August 7, 2023 0 Comments


Understanding the Spiral Method to Land Top-Tier Media Hits

PR strategy

Are you a brand leader dreaming of getting your funding announcement featured in TechCrunch, your best-selling beauty product on the cover of Cosmo, or your awe-inspiring founder story on TODAY? Rest assured, while achieving these goals may not occur overnight, they could indeed be within your reach. But public relations (or PR) is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to cultivate a respected reputation online — and to develop meaningful relationships with the journalists and editors who write the articles your customers are reading.

In the world of media coverage, one time-tested method has emerged as the most powerful strategy for brands aiming to secure top-tier placements. Here’s the basic idea: Picture a spiral, with a bullseye in the middle. We can lay the foundation for a meaningful reputation in the press by targeting niche, respected publications and local/hometown media outlets (on the edge of that spiral), which in turn can generate the momentum to propel you closer and closer to those core, top-tier placements at the center of your media relations goals. At Trust Relations, we call this the Spiral Method.

In this blog post, we will share some of the “secret sauce” that goes into this approach, by capturing the attention of top-tier media outlets and maximizing your brand’s visibility. 

Understanding Different Types of Publications

When evaluating media coverage for your brand, it’s crucial to understand different types of publications and the unique value they provide. 

Each serves a distinct purpose: 

  • Top-tier publications like TechCrunch, Forbes, and The New York Times exude prestige.

  • Bloomberg and WIRED are uniquely specialized business and technology (biz tech) publications.

  • The Des Moines Register or Chicago Tribune are highly respected local newspapers.

  • Each industry has their own important, niche trade publications, such as The American Journal of Transportation for the logistics industry or Skift for the travel industry.

While top-tier outlets can help establish industry positioning and capture a broad audience, trade publications offer a chance to gain credibility within your niche market. If you’re a consumer brand, don’t underestimate the influence of lifestyle magazines like Cosmopolitan or GQ, as they can boost brand awareness and appeal to a broader consumer base. If you’re in professional services, publications like The Legal Intelligencer or Harvard Business Review carry considerable clout.

Each type of placement holds its own value, whether that’s impressing your investors, building brand awareness, or positioning your company executives as industry thought leaders. Understanding the nuances and benefits of different publications will help you to work with your PR agency to craft a strategic media outreach plan that aligns with your brand’s goals and aspirations.

How Credibility Factors In

Credibility plays a crucial role in determining the newsworthiness of stories when seeking coverage from major publications. The most prominent news publications have stringent criteria in place to ensure that the stories they feature resonate with their vast audiences and align with their editorial standards. An editor at a top-tier outlet will virtually never accept a promotional, sales-forward story angle from a brand — those types of articles are typically pay-for-play, sponsored pieces. Earned coverage is different, and is often much more valuable.

Several key factors contribute to the newsworthiness of a story and catch the attention of influential outlets, including: 

  • Timeliness: First and foremost, publications need to cover current and relevant stories as they strive to deliver the latest and most impactful news to their readers. If your brand or story has a timely hook, such as a tie-in to a significant breaking news event or a relevant industry trend, it increases the chances of attracting attention.

  • Uniqueness: This is another essential element. The average newsroom is understaffed, and journalists are over-saturated with story angles, making it imperative that brands find a way to stand out. Any good PR agency will tell you: Top target publications are more likely to cover something genuinely unique. As a brand leader, you should be ready to offer a fresh perspective or innovation. Consider what sets your brand or story apart from competitors and emphasize those distinctive qualities in conversations with your PR team.

  • Dollar Amount: While it’s not the sole determining factor, a substantial funding round or a noteworthy financial milestone can capture journalists’ interest and demonstrate your company’s potential significance with cold, hard numbers.

  • Solid Proof Points: To bolster the credibility of your story, outlets will seek evidence that supports your claims. This could be data, research findings, customer testimonials, or successful case studies. Providing concrete facts to your PR agency partner can increase the validity of the stories they’re pitching and make your news more compelling and trustworthy to editors and their readers.

  • Connections to known brands or customers: If you can showcase partnerships, endorsements, or clients from well-known and respected companies, it adds a layer of trust and legitimacy to your brand that editors often appreciate.

Reality Check: It’s also important to recognize that major publications typically prioritize brands with established reputations or significant momentum in the press. They’ll usually pursue covering companies that have demonstrated growth, impact or disruptive potential. Unless you are lucky enough to be a rare, $10 billion unicorn or a viral social media phenomenon, the reality is that your brand will likely need to build credibility gradually to capture the interest of target journalists. As PR practitioners, our speciality is to get you over that hurdle with proactive, strategic planning.

The Spiral Method

This approach involves a gradual progression from smaller media hits to larger and more prestigious publications, building momentum and credibility along the way. While this strategy – like any PR campaign — requires a long-term commitment and cannot guarantee immediate results, the Spiral Method offers a roadmap to success in the media landscape.

The Spiral Method approach begins by targeting smaller publications, typically local and/or trade publications, and securing placements that align with your brand’s niche. By starting with these initial wins, you lay the foundation for future success. As you gain traction, you work your way up and around, strategically navigating through industry trade and, in some cases, hometown publications. This deliberate progression allows you to refine your messaging, establish industry connections and fine-tune your pitches to meet the specific needs of each publication. Reporters at larger publications often refer to those niche outlets to research a brand’s reputation, consider past coverage, and help determine a company’s value, relevance and industry positioning. If you lack those “smaller” media hits, those data points simply won’t exist and top-tier reporters might be more likely to disregard your brand as a valuable source.

It’s important to note that the Spiral Method is a time-intensive and strategic process. Building credibility and securing dream placements takes time and persistence. It requires consistent effort in crafting compelling pitches, leveraging industry connections and delivering valuable content to engage with media outlets at various levels. To maximize success, enlisting the support of a PR agency is instrumental. Their expertise, relationships with journalists and deep understanding of what works for different types of outlets will significantly increase your chances of securing media coverage. Your PR team can also tailor your pitches to target the needs and preferences of each publication, increasing the likelihood of success at every step of the spiral.

Alongside the Spiral Method, credibility plays a paramount role in achieving outstanding PR results. By establishing trust, credibility opens doors to media opportunities, attracting influential journalists and coverage in top-tier publications. Moreover, credibility shapes public perception, fostering brand loyalty and driving business growth. Prioritizing credibility while maintaining the steps within the Spiral Method allows brands to enjoy enhanced media coverage and long-term success in the competitive PR landscape.

Get ready to unlock the power of strategic media coverage and take your brand to new heights! Contact us here


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Trust Relations Team