Media coverage helps build your brand’s reputation and increases your visibility. As you look for ways to grow your public exposure, remember that it is most essential that your products or services deliver on their value and promise. Quality comes first whether you are aiming for the free paper that ends up on your driveway each week or large national publications.
There are multiple aspects to press coverage. Where can you get coverage for free, who is your target audience and where is it getting its information? Know who you want to talk to, which of their problems you can solve, which media channels they are using to find answers, and which of those will cost you nothing. Set goals to understand why you need press and what you are hoping it will bring you. That will make it easier to determine which outlets to pursue.
Then you also have to consider if you are looking for formal press coverage or more nontraditional means of getting your brand’s name out into the public.
Your first step is to identify the public relation value of your brand that local (or other) reporters will find newsworthy. If readers won’t care about it, no one will write about it. Try to relate your business to a particular seasonal event or time of year. Do you offer services that people tend to use before the kids go back to school? Do you offer products that help people get themselves ready for summer? Timing and relevancy are definitely part of the equation when you are looking for press coverage. And forget the elevator speech – develop the elevator sentence. One pure, jargon-free sentence that tells what your brand does.
Once you have identified either a newsworthy event or widely relevant value your brand provides, write a press release. You can then submit it to hundreds of potential news outlets through an online platform such as PR Web or PR Newswire. Some of those outlets will surely pick up your piece for publishing.
Know that there are those who say that press releases are dead unless you are a well-known quantity like Bernie Sanders, Yahoo, or Nestle. If that opinion resonates with you, consider creating a story idea instead of a press release. Tell a brand story that is focused on the needs of your audience and communicates how your services or products can change their existence for the better. Showing them with images or video is even better!
You can reach out to individual journalists with whom you might forge an ongoing relationship. Email is always a better choice than a phone call. Craft your email pitch carefully. Be genuine, be concise, and don’t oversell. Include your elevator pitch (sentence!) and basic company information. Provide your brand’s URL but do make sure it is the only link you include so you keep the focus on your email and the reader isn’t bouncing around to different sites.
If the other party is interested, they might be willing to start with a feature story or interview and then work with you on brand announcements as they come out. Identify reporters that are related to what your business does through the topics they cover. You can also reach out to individual contributors of publications relevant to your area.
Be a source on the website Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to increase your exposure to writers. If you are not familiar with this site, it sends members daily emails requesting quotes or insights on various topics. Be concise, be knowledgeable, and respond as soon as you receive the request. Writers impressed with your answers will begin to utilize your content providing you free coverage and supplying backlinks to your site.
Not So Formal Press
Of course, there is nothing wrong with relying on media approaches through nontraditional outlets.
Social media platforms are an excellent source of free or low-cost media exposure. Yes, social media counts! Be engaging, be consistent, and provide high-quality, valuable information. Engaging content marketing can grab the attention of journalists and media publications as readily as it catches the eye of potential clients. Build a devoted following and regularly push out content that edifies, enriches or provides enjoyment.
Go beyond posting in your Facebook account and find your town’s local Facebook page. Engage with this community of potential customers. Join conversations that are going on and, politely, share your thoughts on local happenings. Be sure to have “CPA,” “WebDeveloper,” or whatever your niche is as part of your social media name. Social news platforms like Product Hunt and Reddit can also be used to your advantage. Journalists often look at these outlets for information about new businesses and products.
As a side note, social media platforms like Twitter are also a great way to connect with journalists. Follow them and comment or tweet at them if you have something intelligent to say. Following influencers, contributors, and journalists on their social media profiles can help you become a known quantity in a low-pressure environment.
Invest in some “swag” or giveaways that display your brand’s name and your contact information. Then gift them to customers and leave them around town. You never know if someone will use a pen to sign a purchase receipt and notice “Sarah’s Mobile Dog Wash” on the pen at just the right moment. If your business is Internet-based, give branded t-shirts, hats, socks, calendars etc. to family and friends for holidays. Building awareness is half the battle.
Do any of your trade groups offer free resource listings or event calendars? Every time you can put your brand name somewhere that the general public might see it is a step towards growing your reach. These succinct listing opportunities are another reason to perfect your one-line pitch.
Get involved in your community. Join your staff in volunteering for a local charity event, proudly wearing branded gear, of course. Sponsor fun runs, speak at a local Chamber of Commerce meeting, sponsor a banner for the town’s little league team. Announce your participation in all of these things on your website and across your social media profiles. Just be sure to keep the main focus of your announcement on how fabulous the events or other people are, not on your brand.
Take advantage of any and all free opportunities that come your way, regardless of size or channel. I’ll add the caveat, however, that you should make sure the vision or mission of said channel doesn’t in any way compromise the integrity of your brand. Keep your business name visible and stay involved with both local and online channels. For press releases, social media content and all of your digital marketing needs, contact Strategy Driven Marketing now!