One of the best ways to freely market your business is to be covered by local news outlets. You may have already experienced this when you launched your business. The local newspaper or magazine will usually offer to stop in for an interview. This is usually the first time business owners see the power of the press.
The process seems simple. The publication will send a reporter and take photos for an article. Awesome, right! It is, however that’s where many businesses unknowing get stuck. Here’s what I’ve seen happen: The business waits 6 months to a year for the for the news crew to come back, and when they do, they let the news outlet control everything. Take it from me, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can be in the news every month if you have something worthy to be, it just takes a little determination. Let’s break it down.
Become community focused. News outlets want to write about the community. Of course, many times this get wrapped into crime. Because of this, news organizations are hungry for positive community focused news. So where do you start? Look at your customers, employees or product/ service. What do you do for the community that is unique? Is there a special event coming up that you’ll be a part of? A local non-profit that needs donations or volunteers. Go through your calendar and make a list of ways your business will be involved in the community.
So you have your list, next you’ll need to draft a press release. A properly written press release will do two things. Inform the news outlet on the details of what your doing, and pitch the story you want covered. In general, press releases should only be a few paragraphs, include a descriptive quote, and highlight why what your doing is good for the community.
Distributing your press release is the final stage. The best way to do this is with email. Yes, you can use instant messaging apps like Facebook Messenger. However, messenger apps are best for quick answers, not monthly notifications (you don’t want to bug them too much). Before you send your email, you’ll need to compile a list of media outlets to send it to. Starting a list is easy, just go to the news outlets website to find email addresses. You’ll want to send it to the main email, and if listed, any editors/ reporters that cover topics related to your industry.
You’ve been contacted by the media for an interview. Awesome! Here are a few bonus tips on how to conduct yourself.
- Don’t be shy, ask questions about the process. Did they tell you when its coming out? In what format, print, online, video? How can you share it?
- Have friends or customers present when interviewed. Giving the reporter more than one opinion is a great way get more coverage and it reinforces the importance of the story.
- Don’t spill the beans. Yes, your excited that the news is interested in you, you should be. But, you don’t know how they will shape the story. Feel free to talk, just don’t say too much about uncompleted projects or speculate.