When you’re seeking information on a product you’re considering or company you may want to work with, where do you look? If you’re like most people, you probably start by asking personal connections and researching on the internet. After coming across various web pages, are you more likely to trust what a company writes about itself or what others write about the company? Furthermore, if you’re comparing two companies and one is clearly more involved in the public conversation via the media and other channels, which are you more likely to trust? Most people would place their trust in the business that seems more active in the discussion, both in terms of being talked about, but also talking publicly themselves. The same goes for tax and accounting practices and the prospects researching them online. This phenomenon is known as social proof, and it comes down to human beings essentially giving more credibility to things or people who are also seen as credible by others. It’s a massive spiral that can give a business major momentum — once they get the ball rolling, that is. One of the best ways to start building social proof is to increase the number of times and places in which your name and expertise are discussed online, since that all shows up in a Google search. Getting quoted (or interviewed) by the press checks all these boxes, and all it takes is a bit of a time investment, some relationship-building, and a story to tell... Here’s how to make it happen.
Media Strategy A: The Cold Pitch
1. Find the news outlets and journalists you want to work with.
As you know from being in professional services, it takes time to build rapport with the people you may want to collaborate with in the future. Work to create a media list by identifying the names and contact information of newspapers, TV and radio stations, and websites. Start local and try to build a comprehensive list from your county and adjacent counties as well. Keep in mind that the current media landscape in the U.S. is very different than it once was. Many news outlets may be entirely online, and other non-traditional forms of media — like blogs, community publications, and even Facebook groups — could be prevalent in your area. Thorough research is key here. Once you have your list of media, make sure you know which specific contacts you want to target. Take the time to look into which journalists have written on the subjects you want to pitch or offer expertise on and look for their contact info on the company’s website or their past articles. No luck there? Try connecting on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter, or even calling the media outlet to just ask for their information.
2. Get your pitch ready.
Once you have your list of media contacts and have started connecting with them, it’s time to prepare your pitch. (Note: this situation is applicable if you are coming in similar to a cold call in sales, i.e. no one reached out to you first or posted a request for sources online.) Not sure what article subject you should pitch to the journalist? Here are some ideas:
- Who must file a tax return?
- The benefits of filing a return (tax credits)
- What happened when a taxpayer doesn’t file
- The benefits of hiring a professional
- How California's law on who is an independent contractor affects businesses and taxpayers alike
- Upcoming due dates, when filing starts, tax deadlines, etc.
- Small business trends in your area
- A spotlight on one of your business clients who is doing something good for the community
- Tax tips for the gig economy
- Tax tips for the remote workforce
- Tax tips for the self-employed
- How AI is helping accountants do a better job
Use the contact information you obtained on your media list to start sending your pitch out, and include the expertise you have to offer. Here’s an example of a pitch email you could send:
I am Lee Reams Sr., a Newport Beach-based Enrolled Agent and tax expert.
The IRS recently released an updated W-4 withholding form, and I thought taxpayer confusion and withholding tips would make a great new story for you and your readers. I would love to be your source on the background and ways taxpayers can adequately set their withholding in 2020.
Take a look at my blog and bio for my background and experience, and feel free to contact me directly.
Some media outlets will even have tip submission pages where you can get in touch with their news staff directly: https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/have-a-news-tip/https://www.ocregister.com/share-your-news/https://chicago.cbslocal.com/tips/ Remember to be respectful of the journalist’s time, and keep your cool when and if you receive a “No” — that’s just a normal part of cold calling.
Media Strategy B: The Expert Source
In some cases, you won’t need to approach a media pitch like a cold call because the journalist or news outlet will come to you. Well, maybe not directly to you. But it’s helpful to know where to be on the lookout for these opportunities to be a source. One of the most popular ways to get quoted in various forms of media is through Help A Reporter Out, or HARO. Reporters use HARO to find people to feature in their stories, covering just about every subject you can imagine and including some huge media names, like The New York Times, Reuters, and Time. Each day, journalists submit their queries to HARO regarding the stories they’re working on and what kind of sources they’re looking for. HARO then sends three email blasts to people on their lists (like you) in the morning, afternoon, and evening. To submit a response to a query, you simply use the email address provided and send them your answer and any additional requested information directly in the body of the email. HARO has more than 55,000 journalists and bloggers submitting queries, so there are endless opportunities to become a source for a huge range of publications. Plus, the queries are divided into sections — so, for example, you could focus on the “Business & Finance” list when responding for your tax and accounting practice. The most important thing is to actually read the emails. The deadlines for sending a response are generally pretty short, so make sure you check all the queries as soon as they hit your inbox and reply where you can offer expertise. The boost in social proof (along with SEO benefits!) will start to show from then on.
Bonus Tips to Get Quoted
Outside of these two strategies, here are a few best practices to ensure you’re setting yourself up for success with the media: Build a content creation habit – If you are consistently pumping out exceptional content of your own, it’s more likely that others will start picking up those ideas and linking to your pages from their sites. Prioritize writing relevant, accurate, and engaging content for your blog and it will increase your credibility in the public eye. Don’t have time to write new articles every week? CountingWorks PRO can do it for you. Create a media kit or response template – If a journalist does reach out to you directly, make sure your practice is prepared to respond in a timely fashion. This could mean having a media kit designed that you can send to anyone requesting more information on you, or simply a template for how anyone at your practice should respond to media inquiries. Preparation is key. Don’t forget to use media to promote events or specific news about your practice – Pitching articles with tax and accounting advice or other subjects not directly tied to your practice isn’t the only way. Are you hosting any events soon or offering pro bono work? Maybe a meetup for local small business owners or a first-time-filer tax workshop? Let the media know! This is a great way to build your name up among media partners while also getting the word out about your event to other people in the community. No matter how you choose to go about it, getting quoted in the press is an effective way to build social proof, boost your reputation online, and get your name seen by more prospective clients.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about getting quoted in the media, contact us today at 1-800-442-2477 x3 or set up some time to speak with one of our digital marketing experts. We’re here to help!