Press coverage is one of the most appealing forms of marketing out there. It helps new clients learn about you and positions you as a thought leader. . .for free!
Press opportunities are so alluring that we can believe they are magic. We can even think that we’ll never have to worry about how to get new clients again if we are just featured in a few articles. I have definitely fallen into this line of thinking, and learned the hard way that media mentions don’t always return the results you dream about.
The benefits of press are often less immediate and more nuanced than we think they might be, but they are still there. Getting featured in the press, particularly local or niche press, can help prospective clients learn more about who you are and what you do. You can also highlight press features on your site to show prospective clients “social proof” -- a fancy marketing term for evidence that others believe in your expertise.
The advantages of press coverage are compelling, but the process of getting it can seem complicated or unattainable. However, we at MyWellbeing are here as living proof that you can get press for your practice yourself, without hiring a PR person or spending all your time on outreach. Let’s walk through the process, together.
Wouldn’t it be great if reporters wrote to you asking you to be featured in their stories? Once you build relationships with reporters, some will reach out time and time again for help with their stories. In the meantime, you can use a journalist source email list to get press inquiries in your inbox.
At MyWellbeing, we love one of the most popular lists: Help a Reporter Out. Help a Reporter Out sends emails with tens or hundreds of journalists looking for sources three times per (week)day. Our therapists (and MyWellbeing) have gotten mentions in national publications by responding to media inquiries on HARO.
Journalists on HARO are typically looking for quotes (a few sentences on the topic they’re writing about) instead of features (a story specifically about you and your practice), but being quoted in national publications is a great way that you can start to build your credibility without press connections. You can also gain media backlinks to your site from quotes that will help your site show up in search results.
With HARO, you won’t be featured by every journalist that you reply to because there are so many people who have signed up to be sources. However, there are a few steps you can take to maximize your chances of being quoted:
Journalism is a high-pressure field; reporters are often working on multiple stories with extremely tight deadlines. They often need quotes as quickly as possible. To maximize your chances of being quoted, check HARO often and reply to inquiries as soon as you can write a helpful quote on the topic.
Replying to inquiries within an hour after they are sent gives you the best chance of making the final article. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reply if you see an inquiry later in the day, but it’s best to get your responses in quickly. Luckily, HARO sends their emails around the same time each day so you can even set aside ~10 minutes at the same time to respond when you are trying to get press coverage.
There are so many source inquiries in every HARO email and not all of them are relevant. When I am pressed for time, I use “CTRL” + “F” (“command” + “F” for all you Mac users) and search for terms I want to speak about, like “therapist,” “mental health,” “anxiety,” and “depression” to sift through the inquiries quickly.
It is daunting to respond so quickly to an inquiry from a journalist. I hope it gives you some peace of mind to learn that journalists are not looking for a full blog post or a conversation, unless they say otherwise. Most reporters on HARO will only be looking for a brief quote from sources.
Since reporters are so busy, you can best support them by being mindful of their time. If you send reporters a quote that they can pluck from your email and drop neatly into their article, they will likely use it. Keep your quotes pithy and short; 1-3 sentences typically fit best into articles.
In addition just sending a quote they can use, send reporters a brief bio, a link to your website if you have one, and a sentence giving them permission to use your quote in their story. This way, they have everything they need to feature you.
The downside of making it so easy for reporters to feature you is some Make quote you in their story without letting you know. You can track your press mentions for free using a backlink checker like Ahrefs, which shows you which other sites link to yours.
Source email lists like HARO can help you get your first press quotes and build your credibility as an expert in the mental health space. However, if you want to be featured in an article that focuses on you and your practice, you will likely have to reach out to journalists directly to pitch a story.
Never fear! We will walk through how to pitch your own stories:
The journey starts with thinking about how you can reach the people you most want to reach: your prospective clients. you can get really creative here. If you want to work with new moms to help them manage the life transitions of motherhood, a parenting blog or magazine might be the best place for you to reach future clients. if you work with entrepreneurs to help them optimize their performance without sacrificing your mental health, blogs, newspapers, and magazines like Inc and Entrepreneur might be the best place for you to reach new people.
