A mention in the news is the ultimate marketing goal for many companies, but small businesses often can’t afford a big PR budget to achieve media attention.
However, you can promote your business in the media without paying someone a fortune to do it for you.
As one of Marketing Harmony’s freelance journalists and copywriters I am in the fortunate position of seeing both sides. I help businesses promote their services in the media using my in-depth knowledge of the industry.
There are a few simple ideas which might help you do the same.
Write a blog
It might sound like a no-brainer, but writing a blog has real power in promoting your business. If the content is topical and interesting, you never know who might pick it up.
I find many of my articles searching through Instagram hashtags. For example, I recently interviewed a woman who was using social media to promote her belly-dancing classes. She wrote a blog about how belly-dancing saved her life. As a journalist, this sounded interesting. I got in touch with her and her story ended up in the local media and women’s magazine, helping to promote her new classes. If you have an interesting or inspiring story to tell, then tell it. A blog is the best way to do that.
According to HubSpot, 53 per cent of marketers say blogging is their top content marketing priority.
Brush up on basic PR skills
When I worked in a newsroom, I came across some terrible PR people. It’s really worth finding out what not to do when it comes to PR before getting in touch with any journalists.
There were those who constantly harassed in an annoyingly overfriendly way about when their press release would be used. Or who sent over articles with no news angle, wasting my time. Even more irritating, were press releases with incorrect information, exaggerations, or so many unanswered questions I didn’t have time to follow it up.
Many emails were deleted because the PR person failed to make it clear why the release was relevant to me. There were those who had no clue about the paper or local area, even mispronouncing Basingstoke! I will never forget the over-enthusiastic PR woman for a supermarket chain. She offered me the “exciting opportunity” to spend the day in the life of a supermarket checkout person.
I belong to a group of freelance female journalists online, and I asked them what their number one annoyance is when it comes to PR people, and here’s what they said:
- Having to open or download large attachments
- Spelling and grammar mistakes
- Being over familiar
- Making it overcomplicated and wordy
- Failing to provide links to high-res images, particularly if promoting a product
- Getting the journalist’s name wrong
So, that’s what makes for bad PR, but what about good PR? Sending a well-written press release with all the information and details needed. If it has a strong news angle and decent photographs as well, it is almost guaranteed to secure media coverage. If it’s deadline day and a space needs filling in the paper, even better. PR people who respond promptly with additional information requested are a godsend. If you’re acting as the PR person for your own business, keep journalists on your side by helping out if needed. The odd freebie doesn’t go amiss either!
Create a buzz
It’s easier said than done, but sometimes the perception that something is exciting, makes it exciting. If you’re launching a new product or service, invite the media along. Once one has confirmed, let the others know so they don’t want to miss out. Getting the balance right can be difficult – exaggerating or being too enthusiastic could have the opposite effect, so be cautious.
I recently covered the re-opening of a hotel which had undergone a refurbishment. The PR woman invited along a local celebrity to the opening. The hotel organised a drinks and canapes launch evening, and I was offered an overnight stay to review the venue. Following the launch, I was sent a press release with all the information I needed and high-res images. This brilliant PR generated a buzz and excitement. It resulted in the venue securing coverage in a glossy magazine, all for the cost of a few canapes and an overnight stay.
Be open to opportunities
There are always journalists out there looking for industry experts to comment in articles. Trust me, I see the pleas, and they will always offer free promotion in return. If you put your business out there on social media and receive a request to comment from a journalist, don’t turn it down. You never know where it might lead. It can be daunting talking to the media, particularly if it’s on the radio or TV. However, if you are articulate, willing to be flexible with your time and an expert in a particular field, then you could achieve amazing results for your business simply by talking about what you know best.
Research the different publications which might cover your business. There are hundreds of different magazines on pretty much every topic you can think of. Whilst you might not achieve a mention in the Guardian, you could end up in a specialist magazine. This website offers a list of all UK magazines http://www.magforum.com/ukmagazines.htm.
Do something for charity
This is an almost guaranteed way of securing local publicity, particularly if you write a press release to send to the local media afterwards. If you can think of something original and different, then you are likely to gain even better coverage. Plus, showing that you care about others and want to make a difference, is a great message to send to your customers.
Find an interesting or unusual angle
To get the media interested, you really need an interesting or unusual angle. Simply sending in a press release about your business without an angle is never going to get you anywhere (except irritate the journalist!).
Could you link it to a national awareness day? There are so many of these, keep an eye out for those which are relevant to your business. I recently interviewed a woman who is a life coach offering support with anxiety and phobias. We spoke as part of mental health awareness week, giving an angle to hook the story to.
Could you angle it around national news? Do you have an anniversary coming up? Or have you won any awards? Maybe you have an inspirational story to tell about yourself about why you set up the business. Promote yourself, and in turn, you promote your business.