How to Pass the Google Analytics IQ Exam in 2016

By | Digital Marketing, How-To, Strategy, Tools | 8 Comments

Predicting trends for 2016 have been the focal point of feeds for weeks and there isn’t a better time than now to focus on attainable goals for the present. Here’s one you can begin to check off today:

Take the next two weeks to study for the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ) Exam and get certified!

Whether you’re new to digital marketing, or a seasoned guru needing to brush up your credentials to impress clients or C-suites, passing the GAIQ exam is a great demonstration of proficiency and will allow you to better leverage Analytics within your business or agency.

You might have already come across some resourceful guides that demonstrate how to prepare for the exam in a matter of days. Success in such a short time will depend greatly on your previous knowledge and experience using Analytics.

As a GA novice, I found two weeks to provide just the right amount of study-time to get a comprehensive grasp on the content, without leaving a large enough time gap for having to relearn previous material.

Here’s the breakdown of how I studied for the GAIQ exam, while keeping my eyes dry the entire time, and passed!

The Logistics

  • 70 Questions
  • 90 Minutes
  • 80% in order to pass. You must answer 56 questions correctly.
  • Valid for 18 months.
  • Questions will come in forms of Multiple Choice and True/False.

** You will find that in Google’s provided course material below, some Multiple Choice questions will come in the form; Check all that apply, meaning that if 3 answers for a single question apply, and you select 2 only, then your answer for the entire question is incorrect. The actual GAIQ exam is much more straightforward than this, providing 1 correct answer only for each question. Whew!

G exam


What’s Changed?

  • No Charge. The GAIQ exam is completely free
  • No Badge. Instead of a completion badge, you may print your personalized certificate or promote it on your Google Partners profile page.
  • No Revisiting. Questions appear in sequential order and once you have selected an answer, you will not be able to return to the question.
  • No Discouragement. You may retake the exam 7 days after the initial attempt if need be.

The Essentials

While Google Partners offers four courses of actionable material pertaining to Analytics, the bread and butter of the exam are within the first two courses. Be sure to know these well: Digital Analytics Fundamentals and Google Analytics Platform Principles.

Each course consists of a series of Units, with corresponding Activities and a Final Assessment. The units are somewhat lengthy and full of video content (you can opt for the text transcript version if you’d like).

Do take the time to absorb the content of each course in its entirety and take notes; you will be thanking yourself later. Here is an sample 2 week study calendar that helped me to stay on track:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Week 1 D.A.Fund

Units 1&2


Units 3&4


Unit 5


Unit 6

Final Assessment
Week 2 Platform Principles

Units 1&2

Platform Principles Unit 3 Platform Principles Unit 4 Final Assessment Take GAIQ Exam

What You’ll See: 

You can almost guarantee to see these topics, covered in the Digital Analytics Fundamentals and Platform Principles courses, on the exam:

 Attribution Models: 

Understand the overviewLast Interaction. Last Non-Direct Click. Last AdWords Click. First Interaction. Linear. Time Decay. Position Based.

Analytics Tracking: 

Know how Google tracks via mobile, desktop, or other digitally connected device. Where do you place the GA tracking code on a site?

Types of Goals:

Goal types are Destination. Duration. Pages/Screens per session. Event. Why define a Goal Value for non-ecomm websites?

Campaign Tracking:  

Practice using the URL BuilderDestination URL. Source. Medium. Campaign Name. Campaign Content. Know the mediums auto-tracked by Analytics vs. mediums needing manual tagging.

Analytics Process & Structure:

The process flows in this order: Collection. Configuration & Processing. Reporting. Understand how configuration and processing coincide. Structure from top to bottom looks like this: Account- Properties- Views


Image Source: Analytics Academy 

Importing Data to GA:

Brush up on these concepts: Account Linking. Data Import.Dimension widening. Cost data import.

Dimensions and Metrics:

Know the difference between dimensions and metrics and understand scope.

Reporting Tools:

Be sure to get these common reporting tasks down: Date comparison. Table filter. Table sort. Plot rows. Primary dimension. Secondary dimension. Pie chart. Pivot table.

Behavior Reports:

Dig into the Behavior Flow of your Analytics for this one and explore Site Content: All Pages. Content Drilldown. Landing Pages. Exit Pages. Site Speed. Site Search. Events.


