Turning Local Coverage, National News
Recently, Technica client PurThread Technologies was featured in the online pages of USA Today. This was excellent exposure for the company, but it did not happen over night. It was the culmination of strong business development, a two years of solid momentum building press, a bit of luck. Additionally, it would not have occurred if the company resisted the opportunity to gain local and trade exposure first.
In today’s media business, reporters are disappearing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted the industry will see a 13% decline in employment from 2012 and 2022. On top of that, it’s estimated that the ratio of reporters to PR professionals is 1:4.
To make up for the lack of staff and original reporting, outlets are increasingly sharing content from local regions and re-purposing the story for national audiences. When you read the USA Today article in full, the last item on the page is a notation that the reporter also writes for the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, located in upstate New York. When you compare the two articles side by side, their exact similarity is clear.
This is a also a common tactic for reporters to make a little extra money on a story already written and edited. My NPR All Things Considered report on urban land conservation is a typical example. Back in 2008, I sold this story four times to various outlets. By kindly suggesting that a local reporter might be able to re-purpose a story with a more national angle, companies can get a little extra mileage out of their local coverage.
The USA Today/Rochester Democrat article reports on the reemergence from bankruptcy of local employer Eastman Kodak and their new applications for their silver halide technology. Commonly used in photography, silver also has antimicrobial properties. The company was approached by PurThread on the potential to use their silver technology in medial and consumer fabric applications, such as scrubs and bed linens.
Extensive third party research on the effectiveness of the Kodak product in PurThread fabrics, and a published peer reviewed study likely gave Kodak the confidence to go public with the start up and the new applications for their silver technology. Collaboration and joint development agreements were signed and Technica and the Kodak PR Team worked together to get the word out. When the Kodak team sparked the interest of local Rochester reporter, it opened the door to a reprint in USA Today.
Appealing to the Masses
Mainstream consumer press are charged with reporting on stories with a broad reach and appeal, that are also well founded in science. Without the peer reviewed study, and the Kodak name recognition, PurThead’s ability to gain such exposure, would have required other big news, like a major deal with a large sports brand, endorsement by a celebrity or impressive research results on the effectiveness of their products in a real world clinical setting.
In the case of the USA Today story, it was the interest of a local company that caught the eye of the local reporter. Then it was the more consumer angle of a household name breaking into a completely different market that got the attention of USA Today editors.
The Road to the Mainstream
What start ups typically take for granted, is that to reach a mainstream audience they need serious technology stories with general consumer appeal and a bit of coverage in the local and trade press, as well as the strong media relationships a company like Technica Communications provides. Building up a list of coverage from smaller outlets shows mainstream reporters the company was worth someone else’s time, so it would worth theirs as well. Additionally, previous reports, make the research job of the mainstream reporter easier.
Serious technology angles that peak mainstream interest include:
- Venture funding over $5 million
- Peer reviewed research with a consumer implication or a well known third party
- Big news with a well established brand, preferably one average people would recognize
- New, never before seen technology that appeals to a wide consumer audience
- Out of the ordinary technology that has a very high “cool” factor
- Technology that solves a large problem in society that has already received a lot of coverage in the media and garnered emotional attraction by consumers
- Use of a technology in the field that raises impressive data that directly impacts mainstream society.
Every once and a while, Technica engages with a potential client who tells us they only want national coverage. As one start up CEO put it, “No trades and no local, I only want mainstream press.”
At Technica, we strive day in and day out to garner mainstream press for all of our clients. The road to achieving that goal depends on a variety of factors, both related to the business and to the larger conversations the media is already having around a certain topic.
However, building the right environment where mainstream coverage can flourish is a proven, systematic process. It starts with launching a company into the media, building momentum with evenly spaced new announcements (about every 6-8 weeks), and the growth of a long list of coverage. Gaining local and trade coverage gives start ups the opportunity to share their story and refine their messages. Additionally, it might be their only chance to be featured in television news reports. The coverage gives new reporters the opportunity to learn about the company quickly and do a little research before their own interview. Ultimately, you create such a body of work, that mainstream reporters can’t help but feel they are missing out on an important story.
A smart tactic for short cutting this process to the mainstream is peaking the interest of local reporters and leveraging their contacts in the press. Navigate this successfully and you’ll convert local excitement into national attention.