How to generate publicity for your business
Journalists enjoy a great deal of influence but come with discerning audiences. Just like any time-poor business owner; journalists need you to be respectful of their time, relevant and provide them with information they can’t find elsewhere.
Delivered authentically, a business of any size can capture the attention of media and secure publicity, provided you’re willing to get a little creative.
What makes your business different?
The fact that you exist is not enough to warrant media coverage. You have to be able to demonstrate why you’re an expert and what value you can add to the conversation already out there about your industry. Journalists get hundreds of media story pitches every week, so it pays to spend a little time getting your ‘elevator pitch’ ready before reaching out.
Articulating what’s unique and interesting about your brand can be quite challenging, especially when you’ve been working so intimately in the business. Journalists will want to know what you’re doing differently from competitors and what role you could play as part of a wider story relevant to their readership. If you’re established, they’ll want to know what innovations you have implemented recently worthy of note. If you’ve launched recently, they’ll want to know what trend you’re responding to, or what gap you’re filling in the market before considering you as someone to speak to for a potential story.
Elements to consider before reaching out to a journalist are: what makes your product different from other business who shares your vision or aesthetic? If you are selling a service, what element of your expertise or approach makes you different to professionals offering something similar?
Mapping this out on a page can be hugely beneficial. Highlight the most compelling points and create two strong sentences which demonstrate who you are, what you do, and why you’re different. When you’ve got your elevator pitch down, it’s time to start getting creative.
Join, own or create a trend
An efficient way to capture the attention of a journalist is by providing access to content, data, an exclusive, or a new perspective on a trend not available elsewhere. A good way to start is by checking out your industry publications and seeing what headlines are communicating common themes or headlines.
Is there something tangible you can add to the conversation? Does your data position your business uniquely or can you provide some information that others can’t?
Try analysing sales data and social media traffic and look for pattens which may point to future trends. Are you finding one particular mode of marketing, such as promoted posts on Facebook, are generating sales leads more so than others? Is a particular audience or region engaging with your product or service? If so, consider different ways this could be communicated. If not, you could forecast a trend that might be relevant to your industry in the future.
Reaching out to media
Once you are armed with content, data and story ideas, your next step is to contact journalists whom might find this of interest and sound them out about it.
The trick is finding the journalist who most wants to hear from you.
If your sales data points towards a regional trend, consider reaching out to a reporter at the local newspaper relevant to that area. Let them know how much your SME has grown (maybe business has tripled in three months), what you attribute this to (perhaps Facebook advertising) as part of a wider trend (do consumers want to buy products from your region?) and offer access to your business as a case study to demonstrate this growing trend.
If your service or product is part of a new trend emerging in your sector, you might reach out to a journalist at a start up publication and let them know your business is leading this movement and you are available as a case study.
If you are an established business, and have a product or service which is less relevant to a wider trend, you might reach out to journalists local to your area (think local newspapers or radio), as well as industry media, to introduce yourself, your business, your expertise (such as ‘a retail expert with 20 years experience’, ‘an award winning designer’) and let them know you are available to call upon if they need expert commentary for future stories.Timeliness plays a huge role in stories getting printed, so consider whether you can tie it into an upcoming event such as Easter, Spring Racing, Christmas and Chinese New Year.
In the absence of data, a trend or a strong angle, a genuine way to engage the media is to email a few journalists who have published pieces you have found both interesting and relevant to your business. Let them know you enjoyed their piece, and introduce yourself as an expert they can speak if they have any similar stories in the future.
Building media relations is much like any relationship; trust needs to be established. It can take years to build a relationship with the press, so be timely, be relevant and above all, be patient.
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