Four Easy Ways To Get Press Coverage
As an entrepreneur whenever you craft a press release or submit a news item to a media outlet you have one goal in mind—to get the most exposure in that media outlet as possible. What your goal really should be is to get any exposure in that media outlet.
True, having a story written just about you and your business is better than champagne and chocolates, but remember, just like in love little gestures do add up. With media coverage there is more than one way to get some ink. Realistically, any positive ink is good ink, even if that ink is just a line or two in a paper that reaches several thousands of people. So here are a few easy ways of getting press coverage that most entrepreneurs often overlook.
Letters to the Editor
This area is so under-utilized but it is a no-brainer when it comes to free advertising. The letters section is usually one of the widest read sections in a newspaper. Get a business mention in there and you’ve got a plum piece of advertising for free. However, you have to play it right.
A couple of things you should know: Smaller newspapers almost always print letters indiscriminately as space allows. That means if you submit a legitimate letter to the editor on a legitimate topic you are likely going to get published. Bigger newspapers are more choosey because they get more letters and therefore have limited space.
The key in either case is that your letter needs to be on a legitimate topic. You can’t just send in an advertisement for your business.
So how do you work it? Identify a current hot topic that somehow relates to your industry and write about it. Present the stance as coming from your business or explain why you, as owner of XYZ company, feel a certain way about the topic. Simple as that. You’ve just got a mention of your business, but you’ve also aligned yourself with a current hot topic that makes people think of you in a good light.
This is similar to the method of writing a letter to the editor but a commentary is space that is actually devoted to a certain topic in the opinion section. Think of it as a much longer and focused letter to the editor.
Often larger papers will invite someone to write a commentary about a key topic, but smaller newspapers and some larger ones will consider a submitted commentary as long as it is a relevant topic and well-written. Again be wise in which topic you choose to write about and make sure it’s a topic that has relevance to your business as well. Study previous commentaries in your targeted publication before writing yours. After you’ve written something submit it to the Opinion Editor for consideration. Having it already written and ready to go will increase your chances of getting a yes.
Any event can get into the calendar section as long as it isn’t a blatant self-promotion, like a sale. Having a fashion show that’s open to the public? Of course, you know the goal of the fashion show is to sell your clothes but it’s still an event, make sure to submit that. If you don’t have any “events” scheduled consider starting one. Consider offering classes based on your business and suddenly you have an event. If you run a bakery, offer a cupcake decorating class or if you are a florist perhaps a flower arranging class might be a good fit. It’s extra money in your pocket as well as a chance for extra exposure.
These days media outlets have online versions of their calendar as well as the one that makes it to print. Submit your calendar item online and also submit it via email to the media outlet’s calendar editor.
This is by far the most under-utilized method of free publicity. Most newspapers have a “business briefs” section. It’s located on their business page and for all intents and purposes it’s a way to 1.) get in all the little bits of business information that aren’t important enough to devote a whole story to but nonetheless deserve some attention and 2.) fill up that extra space on the business page.
So what happens is all the press releases that are business related but relay only minor news—for instance, a new employee announcement, a new location, a new product line—are rounded up, summarized and placed into the business briefs section. This section also helps reporters because even with some juicy business stories there is usually some random white space on the page that needs to be filled and a reporter will look for something to plug into that spot—so what if it’s your announcement about your new partnership? You are still getting publicity right?
The thing is that little announcement that you packaged into a press release may not be earth shattering but it is still newsworthy. That’s why you’ll see it land in the business briefs section.
The best case scenario is that a reporter loves your press release and wants to do a full story on your business. That’s what we all strive for, of course. But to get the most publicity you need to think like a reporter and realize that any small write up is a win for your business. Whether it’s a feature on your business or simply a passing mention the effect is cumulative. You are still in the public’s eye. So stop focusing solely on the big win and go for anything you can get. Eventually the small attention will add up to something big.
Shelly Cone is an award-winning journalist, author and humor columnist. She is the owner of Beach Betty Public Relations; a California lifestyle design company that helps individuals design their life by growing their business. Her clients have included everyone from entrepreneurs in Singapore and musicians in New Zealand to CEOs of multi-million dollar companies in Manhattan. Visit her website at http://www.beachbettypr.com