- Present your story to attract media attention: Often an attention-getting email subject line is all you need to get a reporter to open your email and read your pitch. With thousands of pitches sent per day to many reporters, the email subject line may be all the chance you have. Use statistics and mention the local impact, market size or any other figures when you can to show the importance of the news item.
- Tie into a national event or holiday: Is your company participating in a nation-wide, popular event or holiday, or is your product endorsed or used by a well-known person or group? I’ve seen television coverage of companies supplying products for the Super Bowl or Academy Award swag bags. Be creative with your approach.
Boast about your community efforts: Do your company employees give back to nonprofit organizations or provide a community service? Perhaps you raise funds for a local charity, take a day off of work per year to give back to others, or donate a certain amount of hours to an organization. These are the kind of stories that reporters often find interesting.
- Can you team up with someone more well-known? If one of your partners or clients is a larger company or household name, sometimes mentioning them in your story idea or press release can get a reporter’s attention.
- Focus on smaller or lesser-known media: Instead of trying to get the attention of your metro business journal or a major network television show, try sending your release or story idea to your hometown or regional paper (such as this one), or a trade publication in your industry or your clients’ industry. Often these reporters and editors seek out content and would be happy for a new story idea. Think about bloggers or people with clout on social media who might be able to help share your story, too.
- Try writing a letter to the editor or contributed article: Find out if your targeted publication runs submitted, educational articles (like this one) from a third party. Provide a list of topics that the publication’s audience might find useful, and see if you can get on a regular contribution schedule. You cannot sell your product in these articles, but they serve as a good way to showcase your expertise and build credibility.
- Use your press release for SEO: Sometimes, you just need your news to get out there and make your product or company searchable on Internet search engines. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to simply write a release and post it online. There are many free press release distribution services that allow you to post news items at no cost. And the story may help you get noticed by a reporter who sees it online.
After working with small businesses and startups for so many years, I’ve seen the frustration that comes from launching a new product or service using a press release to local and national media, only to get frustrated at the lack of interest from reporters, editors and producers. The perception among these small business owners is that the only news the media cares about is large, publicly-traded companies, high-volume transactions or major local impact. While it’s true that reporters do try to report on the “big” stories, hope still exists for the “small guy” trying to tell a story or promote a product.
How can a small business compete in a world of big company news?
I’ve come up with several strategies that you can use when you prepare your next media campaign, to help you get noticed by newspapers, magazines, television, radio and online publications:
These are a just a few tips for getting noticed by the media if you’re a small business that has had no luck pitching reporters in the past. If you remember to put on your reporter hat, keep the selected media’s audience in mind, and tailor your pitch to fit, you’ll have more success getting earned media coverage. Let me know how these tips work for you.