By far the best way to get press coverage is to provide journalists with materials they can use. This seems a simple enough plan, but it is one that is tricky to implement well. You have to become very good at putting yourself in the shoes of the journalist and knowing what it is they are most likely to print, at any given time.
The most important step in this process is to become known and trusted by the journalists who are covering your industry, your target markets and your geographic region. This takes time.
Begin by identifying the journalists you want to regularly engage with. Do your initial research on the Internet. Find their contact details, look them up on social media sites and check out the websites of their publications. Read some of their stories to understand a little about their interests and the topics that trigger their stories.
Armed with this basic knowledge, get to know them. It might cost you a few lunches as you develop your relationship. Your objective is to build their confidence in you. When journalists realise you are different to the average small business owner they meet, your credibility will increase. During this phase of getting to know them, you should be trying to find out what you can give that will really help them.
Remember, journalists work under intense pressure. Stories have to be written and available for the next issue. For weekly publications, it can be a huge challenge to find stories their readership will find of interest. For the daily newspapers, the pressures are immense. So, don’t waste their time.
In many cases, if you ask what you could provide that would really help them you will get the response “a good story”. Explore this in as much detail as time will allow. Try to understand what makes a good story for them.
Be clear right away, a press release from you about the launch of a new product or your latest sales success is not what journalists will want to receive. Frankly, they have little (or no) interest in your products. Their interest is in meeting their next publication deadline. When you know what makes a good story for your journalist contacts, you need to provide them with just that. If you can’t, don’t give them anything.
One way to develop your relationship is to explore whether you could produce a regular column that would be informative to their readership. Provide it free of charge in return for the inclusion of your bio-box each time. The bio-box gives your name, company name and website address so interested people can follow up the column.
Your column should aim to provide useful information for the publication’s readership. It is not the right place for you to sell your products/services. Simply give information and invite people to visit your website.
Another easy to implement idea is to let journalists know that you are available to comment on developing stories in your industry. It gives them a source of additional material to work with and you may find they will print one of your quotes, alongside a mention of your company. When you offer to comment on such stories, it is important that you commit to respond promptly whenever you are asked. The pressures to publish the story means journalists are unlikely to wait more than a few hours for your response.
Make it easy for them to contact you and be available to take their calls or respond to their emails.
These tips are all simple to execute but they do take some commitment and time to get right. Journalists are not the most patient of people because so many people they meet simply waste their time. Provide them with materials they can use and you will find they come back to you repeatedly. Look at ways you can use the other materials you write – your eZines, articles, eBooks and blogs.
Avoid the easy way out by simply sending this information to journalists and expecting them to sift through everything to extract what they need for their story. This simply won’t happen. Put in the effort to extract the relevant pieces of information which they can use directly and you will find you and your company being mentioned in the body of the stories.
This builds your credibility in the eyes of your prospects, clients and suppliers. It gives you greater visibility and will result in more people visiting your website.
- When you offer help, or comments on developing stories ensure you are accessible and provide useful material that will be of value.
- For both newspapers and magazines, explore whether you could write a regular column (for free) in return for your name, company name and website address being included at the end.
- Practice Give-to-Get and invoke the Law of Reciprocity by helping journalists and their contacts without expecting something in return. Do a good deed and move on. Avoid the temptation to “keep score”.