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How to Use Trending News to Grow Your Audience

If you're struggling to get press coverage for your business, don't worry. You're not alone. It's certainly not easy to get coverage from a major news outlet, so if you keep striking out, here's a new tactic you can try: attaching your work to what's already trending.

So, let's discuss "trending news" for a second.

It's important to note that because of the various algorithms, nobody sees the same media landscape anymore. Gone are the days of flipping through a paper over breakfast and going from 1A through each section. That doesn't mean your audience is gone. It actually means the opposite: a segmented audience presents the perfect opportunity for a highly-strategic approach. Instead of talking to a general audience who may only kind of remember you, you can get right in front of the people you need to speak to the most.

It's easier than ever before to find niche outlets and get in front of a very specific audience. These are people who are much more likely to support your cause or purchase your product.

So once you're in front of this highly-engaged audience, what should you do? Here's how to use trending news to grow your platform or business:

  1. Add something unique to the conversation: Not only does this make you more likely to be chosen for a comment, it also makes readers more likely to remember you, your contribution and, maybe, even what services you offer. Additionally, when you have a great statement, some social media users may even pull that quote to accompany a link they share.

  2. Latch onto positive news: For the most part, it's safer to be a part of "good" news or stories with feel-good angles. You don't have to worry as much about accidentally saying the wrong thing or angering some of your base. However, note that this isn't always the case for activist groups and those pushing for bigger change.

  3. Have your comments/statements ready: You can't predict every story, but if you're an expert in the field you probably know what's coming or what is popular anyway. Get your statements ready for holidays and commemorative days, looming legislation or even seasonal changes in your industry. For example, I once interned for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and a lot of politicians keep talking notes on several issues and pieces of legislation ready to go so that when a journalist reaches out they don't miss an opportunity for a placement.

  4. Plan ahead: Again, this will keep you organized. Instead of just preparing a statement, this time you're thinking about media, interviews, and ways to include the press. For example, if you're a retail business you may angle for stories on shopping and family time around the holiday season. Be creative!

  5. Write the story yourself: Some sites offer self-submission and that means you can add your angle to the newscape while also controlling more of the narrative. It's more work for you, but when done well can pay off in a more authentic story that includes the exact backlinks, images or video you need.

Overall, being a part of trending news has the potential to be more beneficial than a profile on just you. However, it's easy to misstep, so here are a few dont's:

  1. Don't latch onto deaths and bad news etc unless you have something positive to contribute. You don't want to be seen as someone using this misfortune for your benefit, particularly if you run a business! Unless you are an activist organization of some kind, or offering help, I would avoid issues like racism, social justice and community violence altogether.

  2. Don't just self-promote: This typically happens when you don't actually have much to contribute. The interview dissolves into promotional responses when really you want your work to speak for itself.

  3. Don't waste your time with news that's not relevant to your audience: It's easy to want to be everywhere at first and that is a good way to build a following, but it won't include as many customers because you didn't get in front of the right demographic. Some people may just find you interesting while others will see your services and wonder where you've been all this time. The latter is the people you actually want.

  4. Don't forget to share the links and coverage you receive: Once you get covered, don't just end it there. Save every single link, ask for video if you can and then share those on your website, social media and in any newsletters/email circles you have. For one, it shows people your growth, but for the outlets that covered you they'll see a spike in their views and be more likely to cover you in the future.

Trending news can seem daunting because it moves fast and the audience is incredibly vocal. However, if you're clear on your goals and strategy, you can ride these waves in an authentic way that grows your base. Dig deep into your own values and services and ask yourself: what's currently missing from this conversation?

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