In today's day and age, large corporations are shelling out millions for marketing and public relations campaigns. It can seem daunting and near impossible to compete for the spotlight - especially if you're a smaller company with limited resources and a limited budget.
The good news? You can still get your products or services recognized by leveraging media coverage and online tactics! Here are a few things you should know before getting started:
1. Know Your Media
It's not necessary to approach every media outlet for coverage. If you're in the business of selling premium pork at discount rates, don't bother pitching your story to Vegan News Daily - they won't be interested.
Instead, research publications or broadcasters who have published stories similar to how you want your business to be represented.
While all news outlets will require similar information, they seek to present it in different ways. For example, print publications might not be interested in a story if you can't offer time for a sit down interview or give compelling quotes, whereas television reporters seek events such as ribbon-cuttings or other functions because they provide excellent visual opportunities.
Lastly, unless it's a feature story, broadcast radio journalists want to be able to condense your story in a minute or less to maximize air time.
2. What Makes A Good News Story?
Journalists follow a few key points when seeking news stories.
Timing is crucial. Old news is quickly discarded, so it's important to offer fresh stories with the latest updates and figures. Many outlets prepare coverage well in advance of an event, so it's not unreasonable to pitch a story a couple months ahead of schedule.
Significance is another point to consider, such as how many people will be affected by the work you're doing, as well as how close the story is to home.
Human interest stories appeal to emotion and don't necessarily have an expiry date or focus on who it affects. The aim is to tug at the heart strings or tickle the funny bone - kooky fundraisers and charitable work are good examples. Barring breaking news stories, most media outlets reserve a slot for human interest stories.
3. Don't Be Picky
There's no such thing as a small story, or bad press. When members of the media notice other outlets ran pieces on you and/or your business, they'll want to hop on the bandwagon. Whatever it takes to get your name out there, do it. This includes agreeing to be interviewed by college students looking to contribute to their school papers - those kids are going to be news directors someday, and you'll be glad you made time for them!
4. Perfect Your Pitch
For journalists, time is money. When calling a news outlet, the first thing you need to do is ask if they have time to talk, and go from there.
If they say they do have some time, don't take it for granted. Summarize the story opportunity you have for them, focusing on the key points.
Be prepared to forward them a press release immediately following the conversation. If you are enquiring via email, make sure to attach the document.
Once they have the release and your contact information, trust that they'll be in touch if they're interested in following up.
5. The Power Of The Press Release
When it comes to press releases, make sure they are formatted properly. They need to be structured, condensed and contain all the information a journalist needs.
Focus on answering the basic questions such as who, what, where, when, and why.
Be sure to include all necessary contact information and one or two quotes if you have the space.
Depending on the story, it shouldn't be longer than one page.
Also, and this applies to social media and query letters as well, be sure to edit and proofread anything you send out. If writing isn't your strong suit, hire a professional.
- See also: 5 Tips For Better Press Releases
6. Make Yourself Easy To Find
For any kind of journalist to produce a story about your business, they have to do their homework. Things like where your business operates and the services you offer are just a few things they'll want to know before delving further into a story.
The first thing they will likely do in these instances is track down information using a search engine. If they can't find information about your business online, there's a chance they'll skip it for a business they could easily learn more about. Make sure to make the most of SEO and marketing to ensure you get noticed!
Being able to locate your company website on the World Wide Web will mean nothing to a reporter if it is riddled with errors, typos and format issues.
In a tech-savvy world where appearance matters, a sloppy, outdated website is unprofessional and could make a reporter think twice about writing a story about your business.
8. Social Media
When a reporter or news outlet is interested in your work, they are sure to follow you on Twitter and Facebook. This is so they can stay up-to-date on what your business is doing.
If a reporter discovers you don't utilize social media often, they will unfollow you, which prevents them from seeing updates when they do happen.
It's best to make frequent and unique posts across all of your social media platforms to maximize your chances of coverage. Integrating different forms of content such as infographics can also provide the reporter with unique and relevant information that may not have been available on your website.
If you don't have the time to write frequently or initiate your own business blog, consider guest posting.
Guest posts position you as an expert in your field and it certainly gives you more credentials.
More credentials = more reputable - which makes you important to a journalist.
10. Honour Your Commitments
If you agree to an interview, don't be late, don't be rude, and for the love of God, don't be a no-show.
Not only does it show a lack of respect for the reporter's time, but they may spread the word to other journalists that you don't take your word seriously, which could hinder your chances at obtaining interviews in the future.