Gaining exposure through newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV can significantly enhance your brand’s influence, authority, and awareness. Unfortunately, many small businesses lack the financial resources to hire professional help for media relations. The good news is that with a little knowledge and guidance, you can successfully manage your own public relations efforts.
In this blog, we’ll take you through some effective tips to help you secure media coverage for your small business.
Determine Your Target Audience
While press coverage may come at no cost, your time is valuable. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of why you seek media exposure and how it will benefit your business. Whether your objective is to generate leads, attract investments, recruit talented individuals, or pursue other goals, what truly matters is having a purpose.
Discover Their Preferences
Once you have a clear objective in mind, consider your target audience and research their preferred reading materials, shows, and podcasts. It’s important to be specific; it will be difficult to identify suitable publications or programs if your only goal is to attract more customers. However, if you narrow down your target audience by age range, gender, location. education level, income level, etc., it becomes much easier to determine which publications or programs to focus on.
If you’re unsure about your desired audience’s preferences, don’t hesitate to ask. A quick online survey or questionnaire of your target audience can provide enough information to compile a shortlist of target publications.
Avoid Overshooting Your Mark
While you may be drawn to the idea of being featured in the Sunday Times, it’s important to assess whether your target audience actually reads that publication. Otherwise, dedicating your time and resources to it could be a futile endeavor. Moreover, it’s crucial not to assume that national coverage is inherently superior to regional or trade press. If your goal is to reach people within a specific geographical area or industry, securing a story in a local newspaper or industry-specific publication could prove to be significantly more impactful.
Collect Contact Details for Relevant Journalists
Publications often provide contact details for journalists, including email addresses. Identifying radio and TV producers and researchers can be challenging, but leveraging social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn can help. When in doubt, make a call and inquire. Remember, newsrooms are busy, so don’t take it personally if people seem brief on the phone. Avoid using generic email addresses as they are infrequently checked. Instead, make it your mission to obtain the name and email address of the person responsible for deciding whether to use your story or not.
Research Ideal Publications and Programs
Journalists receive numerous press releases and email pitches weekly. However, time constraints prevent them from reading everything, resulting in many communications being deleted without being opened. To grab their attention, closely align your idea with their ideal story. One reason for the failure of press releases and email pitches is the sender’s lack of familiarity with the target publication, including radio and TV. Increase your chances of success by researching past stories over several weeks or months. Also consider lead time, the period between commissioning an article and its publication or broadcast, as it is often longer than anticipated. Timing is critical when contacting newspapers; an idea for the following day at 3 pm would likely be missed, unless it’s an extraordinary scoop.
Craft a Compelling Pitch or Press Release
Local newspapers often have limited staff, so a well-crafted press release with all necessary information included may be printed quickly with minimal changes. You can find press release examples online. If you lack writing confidence, consider hiring a freelance writer.
When pitching to publications, a concise email outlining your idea is often enough. Use a subject line with ‘story idea’ and a compelling one-liner description to catch a journalist’s attention. Pitching ideas over the phone is acceptable too but avoid busy times such as deadline day or before a news bulletin. Be prepared to send an email pitch or press release if asked – most journalists will appreciate it.
When a journalist shows interest in your story, they usually respond within a day. However, stories can be overlooked in a busy newsroom. So, don’t hesitate to follow up on your pitches or press releases via phone or email. If you’ve followed up multiple times without progress, assume the journalist is not interested and explore other options.
Offering the same story to different programs or publications is acceptable, as long as you’re transparent. Keep in mind there may be competition. While seeking maximum press coverage is tempting, if a journalist planning to cover your story sees it elsewhere, especially before their publication date, they might not be pleased. It’s not worth jeopardizing relationships for short-term gains.
Set Realistic Expectations
Securing press coverage, especially at a national level, can be quite challenging. It takes time and effort to build a strong media profile, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t achieve instant success. Some journalists may disregard your press releases and pitches, while others may reject your ideas repeatedly. However, with persistence, consistency, and a willingness to learn from your mistakes (because you will make them), you will eventually see results. Stay determined and keep pushing forward.