What Threw Me:

These few topics didn’t stand out as much to me throughout the course material. Be sure to brush up on the following:

Measurement Protocol:

Developers can measure how users interact with their business from almost any environment.


Know these two types of alerts: Auto Alerts vs. Customer Alerts.

Real Time:

Understand the capabilities and limitations to monitoring instant web activity.

Site Speed:

Know the Site Speed reports metrics measured.

Had Enough?


After 2 weeks of being anchored to the fundamentals and principles of Analytics, you are as prepared as you’ll ever be, so don’t stress! Open up Google Partners in Chrome. Sign up if you haven’t already.

In a separate browser, leave open your notes and an active Google Analytics account, if you have one, or use the one you set up as part of the practice courses. Take a deep breath, and begin!

To help set a mellow, relaxed mood, I went for the Study Time Starts Now playlist. 

Get in your zone and let Google track your time and progress in the bottom corners of the test screen.

 Best of luck to you!

As always, Stryde is here for any web traffic, content, or specific Analytics questions you may have regarding your ecommerce or lead generation site.

What are your study tactics for the GAIQ exam? Let us know in the comments below!

The Keyword Challenge on SEOchat | How to Compete for Your Site’s Searchability

By | How-To, SEO, SEOchat, Strategy, Tools | No Comments

Keyword research, grouping, implementation, tracking, and measurement can certainly sound like an uphill challenge, but its also the starting platform for any online marketing campaign. The competition for being found by your top keywords can be steep but getting a grasp on new tools and tactics from other professionals can make all the difference for a steady climb to greater organic search outcomes.

Stryde administers a weekly Twitter chat Thursday at 1 pm ET for marketing pros and padwans alike, to openly discuss their strategic approaches and tips to digital marketing success. In a friendly space, we share and learn from one another about the trends and updates in SEO and marketing.

Last week’s #SEOchat discussed how to use keywords to compete for your site’s searchability. Knowing the exact terms that your audience is searching for allows you to optimize your content for better search visibility across all channels. Keyword insights can also reveal where you rank next to your competitors. In case you missed out, or would like a recap, here are the highlights from what we covered on #SEOchat:

Question 1: When starting off on a brand new SEO campaign, at what point does keyword research come into play?

Question 2: What are your favorite tools for finding keywords and phrases that you are already ranking for?

Question 3: How do scale the competitiveness of keywords for which you would like your brand to be found?

Everyone shouting out to SEMrush>>

Question 4: What factors do you consider in determining whether SEO or PPC is best to put your brand/clients’ dollars toward?


We skipped right ahead to…

Backtrack to Q6, keeping everyone on their toes…

Question 6: What is the average life of your kw list used across content, social media, & link-building?

Flash forward to Q8… no whiplash intended

SEO is always changing. Let’s keep each other up to date through chat! Be a part of it every Thursday at 1 pm ET. Find us at #SEOchat!


What topic would like to see on #SEOchat? Comment below and we’ll chat soon!

STRYDE | Adaptive Content-  The Latest Adaptation of Content Marketing?

Adaptive Content- The Latest Adaptation of Content Marketing?

By | Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Food for thought, Our Process, Strategy, Uncategorized | No Comments

While the technology support can be a little slow to evolve, content marketing strategies and techniques are taking new shapes to identify the ideal target audience and to guide customers through a shortened sales cycle.

Adaptive content offers an edge to the creation and distribution parts of the process. This content strategy is designed to support meaningful, personalized interactions across all channels. Moreover, it’s not a strategy that is built only around the characteristics, goals, and challenges of buyer personas, but also around the mood of the buyer – Noz Urbina.

We know that personalization is key to reaching the ideal buyer. In fact, 94% of businesses say that it’s critical to their success. Here, we begin to merge a closer union between the buyer persona and sales cycle, in an attempt to reach a target so narrow, that we can understand how it feels.

