How to get your small business covered in the media

Would you like to appear in the Citizen, Courier, or St Andrews in Focus more often? Features in the press are a powerful piece of publicity: they are free, and they are deemed more trustworthy than an advert.  How do you gain that valuable story? Here are a few tips from OPEN Forum blogger Rohit Bhargava.  Click here to read the story in context, or scroll down…

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Local advertising can be effective to reach a regional audience, but when it comes to exposure, nothing beats having a profile piece done on you and your business in the local, regional or even national media. Speaking to many small business owners, many often believe that getting mentioned in the media is simply a matter of luck or networking and knowing the right person. Those certainly help, but there is more of a formula to earning positive press than you might imagine. Though you may not have ever considered working with a public relations consultant or agency to help promote your business, here are a few tips that can help you get coverage:

  1. Be an expert. You might think that the most compelling thing about your business is the great product you have, or the story behind your business. Those things are important, but being an expert in something puts you on the media radar. You may be the foremost expert in your area on whether homebuyers should choose brick or stone for their house exterior. Or be able to taste the difference between coffee from Guatemala and Cuba. Whatever it is, uncover what you know best and then start including that in how you talk about and promote your business.
  2. Remember the story isn’t always about you. Many small business owners make the mistake of assuming that the only media coverage they should try and get is a “profile piece” about them and their businesses. That’s one way to go, but it is far less likely that you’ll get covered in this type of story, and if you do it will be a small regional story anyway. Reporters choose topics to write stories about, but most require some real point of views (ie – interviews). If you can be a source for a reporter to comment on a story they are already writing, you will be far ahead of your competition in getting mentioned more frequently in media.
  3. Start with the bloggers. Whether you consider bloggers to be part of the media or not, they can often be an approachable first point of entry into getting covered. If you can start inviting them to share their comments on your business and perhaps invite them to come and experience what you have to sell, you can build relationships. Those relationships can matter not only because people may read and trust those blogs, but also because they are having a growing influence on the “traditional” media and can lend credibility to your business.
  4. Learn the beats and players. Whatever the industry your small business is in, there are always going to be individuals that should matter more to you. Do you know who covers your “beat” (ie – the category that your business is in)? Knowing who the right journalists are to know is essential in the world of media, and is part of what a PR consultant would help you do first.  How can you target a message or campaign if you don’t know your audience?  Once you know the individuals you are targeting, you can start to build a relationship with them and offer yourself and your business for comment on anything they may be working on. You would be surprised how often a personal relationship can help lead to being considered as part of an article.

These are just a few tips to help get you started with appearing more frequently in the media. For more advice on doing PR effectively, check out my previous blog post on the things that PR pros should know about journalists as well.

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What do you think? Do you have any other tried and tested tips for getting featured in the press? Share them with us here!

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