Part of the reason local media outlets are still in business, is there's no better authority on what's new, what's happening and most importantly what businesses are being recommended. People trust what's been written in local publications, especially tourists, and a story or brief featuring your company is an unbeatable way to draw the eyes of the public. A recent 2014 study performed by the University of Georgia found independent media as more credible than advertising or other controlled media upon interviewing business and public relations professionals.
Nowadays, local media has adapted to the digital realm as well, meaning everything written for print will also live online with links and URLs pointing back to your business. Since media companies are so heavy in content, the SEO benefits of having a link point to your site is extremely powerful.
What you're going to find, is that it can be very difficult to receive coverage in the first place. Depending on the size and popularity of a media outlet, there will usually never be a shortage of businesses and individuals requesting to be featured. Coverage is essentially free advertising, and because a media outlet is a business as well, the content chosen needs to be equally as valuable for them to retain advertisers.
That's why I've constructed a set of pro tips to help strengthen your approach to the press and ensure a greater probability of having your business featured.
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Get Connected Through Social Media
What used to be a developing trend is now a business standard in terms of getting your brand onto the social networks. Local media is no different, and most likely you'll be able to find your newspaper or magazine on multiple, if not all social sites. Modern success in the media world means getting the stories off the printed page and into cyberspace where everyone can read them indefinitely. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Instagram are all leading resources for the media to direct viewers to their content.
Your job as a business owner or employee should be to engage as much as possible with not only the local media accounts, but all local demographics in order to build the presence of your business for the media to consider coverage. Tell the local press you think they're doing a great job, and engage with the stories they're putting out. It may take some time to get on their radar, but the repetition will be appreciated on their end, and having them follow your business opens up the opportunity for you to catch their interest.
Get To Know The Publication On A Personal Level
All media outlets are different, in content, sections, writers, photographers, and how they choose to talk about businesses. In order to make an effective approach you'll need to research how the publication is constructed, and which journalist would best suit your business category. Start by asking yourself a few questions:
- What section of the publication do I hope to appear in?
- What about my business would be worth writing about? (This can be an upcoming event, a big sale, location change, additions in service, or an interesting history that will entice the public)
- When is the best time to try and appear in the publication? (Depending if the publication is daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly, the time in which you request to be featured will be very important)
Put yourself into the mind of the readers, as well. The best way to have content read, is by creating a story the people will want to read. While advertising can still be an effective route, the OSAA (Outdoor Advertising Association of America) found that less than 50% of newspaper readers recall noting ads, making the editorial content appear even more valuable. The next step is planning your approach.
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Prepare Your Message
Whether you're planning to send out a press release or direct e-mail, be sure to personalize the message to whom you want it received. Nothing looks more automated than ambiguous greetings, such as “Hey there” or “To whom it may concern”. To get the writers attention, add some personal anecdotes in addition to addressing them by name.
The time in which you contact the reporter needs to be well in advance.
Reporting takes time and if the next issue is approaching deadline chances are you might be out of luck. Figure out how often the publication is released, and from there time your approach so the reporter can pitch the idea to the publisher in between issues. If the reporter is intrigued, there will definitely be follow up questions so plan on being available to provide them with all the information they need.
Inviting them to your business is an excellent way to build rapport, and show them how everything operates. Great journalists incorporate the five senses into their writing, so by putting them in your space will strengthen the way they describe your service to others.
Your relationship with the media doesn't stop after the article is written. Make sure to follow up with a sincere thank you, or even offer them a comp on what your business provides. Coverage from the press is invaluable, and the more you do to strengthen that relationship, the more likely they'll be willing to work with you in the future.