The Matrix

If you already have a few content marketing campaigns under your belt, you’re probably all too familiar with creating and marketing to buyer personas. With adaptive content, there are a few more variables to consider in the Content Mix Matrix:

Content Mix Matrix
Personas Buying Stage Format Channel
Billy Awareness Text Social
Willey Attraction Video Mobile
Nilly Close Podcast Websites
Tilly Retain Infographic Email
Advocate Images Print
Presentation In-person

In this model, the content catered to the buyer persona is strategically created in the most sensible format, at the most relevant stage of the buying cycle, and distributed through the most appropriate channel.

In the content creation process, you might consider:

  • Is it better to start with a general piece of content and to later personalize it to each persona at every stage?
  • Should I start with a fleshed out piece of content and then notate which segments will be adapted to fit the next format?

This is the manual part of the equation that requires more in-depth research into, not only the buyer personas’ characteristics, but also, their personal journey and it’s up for you, the marketer, to decide what works best for your audience.

Going Green

Putting an adaptive content process into place can take a substantial amount of time but the beauty of it is that, when planned properly, adaptive content has the means to be evergreen. We have to remember to apply the R’s and when it comes to content, we do it in a most creative and practical way.


The amount of time spent on content creation can be greatly reduced when you already have a hearty piece to edit and adjust. Slim down the content that you have and focus it on just one phase of the buying cycle. The load will feel a lot lighter.


The content topics you already have are completely reusable when you promote them through a variety of channels. Social media, for instance, can serve as a great outlet for reshares; especially Twitter, where posts tend to be pushed out more regularly.


You can further stretch the reach of your content by repurposing it in various forms. Try going for something more visual by converting a whitepaper into an eye-catching infographic.


Once you have a good grasp on where your buyer personas are in the buying stage and the best channels by which to to reach them, be sure to record and recycle the process. It will always be in motion, so be flexible and make the necessary adjustments as you go along.

Adaptive Content implicates techniques that are too smart and too personalized for any tool to master alone. It is a practice that will take time to put into place, but with a clearly defined strategy and a good grasp of its fundamentals, it has the potential to be one of the most personal and powerful marketing practices yet.

Online marketing practices are always evolving. What are you seeing for the future of content marketing and how will you adapt for what’s to come?
We’d love to hear your thoughts!

STRYDE | Nurturing the Sales Funnel Using Social Media (Infographic) 2

Nurturing the Sales Funnel Using Social Media (Infographic)

By | Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Social Media, Strategy | No Comments

Social media is taking the marketing world by storm. It’s crowded, competitive, but if you do it right, it’s golden.

Haven’t formulated a strategy for your businesses’ social media accounts yet? To successfully capture leads you need a fully developed plan, not a half-hearted attempt to be semi-visible.

To nurture your company’s sales funnel using social media, consider the following:

Awareness through repeat visibility.

Interest through engagement.

Conversion achieved through landing pages.

Sales through targeting new leads.

Loyalty through repeat visibility and engagement.

Easier said than done. So what’s the next step for you and your company? Put your strategy into action by following the funnel recommended in this insightful infographic.



New Year’s Resolutions Are For Businesses Too

By | Random, Strategy | No Comments

New Year’s resolutions are about as realistic as telling yourself you won’t eat too much on Thanksgiving.

But when it comes to our business, goals have to be made, strategized, and achieved. According to, over half of small companies don’t keep track of their business goals and have yet to achieve their vision. With the start of a new year, don’t let this happen to you.

Screenshot 2015-01-02 12.22.36

New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be just a pointless revenue projection, but they don’t have to be complicated either. The key to realistic goal-setting is to simply identify 1) your company’s greatest weakness and 2) what you are going to do to improve it.

So take a look at the top five most repeated New Year’s resolutions ever made and see how they fit in with your business strategy. Decide which goal you think will impact the bottom line most and go for it.

1) Exercise More

No we’re not talking about company outings to pump iron at the gym. We’re talking about toning up your strategy!

Have you let your social media accounts die? Are your 2014 SEO efforts now collecting dust? What areas of your marketing techniques have you allowed to “let go” and gain flab?

Maybe what your business needs most this year is an in-depth look at what assets you already have that you could be utilizing better. You may have an incredibly designed website that people aren’t able to find, or a growing email list that isn’t being put to use.

Take Volkswagon for example. They inspired 2,700 car recommendations in four weeks with just a LinkedIn campaign.

