A challenge for every small business is to get traditional PR from magazines, newspapers, etc…
You have options such as hiring a PR firm (likely with a hefty monthly fee), trying to build contacts, submitting press releases to major press release sites, etc..
These are certainly methods that could work for some small businesses – but – there are a couple options that every business should look into regardless of your current efforts:
Help A Reporter Out (link)
This free site will send you daily emails (up to 3 a day) with requests from magazines, newspapers, online publications, and more. It is very important to keep your responses clear and concise. Include your full details with every response and never spam or reply with cookie-cutter responses.
Continually build contacts
Start small with your local publications and grow your network of contacts.
There have been reports of success by simply running highly targeted ads that will be presented to reporters in your field. Ad platforms such as Facebook Advertising allow fine-tuned ad campaigns for such things.
Use your own creativity
Sometimes the best ideas come from simple creativity within your business. Many organizations have capitalized on creative ideas that result in substantial press coverage from events, stunts, unique products/services, and more.
The secret – have a story to tell.
The secret is to think like an editor. He/she wants news. They want a story. Or they want informed comment.
The last thing they want is sales puff. That’s why many never even bother to read trade press releases – too many are thinly disguised sales copy.
All you have to do is be different. Always ask yourself “If I were the editor, would I be thrilled to put this in my publication?”
Look hard enough and you can always find (manufacture) a story. Then do all the groundwork, making life easier for busy editors.
A couple of years ago, a very small Birmingham company wanted to tell the world they had moved offices. Not the most promising start but, when we dug deeper we manufactured a story. They specialised in security and it was a new building (possibly the most secure in the city?). They were able to demonstrate a security device that within seconds could fill a room with ‘smoke’ – disabling an intruder (a potential visual element). A quick phone call to the West Midlands Police provided all the statistics we needed on increased break-ins (saving the editor or journalist having to do the research). Now we had a story. It gained huge features in the Birmingham Mail, the Post and a four minute slot on Central TV (plus all the inevitable spill-over into cable TV).
Offer your expertise
Whether you are a firm of solicitors, accountants, a software company or security specialist, you will have specialized expertise. Try to establish yourself as either the local guru or the trade guru whose opinion is valuable to editors.
It will take time to convince them that you can deliver relevant news/opinions without the sales spiel. But the investment in time can be repaid many times over.
One of our clients, who provided services to Builders Merchants, was eventually invited to provide articles for every other edition of the Builders Merchant Journal. It went on for years.
Editors love photos
Photos fill column inches and they act as a visual anchor in magazines, so editors love them. Always try to provide a high resolution photograph (try to avoid boring mugshots, people shaking hands or signing contracts).
If you don’t ask, you don’t get
It is a truism, but If you don’t ask, you don’t get. This is true with editors and it is also true with celebrities/industry experts. I managed to get an interview with Bill Gates for a small North West software house. It cost nothing. How did I do it? I asked!
Whether you use an agency or do it yourself, be more demanding. Decide in advance what your success metrics will be. Typically, I look with my clients for things like:
- Did the published article include a photograph?
- Did it include a quote from the one of the company’s directors?
- Did it include a quote from a satisfied customer/client?
- Did it name the company’s products/services/specialisation
- Did it convey our key marketing message?
- ….and so on