The rise in popularity of the internet has changed the media landscape forever. The ability for blogs and websites to instantly publish breaking stories as they happen has made real-time news reporting the norm, and physical channels like newspapers and magazine are struggling to keep up. Media channels that can respond to events in real time, like television and radio, are also being challenged by blogs but on a different front. While TV and radio can cover breaking stories as they happen, like blogs can, their reporters and editors only have limited resources, and they can only cover one story at a time. Blogs, on the other hand, can dedicate their teams to many different stories, post them all simultaneously, and then let the ones receiving the most traffic and shares on social media rise to the front page.

Because of these abilities, blogs have come to drive the media narrative. All other media outlets now look to blogs to determine what stories are catching on and deserve to be covered. Now that you know to look for it, you’ll see the following phenomenon happening multiple times per week: A local blog posts a story on their website in the morning, and for whatever reason it strikes a chord and begins spreading rapidly across the internet. Individual people will post it to their social media profiles, and other blogs will begin covering the same story.

As an important side note, blogs make money by selling advertising on their sites, and they do this by the pageview. This means that the more people clicking links to their site, the more money they make, so it’s in their best interest to make sure that they have coverage for all of the day’s most-clicked-on posts. Once one blog has a hit story, others will begin chasing their own version of it to try and capture as many pageviews from its popularity as they can.

Going back to the example of how blogs drive the media narrative, after one blog posts a hit story in the morning, it begins to spread throughout the afternoon when individuals and other blogs start drawing attention to it as well with their own coverage. As the story grows, more popular blogs with larger audiences begin to take notice and give it coverage. If the story gets to large, influential blogs like Gawker and Mashable, and is able to generate substantial attention there, mainstream media outlets will start working on their own coverage for the story since they look to blogs like these for story ideas. By that evening, television and radio stations that found out about the story from the large blogs will have their own coverage running, and the next morning’s paper will contain articles about it as well.

This presents an outstanding opportunity for companies looking to get mainstream media coverage, using a technique Ryan Holiday termed Trading Up the Chain in his book Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator. If the mainstream media gets its stories from large blogs, and large blogs get their stories from smaller blogs, then all you have to do is post your stories to small blogs, make large blogs take notice of it, and you will be well on your way to mainstream press coverage.

Here’s an example of how trading up the chain works: Write a guest blog post or press release for a targeted group of small blogs that cover companies and stories like yours. You can use tips from our blog post The Art of the Pitch: How to Land Coverage on More Blogs if you need help with this. If one or more of the smaller blogs bites and runs the story, then you’ll want to email the editors at larger blogs (many larger blogs will have a specific editor that you can contact with a news tip) with links to the posts on the smaller sites and ask why they aren’t covering this story. Make sure to mention why you’re interested in it and disappointed you had to find out about it from somewhere else.

If the large blog gets a few of these emails (this is where using social media or having friends helps) they will take notice and most likely run their own coverage of the story. You can then repeat this process for larger and larger blogs, fanning the flames of the story until it ignites and catches the attention of the mainstream media, bringing tremendous publicity to your company and brand.

One key thing to be aware of is that the story has to be successful on the smaller blogs in order to get attention from larger blogs. Having tips comes from multiple sources will help give that impression, but you also need to construct your story in a way that helps it spread.

Research shows that two of the emotions that are most likely to make a story spread are anger and humor, while sadness is the least likely to cause a story to spread. If you can make readers of your story angry about something, perhaps the negative aspects of one of your competitors that you show in contrast with one of your positive attributes; or an unfair legal restriction holding back your company’s progress; or if you can entertain the readers with humor while presenting your company’s pitch, it will go a long way to making your story successful as it travels up the chain of media coverage.

What was your company’s first notable press mention? Tell us about it in the comments!