations from News Sources

paper-danishFor those of us who aren’t celebrities, there’s always something a little exciting about getting mentioned in the newspaper. Unless your name turned up in the police blotter, you usually get the rush of pride that comes with knowing that other people are reading about you. It’s also a great way for a business to get a little spotlight and a website to get some link love.

Make the News

Press releases have changed a bit over the years. Back before there were widespread sites that let you “announce” everything from a name change to a new haircut, we used to rely on newspapers.

When something significant happened you’d have the PR department write up a little blurb that you’d ship off to the local paper. But when press releases grew as a link building method, their significance as a news resource shrank. If you simply post to a press release site when something new happens, you’re kinda missing out on the “press” part of the release.

It’s easy enough for brick-and-mortar businesses to relate to their local news sources. Whether they are moving in, moving out, launching a new product or holding a special event, the newspaper is a good place to promote it. It can also be a good place to get a little link traction.

Just keep in mind a few things:

  • Your news should genuinely be “newsworthy”: Focus your release on how your internal changes will impact your community. The broader the appeal the better chance you have of piquing interest. Getting featured is often a result of sending the right pitch, at the right time, to the right person.
  • Contact the appropriate person at the most appropriate paper: There may be a few different publications that are available in your area, but each one’s focus may be more targeted toward a particular city or county in the region. Look for the ones that place the most emphasis on your direct vicinity.
  • Get featured in a paper that has an online version: Most papers do now, so that’s a plus for your link building.
  • Avoid sites with paywall/subscriptions: The best papers for link building purposes are those that don’t require visitors to pay to read articles. If you need to sign in to read it, there’s a pretty good chance search engines are not subscribers, so they may not be picking up the link at all.
  • Ask for a link: A paper may decide to mention you or your business, but they may forget the link. If you find out your piece is getting run, check on that and make a polite request if necessary.

Online sites that have no geographical connection may have to get a little more creative. Look for the powerful papers, as in the one that cover large areas and get a lot of online attention.

If a paper gives links in their stories, and their pieces often pick up backlinks, that’s a great combination. Then find a way to connect one of your marketing efforts to a locality that is heavily covered by that publication.

Break the News

If you don’t like the idea of appealing to others to write about you, then you can always take a different approach. One of the most exciting, and rewarding ways to get into a paper is to break news on your own website.

Unless you torch a building or genetically engineer a hamster to do math, it’s hard to be the first one to capture something exciting. But who’s got time for arson and DNA manipulation? Fortunately, you probably have a few things going on with the potential to be worth attention.

First things first though: not everything you do is newsworthy. Information that a reporter might be able to spin into a story themselves is different from a new product release posted on your website. But stories that have broad appeal, real pathos or that connect your website to well-known locations or people might be picked up by other local news outlets.

  • New research, proprietary technology, charitable partnerships, and human interest pieces with a unique angle could all worth the attention of news sources, if the pieces are put together well. Just make sure that your news contains a component that illustrates how these events will affect the world outside of your company.
  • Having a blog is a great idea for any site if you use it well. And business blogging strategies are complex enough for a whole other post. So let’s just say that, blog content is most effective when it is salient to a broad group of people. Cast a wide net in terms of interest, and write for the people. The more current events you cover here, the more you go out of your way to feature real newsworthy developments, the better your chances will be of catching interest and links from other news outlets.
  • There are some excellent places to list your blog that can help you get more attention from major news sources like the New York Times, CNN, and Reuters. Mentions in these kinds of publications are the crown jewel of news citations (Unless you’re JCPenney, of course). Linking to articles on these websites doesn’t hurt either, especially CNN.

While you won’t always get hits on your blog posts, if you create quality work and play the game long enough you stand a decent chance. Even being quoted in a piece that isn’t about you is useful, especially if it comes with a link.

If you create and cultivate relationships with reporters, researchers and editors you have an even better opportunity to have your news noticed. You may not get the feature story that you wanted right away, but it could create opportunities to be quoted or referenced in future stories.

It’s not easy to be interesting enough to keep the attention of the media. Well, unless you have rich parents and ride around commando in limos. And it’s certainly not the easiest way to link build. But if you want quality links from trusted sources it definitely one area worth exploring.

The links you get from these kinds of sites also bring the extra benefits of brand exposure and credibility within your niche. Getting links from news sources will always remain a challenge, but there will always be a brand new chance to be newsworthy every day.

What are some of your strategies for being newsworthy and getting links from news outlets?

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