Standing out in the crowd can be difficult, even as a small business looking to receive press coverage from the local media. As the new year approaches, many small businesses will be turning to the local news to spread the word about their initiatives to kick off 2013.
In order to increase your chances of being covered, you’ll need to establish relationships with your local media contacts. Here are a few ideas to help you connect with reporters.
- Connect via social media. Many members of the media actively use popular social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. When the opportunity arises, connect in person. Establishing personal relationships with reporters will put a face to future press releases and can never hurt.
- Join in the conversation. Follow local conversations on Twitter. If your community has a dedicated hashtag, be sure to follow it and become an active participant in the conversation. Over time, you’ll have the opportunity to make lots of connections with reporters and community leaders.
- Comment at the end of articles by local reporters and highlight relevant news articles in your blog. Recognize their birthdays or other milestone achievements by congratulating them via social media. Over time, you’ll establish relationships with these people and have a foot in the door.
- Attend community meetings. Reporters often cover these events and you’ll be able to connect with them.
- Sign up for www.helpareporter.com or similar sites. These sites provide you with the opportunity to be interviewed by reporters who are actively looking for experts. Overall, it can help increase your chances of being covered by the media.
Once you’ve established relationships with your local reporters, you will want to make their lives easier. Here are a few ideas to help you help your local reporters out.
- Never turn down an offer for an interview. Even if you have to shift your schedule around at the last minute, do it.
- Offer suggestions for story ideas on occasion. Ideas for follow-up stories are always helpful to reporters because they are busy and can easily overlook them. Ideally, these stories shouldn’t have anything to do with your business. By being selfless, you’ll show that you are interested in establishing a true relationship rather than just news coverage.
- Be a source of helpful resources. Send links to relevant blog posts on trends. These can be from your own blog or from others. Ideally, you will send them a mixture of posts from yours and others. Reporters are always looking to cover new trends.
- Photograph spot news stories. Carry a camera with you at all times. If you can provide a reporter with photos, you’ll drastically up your chances of getting coverage, especially for spot news stories.
- Offer to write a column for your local news publication. This will provide the publication with a service. It will also get your foot in the door to ask for coverage when a newsworthy event or trend comes along for your business. Finally, it will establish you as an authority within your field.
None of these actions will guarantee you the press coverage you desire, but they will help build important relationships with your local press. In most cases, these relationships will sooner or later lead to some form of news coverage. When the time comes to announce your latest news, remember to give a two week lead time to your local contacts. This will ensure the best chances for coverage, providing the publication deems it newsworthy.