2) Cut Out the Sweets

This will help with the whole exercising thing – cutting out the excess fluff and focusing on what really matters. What aspects of your marketing didn’t produce many results for your company? Either cut them out or replace the “ingredients” of your strategy with “healthy” ones (code for come up with a better strategy!).

Where could your company bear to lose some weight? Cut out what you don’t need. For some, this may mean cutting down on meetings – less strategizing and more implementing. For others, it may be that their presence on Twitter is doing them absolutely no good. Who says you have to be on Twitter? Don’t devote company time and energy towards something if it’s not helping you achieve your vision, no matter what the experts say.

You know your company better than anyone. Trust your instincts and either cut out the aspects of your marketing that aren’t producing results or redefine them.

3) Be Nicer

Overall, your company should leave a positive impression on people. Everyone who comes across your brand may not buy your product, but at least you are leaving a positive taste in their mouth. Organizations that need to focus 2015 on being “nicer” are those that could use improvement in areas such as:

  • Social Media: Don’t overwhelm your audience with self-promotional posts, which comes across as salesy and boring.
  • Customer Service: Amp it up a notch. A customer who comes mad but leaves happy is more important than a neutral one.
  • Employee Satisfaction: Focus on making your work environment a more enjoyable one. Reward your employees for their successes.
  • Public Relations: A business that doesn’t get involved lacks a certain depth. You are more than just a product, so let the public know too.

4) Get Organized

Sometimes what your business needs most is a simple clean up of your processes. It may be time to figure out where your bottlenecks are and assess how they can be tweaked to improve your working system as a whole. You may need to add more people to your design team to keep up with requests, or you may even decide to outsource the design talent as a whole.

To quote the old comic strip, Pogo: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Sometimes the worst bottlenecks are personal ones – do you ever feel like you spend half of your day reading and answering emails? No one told you emails alone would be a part-time job.

If you can’t make major changes to the company’s system as a whole, make personal changes. For example, set aside 2-3 specific times during the day as your “email time”. Instead of checking your inbox every 10 minutes throughout the day, set aside a specific time for emails and focus the rest of your day on what really matters: work.

5) Spend Less, Save More

This is a tricky one. Maybe you’ve already mastered resolutions 1-4, but are stuck on the age-old problem of spending more than you make. No one likes to talk about lay-offs or budget cutbacks or less fancy employee Christmas parties, but at the end of the day your business is all about, well… business. And keeping it around. So you do what you have to do.

And you aren’t alone – many large corporations such as Ford, American Express, and even Google have announced major layoffs this past year. For a company with 2015 goals focused on budgeting you may not keep everyone happy, but you may keep your business.   So buckle down and map out your gameplan.

Which New Year’s resolution rang true for you and your company’s needs? Choose the one area that resonated most with you and get to work.

How Visibility and Clarity Can Increase Traffic and Customer Engagement by 145%

By | Conversion, Strategy, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
This is a guest post written by Kyle Gray of Conversion Cake.
Follow Kyle at Google+

Problem: new services page, a products page taking most of the traffic.

We were very excited to be working with ArmorActive. They had an excellent product and team working for them. ArmorActive sells enclosures for tablets; cases that can convert various kind of tablets into cash registers, interfaces, signs etc.  They were in the process of expanding on their offer by adding additional services and software to give a complete solution. Their services offered everything from procuring tablets, software, mobile device management, and completely customized enclosures. They also offered a pdf catalog as a lead capture tool. Lead capture was a critical function of their website, their sales team had a good track record so once they got a qualified lead on the phone, they worked their magic.

Despite this fantastic supplement to their hard product, most of their traffic was still flowing to their products page. We decided this was a perfect place to start running some tests and see if we could improve some clickthroughs to their services.

When assessing a website for underperforming areas, we prioritize three things. Clarity, Legitimacy, and Visibility.


Many marketers favor fancy copy over a clear simple message. This often only serves to confuse your visitors and stifle their decision making process by making them think. Clear copy keeps visitors engaged in your offer.


Trust is essential in all relationships, especially online. Demonstrating your legitimacy builds trust and keeps your visitors moving forward on your site. But since they have a picture of LeBron James rocking a their product for every shoe in his store, we won’t need to worry about legitimacy on this one.


