Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Entrepreneurs wear many hats — developing company strategy, providing leadership, staying on top of finances and building visibility for their enterprise. While many entrepreneurs are adept when it comes to leadership and finances, creating buzz around their company can be more of a challenge.

Getting attention from the right media outlets is not as simple as crafting a press release and blasting it far and wide. Or, sending a form email to journalists in the equivalent of a sales cold call. These tactics are not very effective in garnering the type of coverage that can help spread brand awareness. Building relationships is the core to securing the most meaningful and impactful coverage that will tell your brand’s story.

Entrepreneurs have great stories to tell about their companies but telling them in a way that effectively connects with and reaches target audiences requires a more strategic approach. The following are some tips for telling compelling stories that can help build a powerful company voice and presence in the market.

1. Work with a PR firm

Working with a PR (public relations) agency partner is important for helping companies navigate the nuances of building brand stories. PR firms are expert strategists and communicators. They are masters of defining and crafting company messaging, shaping narratives and developing company stories that resonate with a client’s target audience. PR firms understand the media landscape and have the connections that can get their clients in front of the right journalists and industry influencers.

Before hiring a PR firm, entrepreneurs should assess whether or not their company has established the vision and identity to start telling their brand stories. If the company is ready for prime time, hiring a PR firm is the next step. Hiring the right one involves finding a firm that is knowledgeable and passionate about the company’s industry and product/service category. The PR firm will act as an extension of the company team and is compatible with the company team. The firm has strong, positive relationships with media and are creative strategists that can think outside of the box.

The right firm can assist entrepreneurs in targeting the right audiences, developing compelling company stories and building relationships with key media and influencers.

Related: What Franchises Should Know Before Hiring a PR Firm

2. Know the audience(s)

Another critical aspect to successfully pitching company stories relates to really knowing the target audience(s). Find out what they value and understand — their motivations, wants and needs. Focusing on target audiences at a granular level is integral to telling brand stories that build relationships and keep people engaged.

Telling stories that audiences want to know about is just the first step. Finding out how to reach them is the second. That involves determining what the target audience is listening to, reading and watching. Having this insight is critical to developing, tailoring and pitching company stories that are relevant and engaging — two criteria that help journalists understand the value of the story to the audience.

3. Develop compelling company stories

There are several essential elements of powerful brand storytelling. The mark of a good story is one that has a human element that incites emotion or connects to a wider industry trend. Or, provides data that gives context to emerging trends and reveals something new. Finding just the right company story angle to pitch has significant potential to result in media coverage.

In fact, according to the State of Journalism 2021 report by Muck Rack, 50 percent of journalists surveyed write more than five stories a week. And, 61 percent of journalists said about a quarter of their stories originate from pitches.

Related: 4 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Should Tell Their Stories in Real Time

4. Build relationships

As previously noted, the throw it up against a wall and hope it sticks approach to pitching brand stories doesn’t always work. What does prove most successful is building relationships with journalists that lay a solid foundation for successfully pitching company stories. This takes time and effort but pays off in meaningful coverage that elevates brand voice and visibility.

Entrepreneurs and their PR firms should work together to build relationships with media, establishing and nurturing connections and creating trust.

Begin building the relationship by checking in with reporters from time to time on what stories they are currently working on and offer to be a resource. Relationship building with reporters can also involve one-on-one meetings over coffee, lunch or deskside meetings at the journalist’s office.

Take an active interest in what they are writing and comment on their stories with a compliment, thought or different perspective on the piece. Engage with journalists by following them on social media, commenting on and/or liking their posts and sharing relevant posts and articles.

Making the time and effort to establish connections and build trust with journalists will pay dividends by increasing the likelihood that they will consider covering company stories.

Related: Dear Startups, Please Don’t Do This to Journalists

There is a lot of noise in the marketplace today and intense competition for visibility. Entrepreneurs that take a strategic approach to pitching brand stories will break through the noise, build their voice and elevate their brand.    

This article is from Entrepreneur.com

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