It’s sad how often owners either give up or don’t try to garner media coverage for their company (or themselves) because they tried once and failed or decided it’s going to be too hard. Understanding how the media works is a great first step in building a successful campaign.
It’s actually relatively easy to make your small business newsworthy, if you’re willing to do a little bit of homework.
Since yesterday’s post offered some behind the scenes on how the media works, I thought readers might appreciate specific ideas on what to do to garner coverage.
Below are 9 quick tips to get you started with a better understanding of how newspapers and broadcast media decisions are made.
- Reporters, not editors are your best contacts for coverage. It’s a lot easier to get a story assigned (or pitched to a producer) if a reporter suggests it. This is one case where going higher up in the management chain is rarely an effective strategy.
- Editors (or department heads) are good resources to help you better understand what types of stories they’re looking for, what’s planned for upcoming issues and are in a great position to suggest you as a source if a reporter is working on a story that requires your expertise. Use them to help with input as you craft your media strategy and referral agents when a reporter is on deadline and needs another quotable source.
- While it may sound counter-intuitive, doing a reporter’s homework for them can put you on the short list when they’re looking for quotable material to support a story. For example, if you’re able to provide statistics on an issue or are a good resource for where to find data on a particular topic (better yet, find out what they’re looking for and send it to them with a source so they can read further), you’ll likely get a lot of mentions.
- Read the paper, listen to the broadcast or watch the show before you pitch. This seems so obvious, but you’d be amazed how few people do it. This will also give you a sense for what beats reporters tend to cover so you can direct your idea to the one most likely to follow through.
- Get a media kit. Most of these are available on line now, but some publications/stations still send them out. This product is designed for advertisers and includes a calendar of intended feature or special section issues. If you have knowledge that relates to intended future topics, think about how you can frame an idea to make an interesting story. Know, even with the dailies, these are generally assigned at least a month prior to the stated publication date.
- Aim to be quoted, not featured. A feature is nice, but papers (and stations) tend to only do this once. You can get a lot more mileage from positioning yourself as a quotable resource in a variety of stories.
- If you have a great idea for a fun feature, though (best to keep it brief), you might secure a weekly spot that points people to your website. Even the dailies are starting to look for editorial contributor content from the community. It’s best to spend some time reading the paper (or watching the show), creating a feature that aligns with their audience and submitting a brief outline of future topics with a sample article/transcript or two. Get on the phone with the right contact before you do this.
- Don’t be self-promotional. If it’s not news, don’t go there. Trying to sell your wares when a reporter calls you for a quote will get you crossed off the resource list.
- Send a thank you note for favorable coverage. Not an e-mail. Not a voice mail message. Take a moment to address a card (or letterhead) to the reporter directly. You’d be amazed how few people do this and how memorable it is.
It’s not hard to make your small business newsworthy. Few take the time to consider things from the reporter’s (or publisher’s or producer’s or host’s) perspective. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can become a go-to resource with your local media if you spend a little bit of time with research and creative thinking. Once you’re deemed a credible source, reporters will be calling you before you reach out.
Tomorrow, we’ll cover dumb things people do to sabotage their media outreach efforts. Sometimes it’s easier to see the right path with illustrations of what not to do, so come back for a list that’s bound to give you a chuckle.