This is a close relative to clarity, and should be obvious. If your visitors can’t see the critical button/product/form on your site, then it does not matter how clear to legitimate it is. You have a matter of seconds to capture and keep your visitors attention so make it easy for them to see what you want them to see.

Their homepage slider had two images directing visitors to the services section, one highlighting individual services and the other highlighting the services bundle. They called this bundle “the business in a box” based on the idea that it was a total solution for your business. We found this to be a little misleading and unclear what it really was. So we changed it to “All-in-One Solutions for your business”

A second treatment to increase clicks on that catalog button was moving the button from the top right of the page, to right below the slider. We ran an eye test using attention wizard and we found that it was not catching enough attention.

We increased its size and changed the call to action from “Catalog” to “Free Catalog Download” for a nice one-two punch of visibility and clarity improvement.

So what happened?

After nearly a month of testing we saw a nice 65% increase in traffic to the services page with a 96% statistical certainty.

We reported a very nice 146% percent increase in clicks on the catalog button with 100% certainty.

We used Visual Website Optimizer to run these tests.


Your website’s have very short attention spans, and are likely to miss your offer if it does not make sense or if they have to look hard to find it. Make sure the language you use to drive visitors to your pages communicates clearly the value of your offer. And make sure they can see it.

Do Your Calls to Action Suck? Try These Tips to Lift Conversions

By | Conversion, Email Marketing, Strategy | No Comments

Finding the very best Call to Action (CTA) for your site can mean a huge lift in your current conversion rate.

Whether you’re trying to get someone to subscribe to your email list, submit a lead gen form or make a purchase, having a strong CTA is vitally important.

The bad news is that you could have an infinite number of brainstorming sessions, hire the very best marketer money can buy and still not come up with the very best CTA.

The good news is that you don’t need to waste time in brainstorming sessions or spend a lot of money on Don Draper. All you need to do is allow your website visitors to show you which CTA they respond to best.

How? Through a/b testing!

If you’re not already familiar with a/b testing learn all about it in this guide from Visual Website Optimizer.

I promised that you wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time brainstorming CTAs, and I will stand true to my word.

Instead of coming up with two different CTAs to test against each other on your own, I have pulled together some examples that you can copy for your a/b tests.

1. Email Subscription CTAs

Whether you blog for business or pleasure, you probably include a little signup box that allows readers to submit their email address to receive updates in their inbox.

What does your CTA button to kickstart this process look like?

Do you go with the standard “subscribe”?

Or maybe a lengthier “subscribe to the blog?”

And what does the header above the form say? Do you just flat out say “subscribe to blog via email” or do you use a benefit-driven headline such as “Subscribe to our conversion blog for optimization tips”?

Using a benefit driven CTA can really boost the number of people who respond.

When BettingExpert a/b tested their signup form they were able to increase conversions by 31.54% through the use of a more benefit-driven CTA.

But before you jump to conclusions and start changing your forms based on BettingExpert’s results, know that there are plenty of other options that can also increase your email subscription rates.

For example, you can use social proof on or near your subscription form to increase conversions like ProBlogger and Convince and Convert do.

Social Proof is a marketing concept rooted in psychology that says people are more likely to do something if they see others doing it.

By showing that over 23,100 other readers are subscribed to their newsletter, ProBlogger entices other to sign up so they are not left out.

As you can see there is no single way to present an email subscription CTA. There’s also no way to know which option will work best for your website visitors without a/b testing.

2. Lead Generation CTAs

When it comes to the CTAs you use on your lead generation forms, you may be thinking that a simple “download” or “submit” button will work to convert visitors.

That may be true, but really the only way to know is to test it.

For example, might the “Download Now” convert more visitors than “Download Guide”?


And what about that traditional grey submit button… is it converting the max amount of visitors possible?

My guess is it’s probably not working as well as a more stylized button with a strong CTA,, but I could be wrong. That’s the beauty of a/b testing – it allows you to see in real time what actually works.

If you’re wondering why most companies shy away from the traditional small grey/white button it’s because a lot of research shows that buttons that stand out get clicked more than ones that don’t.

In fact, you may have heard before that BOB (the Big Orange Button) is the very best button you can use.

That’s not necessarily true, although it can be true in a lot of cases because a big orange button usually stands out from the rest of a website.

