31 Jan Making your small business newsworthy – special guest post
Good Business Consulting is very pleased to bring you a guest post written by journalist Anthony Caruana. Anthony has written for some of the most well known mastheads in Australia including The Age, The Herald Sun, APC (Australian Personal Computer), PC Authority, CRN (Customer and Reseller News) and a bunch of other niche titles.
Every business can be newsworthy (although some need a little more help than others in creating newsworthy and interesting angles). In fact, every small business must be newsworthy so that it is easy for clients, potential clients and media to broadcast the right positive things about you and your business.
Want to know how? Then read on.
All the best,
Making your small business newsworthy
So you’ve set up your business and have managed to snaffle a couple of new clients to get you started. But you’re thinking, “I’m special, I need to boost my profile”. Every business needs to do this.
One way to boost your profile is to get coverage in either the mainstream media or in media outlets that target your working niche. Both can be effective ways to help you increase your business’s profile and attract new customers. But how do you get the media to take notice?
Like the movie “Field of Dreams; many businesses take a “If we build it they will come; attitude. But the movie was a fairytale. If you want the media to come to you, you need to be active and drag them to you.
Writing a press release that stands out is a place to start.
Target journalists or publications you think will deliver you new clients. It might be tempting to try for the big newspapers but while they may have hundreds of thousands of readers, not many of those readers will be interested in your niche. Don’t underestimate your local paper – they’re always on the lookout for local success stories.
One strategy is to go to the local newsagent and look through a bunch of magazines that might be of interest to your potential clients.
Don’t just look for magazines that focus on your specific business area. For example, if your business is about kitchenware, don’t limit yourself to cooking magazines. Look at lifestyle titles as well that may have a featured columnist that covers cooking. Lots of people buy magazines for specific columnists.
Most magazines have a small section in the first few pages with contact details. Note the editor’s email address and phone number so you can contact them later. Better yet, buy the magazine and read it thoroughly so you understand the style and tone of the writing. That will help you write a release that will fit into the magazine.
When you write the press release, make it into a story. Press releases that start with “Company X has released the all new product/service ABC – making it the best product of its type since the invention of the original ABC” will almost certainly be glossed over. We journalists are a cynical bunch who have been desensitised to such claims.
You need to find an interesting hook for your release. It might be a customer story, a new innovation that **significantly** differentiates you from the rest of your market – it just needs to be something that makes you stand out.
Write the release in a way that makes it easy for the journalist to convert into a story.
If the release is announcing some news that is only of interest for a short period of time, then write the release like a news story. That means a catchy headline or title and the most important piece of information in the first paragraph. Remember, your new or special service is more important than the name of your company.
When you’re distributing your press release, put the text in the body of the email to make the journalist’s life easy. An attachment is just another step they need to go through. Also, if the journalist needs to come back to it later, it’ll be easier to search for if it’s plain text.
Once you’ve penned your release, make sure that you provide a full set of contact details including:
– your name
– a contact phone number
– your email address
– your website address
– social media links (like Twitter, Facebook, etc)
Be ready to answer calls and respond to email. One of my pet hates is receiving an interesting release only to find that the contact person is out of the office all day and unable to respond.
Photos ready to accompany the release are critical. Often, the decision over whether a story will run is made on the basis of a great photo. When two equally interesting releases come in at the same time it’s the release with the best image that gets run. Photos of products and people are a great way to get attention.Don’t email high-resolution photos as they can clog up mail systems. Set up a Flickr account for your business and put the photos there with a link in the release.
Now you have a snappy, targeted press release, great images and know where you’re going to send it.
The second part of the media relations equation is simple – build relationships. Keep an eye on publications and websites that cover your niche and try to make direct contact via email or over social media sites, with journalists that cover your niche.
Ideally, you might be able to meet with them over a coffee and ask them what makes their life easy and to ask them what sorts of things they might be covering in the near future. These sorts of interactions will get you two things:
- A working relationship – if you’re able to be a reliable and accurate source of information you may find that you are used as a source for other stories. If you’re in the basket weaving business, then whenever something to do with basket-weaving comes up the journalist may consult you for a comment.
- Understanding – by talking with journalists you’ll learn what works and doesn’t work for them. By zeroing in on what they need you’ll make the journalist’s life easier. This will increase your chances of garnering coverage for your business.
So, there you have it.
Getting media coverage for your business relies on good communication that highlight why you’re special and relationships – the same things you need to build your business.
About Anthony Caruana
Anthony has a wealth of real-world experience as a journalist and is committed to sharing what he’s learned. He focuses on delivering what the publication’s readership specifically wants, rather than generic spec sheet embellishment. His background working with, managing and developing corporate and enterprise systems gives him a clear perspective when writing for C-Level executives as well as enterprise system managers.
Blog: Journo Advice
Journo Advice on twitter: @journoadvice