Hey–is that your competitor featured in today’s newspaper? And wasn’t he on television last week? Why is he getting all that free publicity, instead of you? You can change that, starting right now.
With little or no cash investment, you can get exposure that positions you as the expert and brings customers to you. Customers know that you pay for advertising, but when you get free publicity, you are news. Publicity carries an implied endorsement from the media. After all, if they feature you, you must be important, right?
The media (television, radio, print and online) need stories. That means they need you. Here is how to show them that you have a story that will interest their readers, listeners or viewers, and start on the way to your 15 minutes of fame.
Have a newsworthy story. The fact that you have a business isn’t news. Is your business the first of its kind? Do you have information that can help the audience? Can you offer a new perspective on a hot news story? Any of these can make you newsworthy.
Send press releases. When you have news, alert the media by sending a press release. Write your releases like news stories, giving the Who, What, Where, Why, When and How in objective journalistic style. Your releases can be distributed through postal mail, fax or email. You can find contact information for media outlets at their web sites, or get your own custom media list.
Follow up. A few days after you send the release (sooner if it involves breaking news), call to follow up. Don’t ask, “Did you get my press release?” Instead, tell them you sent a release, give a quick synopsis of your news, and say you are calling to see if they want additional information.
Help them get the story. When you are contacted by the media, make yourself available immediately. They are probably on a deadline and every minute counts. Ask, “What can I do to help you with this story?” They may need other sources to enhance or balance the piece. If you can suggest some, it makes the journalist’s job easier.
Try to get your business information into the story. Although it is not always possible, ask if they will mention your business name along with your location, phone number or web site URL. Ask if they will include the story on their web site, with a link to your site. It may or may not work, but it won’t hurt to ask.
Say thank you. When the story runs, send a thank you note to the people involved. Let them know you appreciate their hard work and would be glad to work with them again.
Do it all again. Keep looking for newsworthy angles and contacting the media. While you won’t have success with every attempt, you will start to build a reputation as a media star.
See you in the news!