You can see in the examples above – that are from HubSpot and Marketo – both employ the use of BOB.

BOB seems like it would work really well because it really stands out against the background of the landing pages it’s on. It draws the visitor’s eye and then encourages them to click and convert.

If your website theme is mostly orange then BOB probably wouldn’t be the best idea for you.

If you’re wondering what the best color would be … test it!

3. Ecommerce Checkout CTAs

If you want a lot of your ecommerce website visitors to complete a checkout with you, the entire process has to be optimized — including the CTA that actually gets the visitor to start the checkout process.

There are a few tactics that successful brands employ in their a/b tests to increase conversions.

For example, since research shows that online shoppers like free shipping, one way to lift conversions is by placing information about free shipping near your CTA.

Another common concern for shoppers is that they won’t be able to return or exchange an item when it’s purchased online. You can easily eliminate that fear by reassuring shoppers that you have a hassle free return policy.

Of course every company can say they have a hassle free return process. If you want to provide great customer service and enjoy repeat business, then you need to follow through on this promise.

In addition to free shipping and hassle-free returns, showing positive customer reviews near the CTA can really help you increase conversions.

For example, when Express Watches added a customer review widget to their website they increased sales by 58.29%.

As for the actual CTA: Add to Bag, Add to Cart, Buy Now… the only way to know which option will work best for you is to test it!

RIPT Apparel was able to increase their conversion rate by over 6% when they began a/b testing their shopping cart CTA button.

What would a 6% increase in conversions look like for your bottom line? Pretty nice, I’m guessing.

What About Other Types of CTAs?

Do you need to optimize the CTA on your site for a situation not listed in this post?

No problem!

My advice? Start a/b testing your CTA until you find the version that gets you the biggest lift in conversions. If you would like us to review your landing page and provide some CTA a/b testing ideas just leave a comment with the link below.


HOW TO: Choose an Advertising Medium

By | Strategy | No Comments

By Rebecca Brebberman
These past few weeks, I have been researching prices of different advertising mediums for one of our clients that I have been working with. For those of you who may be wondering which advertising medium is right for your company, I thought I’d go through some pros and cons of each, just to give you an idea of what is out there.

In my previous how-to article, I talked about how to create a Facebook ad. These ads are the ones that come up on the right side of the page under the “sponsored” section when you are browsing on Facebook.
• Facebook makes it easy to reach your exact target
• Cost is flexible—you can choose how much you are willing to spend
• Links people directly with your website—all they have to do is click
• Your message is limited so you can’t go into a lot of detail—hopefully it will be enough to get people to go to your website
• You are competing for attention with several other ads on the page


With Google, you can purchase certain keywords that relate to your business. Your website will come up in a yellow box at the top of the page. You can see how many people are searching for certain keywords by using the Google Adwords Keyword tool.
• You are targeting people who specifically need your service—they are already searching for you
• Connects them directly to your website
• Pricing is also flexible
• Depending on the keyword, you might have a lower reach with this method

• Television allows you to have a more detailed advertising message
• Reaches broad audiences, but you can narrow it down to a more specific target based on the program you choose to run your ad during
• TV can be expensive, depending on how many people you want to reach; one 30-second spot can range from less than $100 to thousands of dollars, so make sure you are reaching the right people
• TV is not the best if you are trying to reach a very narrow, specific target
• Some people have technology that allows them to skip through commercials, or they simply change the channel


• Like TV, also gives you the ability to communicate a more detailed, descriptive message
• Reaches broad audiences, but can be narrowed down based on the station you choose and the type of person most likely to listen to that station
• Easy for people to tune out or change the station when a commercial comes on

• Billboards have a high reach—lots of people will be exposed to your message
• Low CPM (Cost Per Thousand)—billboards are relatively cheap for how many people are seeing your message
• You are not reaching a specific target—billboards don’t target specific people, everyone driving down the road will see it
• Your message is limited—it must be simple; you can’t cram a lot of information on your billboard or it will be hard to read and no one will remember it, making your billboard ineffective

There are other advertising mediums that you might also want to consider such as print (newspaper, magazine), direct mail, or other forms of Internet advertising but I hope now you at least have an idea of what is out there and can make a more informed decision based on your business’ needs.
Click here to see the Prezi I put together for our client with more detailed information on each medium.

