Publicity is a powerful way to build awareness of your business and get customers to call you. Here are some basics about getting free publicity.
It can be easy to get publicity, once you know a few basics. And the best part? The higher profile you will have will result in getting more publicity. I have had reporters tell me they called me because everywhere they turned to do research, they found my name.
You can start getting publicity for yourself, your business or your cause, but you need to know a few things:
The media do not exist to give you publicity. Their jobs are to provide useful and interesting stories to their readers, listeners and viewers. Provide the stories they need, and you will get publicity. The story is not about you or your product, it is about solving a problem for the audience.
Always target your pitch. Non-targeted pitches sent to every media person you can find are just spam. They will not get you coverage, and they will not win you friends.
Be familiar with the show/publication. Your pitch should be about how your story will work for them. Don’t do a general pitch (“A story about dog training.”) but suggest the segment the story would be right for, or what makes it right for them.
Approach media using their preferred method. Email pitches are popular. They can be quickly reviewed, and the email can be easily forwarded to several others. However, it may be appropriate to use postal mail or the telephone for some pitches.
Have a web presence. Having a website, blog and social media profiles will help reporters find you. A media kit on your website will give them information they need if they are looking for information about you or your company. (Be sure to refer to your online media kit in emailed media releases.)
Find newsworthy angles to send press releases at least once a month, or more often, if appropriate.
Local media are always looking for local experts to interview on a variety of topics. Send them your bio and credentials and they will keep you on file for the next time they need an expert in your field.
Although there are prohibitions against receiving gifts, it is acceptable to send a sample product (such as a review copy of a book). Promotional items (such as coffee mugs or something or similar value) are OK, and may get your release noticed. Food is always a popular item in newsrooms, so a plate of cookies could get you some attention. None of these things are guarantees of coverage, but they might help get your story noticed.
Say the magic words, “What can I do to help you with this story?” Then do it. I have helped them find other people to interview by connecting them with clients and others, suggested places where we could tape a segment, given them additional story angles to use and more. The idea is to make it easy for them to get the story when they work with you.
When the story appears, send a thank you by mail or email. Let the reporter know you appreciate the work they put in to do a great story.
Build relationships with the media. When they know that you will work with them, give them great quotes and sound bites, and make their jobs easier, they will come back to you for future stories. I have often done multiple stories with producers and reporters because they knew they could count on me. The media with whom you have worked will also be receptive to hearing future pitches from you when you have another great story for them.