Introducing Cordy Griffiths, CEO of Ballou | Building brand awareness and engaging with the press

For any start-up, building brand awareness is one of the highest priorities on the to-do list. After building a great product that solves a lucrative problem, along with a world-class team to keep the momentum galloping along, getting your story out there is a key component of driving growth.

Strategically speaking, getting to grips with the matrix of earned, paid, shared and owned media channels to push out a brand’s story is often the first port of call for marketers. Engaging with the press is a fundamental element of maximising earned media and promoting your brand, but what does this mean exactly? How do you do it? And how do you go about it in a way that strategically drives business outcomes?

For any business, making sure the product is press-ready is a big part of this. Whilst this doesn’t necessarily mean journalists see the final version of what you put out to market on initial pitch, any potential weaknesses should be plugged before pitching out the story as failure to do so could irrevocably harm your brand.

This could mean making sure the bugs are ironed out, or peers/industry consultants have reviewed it and your business strategy, as well as securing the complete buy-in and trust of senior stakeholders, VCs and investors. A classic example of this was Windows Vista – a product launch where Microsoft lost control of the story due to rushing it out too early.

Second, developing a story around your business and product that resonates with your target media and audience is vital. In today’s hyper-competitive media landscape, the battle for clicks and attention is too fierce to ignore a strategic approach to telling your story. Pitching your story with an increased chance of pick-up requires a keen awareness of the journalist’s interests, the editorial line of the publication as well as an understanding of the publication’s audiences.

Content that provokes a reaction can also work well. Pitching a product that directly challenges the prevailing status quo in an industry, or packaging your brand’s story alongside some counter-intuitive research is the kind of thing that will make journalist’s ears perk up, increasing the likelihood of press pick up.

Third, defining your metrics for what brand awareness means is fundamental to make sure you’re on track with your efforts. That could be securing a front-page piece in the Wall Street Journal, seven pieces in assorted cloud technology publications in a two-month period, or a predetermined number of new business leads generated through your press activity. Ultimately, having your objectives in mind throughout will focus your organisation’s efforts, drive your brand awareness campaign and ultimately power your bottom line.

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