How do you get media coverage?
As a small business owner, getting media coverage — a part of public relations — should be a priority for you. But this can often prove to be difficult for companies that do not have the resources to hire a full-time public relations person on staff or an external agency. How, then, do you manage to do media relations? Here are a few tricks you can use to start to get your company media coverage.
Do your research
As you read up on your industry, make note of the writers and reporters who cover businesses like yours and the kind of stories they write (executive profiles, industry news, how to’s, etc.). Follow relevant reporters on Twitter to get a better understanding of what beats they are passionate about, and begin to engage them in conversation online, even if you disagree with their views (as long as you disagree respectfully).
Think of it as setting yourself up for a warm call as opposed to a cold call. When the time comes to pitch a writer, having knowledge of their beat is important, but having some professional relationship with them can go further.
Personalize your pitches
Like most things in life, a little personalization goes along way. Always write concise personal notes to the reporters whom you would like to write about your company. It is helpful to start your letter to a journalist with something that shows you know their previous work. For example, you could start your note by saying:
Hi Patricia, I really liked your recent article about lawnmower safety. People need to know the potential dangers involved in maintaining their machinery. However, I noticed that you didn’t mention the Mowzer6000, the new lawnmower that I invented that has 20 additional safety features. Perhaps you’d like to write a follow-up article that highlights this? I’m happy to speak with you. Here’s my number…
When a reporter calls, emails or DMs you, respond as soon as you can. Media professionals assume reporters are on a tight deadline, and frequently reporters use the quote of the first reliable source who responds. Responding days — or often even 24 hours — after they’ve reached out to you is useless in terms of getting you into an article.
Sign up for Help A Reporter Out (HARO) alerts. HARO is a popular free service that connects professional journalists and bloggers with relevant sources and experts. Frequently, journalists have to produce a story on a deadline and need a salient quote for their story. When they need a quote they will often write to the HARO list-serve. For example, Jane the Journalist covers the steel and metals beat for the New York Herald Tribune. She wants to find out how cheaper metal prices are affecting manufacturers in New Jersey. You own a small manufacturing plant in New Jersey. You respond to the article and say, “We’ve been able to produce better quality widgets than ever before, because it is now less expensive for us to make widgets.” Jane likes your quote and publishes it in the New York Herald Tribune.