HOW TO: Pitch a Story to the Media

By | Strategy | No Comments

By Ashley Van Wagoner

The Basics:
It’s no secret that “earned” media coverage is the icing on the cake for any organization, but, how do you get the in? Well, it can be easy enough for disastrous news to end up in a local paper, but, there isn’t a company out there who wouldn’t prefer positive air time.

  1. It must be newsworthy: If it isn’t, make it! If you have something that you feel people need to know in order for you to succeed, find a way to make it newsworthy. How do you make it newsworthy you may ask?
  2. Humanize the story: Reporters and journalists like personal, real, human stories. This doesn’t mean you highlight a random employee and explain how they enjoy your new product. No, it’s finding something which people outside of your organization can relate with and would be drawn to read.
  3. Time is of the essence: You literally have seconds to catch a reporter’s attention—if that.  You need to capture their eye and make your pitch impossible to resist. This may require a bit of research as you thoroughly scour which journalist would actually have an interest in your story. Don’t take it personally, reporters have to find something which appeals to their own self-interest and will catch their reader’s eyes.
  4. Carefully select your email headline: You can safely assume that press releases will typically be thrown in the digital trash can. Reporters may get hundreds, if not thousands of pitches every day. Be creative, short and sweet. Every second counts.
  5. Be patient: Unless it’s a pressing and compelling story in the moment, many reporters will take their time. This doesn’t mean they won’t get to you later but it doesn’t mean to pester them either.
  6. Don’t pitch the same mass email to all your reporters. Remember to personalize it to their self-interests. Look at your story from their perspective and ask yourself what is in it for them.
  7. Find a reason to make them care: If it’s just another event, meeting or gathering, it’s obvious that it’s just business as usual. That won’t be making any front page stories, or any page for that matter.

Pitching a story isn’t always an exact science. There are definite tactics which will give you a higher likelihood of successfully pitching your story, but it’s never a guaranteed. Finally, remember to focus on building relationships with reporters a head of time. If you are pitching a story once, it’s likely you will be pitching to them again. If you already have a genuine, professional relationship established, the hard work is already done for you.

HOW TO: Get a Journalist to Cover Your News Release

By | Strategy | No Comments

By Emily Hogg Journalists all around the world receive hundreds of press releases every day. What would make them want to cover your story versus all of the rest? How do you, as an advocate for an organization, persuade the journalist to cover your story or issue instead of someone else’s? The secret is this: personalize, localize, and make it unique.
Researching different journalists before you begin your news release can help you establish the right person to target your press release to. Researching journalists pasts stories and following their articles can allow you to relate to their interests in your press release which will increase your likeliness in them choosing to cover your story.
Establishing relationships with journalists are crucial in success. Find the correct sources in your field and establish a relationship with them. If you are in the technology industry, research journalists who write a lot about technology. Follow up on their articles regularly and communicate with them about what they write. This will establish a mutually beneficial relationship – they get to cover good stories that they have an interest in and you get publicity. It’s a win-win.
Make sure to localize what you are pitching. How will it effect the local communities or economy? Is it relatable to your target publics? If government just passed a new law, or if there are important world-events occurring, make sure to tie your story around the hot issues in the media. This will encourage a journalists to write your story because it has an impact on the community.
Nobody likes to read the same thing over and over again, and journalists certainly don’t like to read the same news releases or write the similar stories repetitively. This is where you must make your press release unique, or at least cover your not so unique story in a more creative and original way.
There are tons of press releases written about upcoming events or premiers and it is up to journalists to decide what events they want to cover, so why would a journalist choose yours? Making an event exclusive or offering a behind the scenes tour can really interest a journalist. Write a not-so-exciting release from a new point of view. Journalists are always looking to cover stories that are unique and will stand out.
Overall, charm the journalist and play to their personal interests. Make sure to include all of the traditional news release points (title, contact information, etc) as well as a photo if possible. Going the extra mile to make their job easier and providing them with all of the necessary information will increase your odds of being covered. Follow up on your sent releases and establish relationships as soon as possible. Remember that journalists are busy and have an important role in our society and in order to be effective you must make your news releases personalized, localized and unique.