It really is okay to be featured in a niche or a local publication. In fact, it can even be better than a national publication. All of the readers of a local publication could potentially work with you without any challenges of interstate licensing. Also, you may actually reach more people who are like your ideal client if you're speaking directly to one of their communities in print or on screen through niche media outlets.
That isn't to say you should ignore national publications. Prestigious outlets like the New York Times raise your credibility and help to establish you as an expert. You can also share your press mentions on your website to help show prospective clients that others see you as an expert, which can help convince them to move forward. however, we would recommend pursuing niche publications as well to maximize your chances of getting new clients from press coverage (and make it easier to get coverage).
Once you have a sense of which media your ideal client follows and a list of publications you want to reach out to, it's time to narrow your list to the specific reporters and editors you want to approach.
By reading or watching stories in your chosen publications, you can start to get a sense of which reporters cover your space. Many reporters have a specific “beat,” a subject area, in their reporting. You have the greatest chance of success if you pitch a reporter whose subject area covers your expertise. The more targeted and personalized you can make your message to a particular reporter, the more likely you are to be covered.
For example, if you are .reaching out to new moms, you would want to look for a reporter to parenting blog who has already written stories on the transition to parenting, or the mental health of new parents.
When you have identified a few reporters who cover your area of expertise, it’s time to find their contact information! Reporters want to hear from sources; their sources help them provide valuable insight about the world to their readers. Many reporters will make it easy for you to contact them, sharing their emails in their bio or Twitter.
Reporters will also often share how they would prefer to be contacted. Do the best you can to use the contact method that they prefer. if a journalist doesn't share a contact method, email is a widely accepted form of getting in touch.
You can pitch the same story to multiple reporters as long as you are honest that you are doing so. That said, reporters tend to be more excited about exclusives, and so it's worth a few extra minutes to shape a pitch to the subjects each reporter has written about.
The biggest trap people fall into when trying to get press coverage is forgetting that a pitch needs to make a good story. Reporters are looking for information that will help, delight, or captivate their readers. It is important to craft any store you pitch to interest the reporter and their readers. In short, your pitch has to be newsworthy.
This doesn't mean that you need to have a news story about your practice; in fact, it might be difficult to find a news story around your practice. A technique that will likely work better for you is something that people in the media business call newsjacking. In newsjacking, you highlight how you can use your expertise to contribute to a breaking news story.
For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has spawned a mental health crisis that has affected so many people across all walks of life. new parents are trying to figure out how to raise a child without the hands-on support that they may have expected from family and friends. entrepreneurs are making difficult decisions while trying to protect the mental health of their teams. there are so many people who have lost their jobs and are facing historic uncertainty. A reporter writing about any of these themes could benefit from working with a therapist like you to provide some helpful advice for readers in the same situation.
If you want to try newsjacking, we recommend picking a few different types of stories you could contribute to, and then introducing the different storylines to different reporters. One news story might resonate more than another, and trying multiple different stories at once can help you narrow down on the stories that most interest journalists faster.
Once you have your subject, it's time to write your pitch! As with responding to HARO inquiries, it is best to keep your pitch short. start with a brief subject line that shares the topic of your pitch; reporters get so many emails with the subject lines “pitch” or “press release” that your email could get lost in their inbox if you use a common subject.
There is no consensus on how long a pitch should be other than that it should be as short as possible. You should be able to explain your concept for a piece to a reporter in one sentence. You can even use bullet points to highlight some of the points they could make in their article. always be sure to follow any rules or advice that the publication shares on pitching their team.
Click “send” on your pitch and start on the next one!
Most journalists will get back to you within a day or two if they want to write your story and feature you. However, journalists’ inboxes are overflowing. If a reporter doesn’t reply to you, you can follow up after 3-4 days.
If a reporter doesn't reply after you follow up, it's best to move on. There are so many other reporters to reach, and so many other stories to pitch. Another story will break through.
Not every journalist will get back to you and it may take several emails or HARO responses for you to get your first press feature. Don't give up! With persistence, patience, and the lessons of your experiences, you will maximize your chances of reaching potential clients in the press, and helping journalists provide invaluable mental health support and information to the public.
Match with the *right* clients for your practice while growing your professional community.
Mariah was Head of Growth at MyWellbeing. She is a marketing expert in the areas of content strategy, digital advertising, business growth, and anything related to helping therapists grow their practice.