Getting news about your business published in your local paper or covered on TV could greatly increase your visibility in the community. But how do you reach the right people at the right time to make this possible? Read our top tips.
I recently attended an event where members of the media, including bloggers and newspaper reporters, sat with attendees (mostly communications professionals and small business owners) and told us how they like to receive information and what is newsworthy to them. I left with specifics about each person’s particular requests, but also more general information that could help anyone who wants to collaborate with the media to disseminate news. The latter is what I share in this blog post.
Before contacting the press, think about what it is about your business that would make a good article or TV segment. You may need to shift your perspective or run your ideas by people outside of your company to be sure that what you consider important will matter to people who are reading the paper or watching the local newscast.
Some examples of newsworthy content include winning a prestigious national or international award, acquiring another company, hiring hundreds of new employees and releasing a groundbreaking innovation. You probably won’t get coverage of the installation of a new sign on your shop or adding a new dish to your menu (unless it’s really exotic and you send it to the local food writer). Some pieces of news, such as hirings and promotions and ribbon-cutting ceremonies, might be of interest to certain reporters and not others. Pay attention to where you see these kinds of items published or posted and send your similar news to these places only.
On a related note, you should get to know who covers what kinds of topics in your area. If you have a boutique, the retail and fashion reporters should be on your media list. However, the retail reporter might be interested in sales trends, while the fashion reporter would likely want to know about the latest clothing and accessories trends. For a small consulting firm, business reporters would be your main target.
Dig deeper into what resonates with individual reporters. For example, one of the writers at the media event told us that we could get his attention with weird or quirky topics or people related to our clients or companies. Another editor said he likes entrepreneur success stories. Now those of us who attended the event have a better understanding of how to stand out to these members of the media.
Keep in mind that you can also be of help to these reporters who may be putting together stories about larger trends in your industry. Contributing to these kinds of reports is a great way to get your name out there as an expert. To establish a relationship with your local media, follow them on social media and read or watch what they report. Comment, if possible, on their posted pieces and reference them when you email the reporter or blogger with your own story idea. If you can, it’s ideal to get to know the reporters’ preferences and deadlines. How do they like to be contacted: via email, phone, social media tags, etc.? Can they accept attachments or should you send them a link to your Word doc and photos on a sharing service like Box or Google Drive? See if you can find out their deadlines so you can be sure to give them plenty of notice (but not too much…timing is everything).
Reporters are extra busy these days, with the news cycle never ending thanks to social media, and with smaller staffs. Make it easy for them to work with you. Answer their calls or emails as soon as possible, send them photos or videos along with your press release and provide them access to you via cell phone for last-minute questions.
With the help of these tips, you could get the media coverage you seek for your business. Good luck! If you have any questions or want assistance with communicating with reporters, reach out to us using our contact page.