How often do you focus on your competitors? It might be more than you think. You might’ve set a Google Alert to track what mentions they’re getting, you might’ve crawled their website to see what’s going on at a technical level. Or, you might’ve done an entire audit based on your competitors with everything you’d ever want to know.
A competitor audit might include current rankings, an insight into backlink profile health, and some examples into great content. It’s during an investigation like this where you’re probably going to discover some opportunities that you want to get involved in.
One of the questions you might ask as you discover more about your competitors is “how did they get that backlink?”.
It’s OK, we all get link envy.
If the referring domain is a good one, it’s unlikely they just emailed them and said: “Hey, we’re cool, give us some link love”. So yeah, they either earned it naturally, or they did a little crafting to engineer things in their favour.
Enter the media request.
You’ve probably heard about media requests before, and it may be that you monitor #journorequest or similar hashtags on Twitter. But are you doing them justice?
In this post, I’ve answered some of the most common questions you might have about media requests. Hopefully you’ll soon be on the way to get the most out of these opportunities for press coverage, brand citations, and maybe even some precious backlinks.
What is a media request?
When a publication is putting together some content and they need an external source, they may put their request out to a wider pool of potential respondents. This might be done casually over social media, on a forum, or through a dedicated service.
The kind of requests you could expect to answer include:
- Do you agree or disagree with an angle?
- Have you done any studies that provide data to support an angle?
- Do you have any case studies?
What services exist?
ResponseSource – With a strong UK presence, there is usually a lot going through this service each day. You’ll find requests from plenty of freelance journalists, as well as some gems from media outlets with short deadlines. Along with this, bloggers also use this service to ask brands for products to review. You can tailor your subscription to only include the industry you’re interested in, meaning you only receive (potentially) relevant enquiries.
SourceBottle – This is a lesser known service, but operates more in Australia than in the UK and USA. However there is still the occasional request that might be up your street for a global publication. If you work with international clients, you’ll want to get on board with this free subscription service (especially if they’re based down under!).
Gorkana – Widely regarded as the place to go for a media database, this platform also allows users to see active media requests on their main dashboard. This won’t be the most affordable option for getting your daily dose of journalist queries, but it could be right for you if you also need access to other parts of the product set.
JournoRequests – Instead of having to manually trawl through the vast number of #journorequest Tweets, you can instead use this service to get a daily digest email sent to you for free. Epic. But if you want to be the first to respond to these types of request, especially if they have a short deadline, you might want to upgrade to the paid version.
Any brand can get involved with media requests, but there are different levels of investment depending on how much time and money you want to put into it. You should also remember that paying for a service doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get a whole heap of links.
OK, so how can I get the most out of these opportunities?
To maximise the chances of getting coverage and precious citations, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here are some of the things that journalists would want you to do:
Many media requests come with a specific deadline to meet copy creation and publication dates. Answer well before this deadline and you might get a better chance if you deliver the necessary information before others join the party.
Read the request properly
When a journalist or publication is looking for a source, they’ll know what they need and in what form. If you’re responding, meet these criteria first before you suggest something else they might find helpful. If you send a response which they don’t find helpful, you may be ignored in the future when the next opportunity is actually more suitable.
Give a full response
Journalists are busy people. They don’t want to receive emails responses that say “I know someone who could help you with this; are you interested?”. Skip that step, and go straight to the good stuff. This is your chance to plonk some amazing information, data and examples right in front of someone who needs it, so stay on topic and be succinct.
Avoid heavy sales copy
You’re not going to impress if you send over a sales spiel, so instead, keep your source information factual and helpful. You’ll have a chance to provide a quick one-liner about the person the quote or information can be attributed to, including their name, company and sometimes a link to a website or social media profile.
Can I submit my own request?
Aside from responding to requests to generate some brand authority, you can also submit requests yourself. You can actually do this for free on many of the services that exist.
The reason for putting in your own media requests is to gain relevant sources for your own content, or get expert input into something you want to share with the press.
I recently did this to crowdsource opinion on how exercise benefits productivity at work, and had a whole range of responses from personal trainers, wellness coaches, large corporations, and industry bodies. That piece of content was the best performing on the client’s website so far, as it shared a wider voice than their own.
How do you use media requests?
If you have any tips that might be helpful for the readers of State of Digital, be sure to get in touch with me on the comments below or on Twitter.
Are there any media request services that you swear by? Do you have further advice for putting together your journalist responses so they aren’t sent to the deleted items straight away? Let me know!