Engaging with local media is a great way for small business owners to grow their brand awareness and influence.
Doing your own public relations does not have to be a costly endeavor, nor do you have to hire a pricey PR firm, as you can do it on your own.
Building relationships with a journalist does take time, but it is well worth the effort when you are able to secure valuable coverage for your business.
Here are four tips to help you successfully do your own PR:
Research your local media
The first thing you should do is to find out what local media exists, including newspapers, radio stations and TV stations. You can do this via the internet and/or social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Try and find out the names and direct contact details of specific journalists rather than a generic email address or number. If you are part of a franchise network, ask your marketing or corporate affairs team to give you the contact details of your local journalists. You should also have a look at the stories that a publication covers to make sure you aren't sending press releases or story ideas that won't appeal to them.
Once you have a list of journalists, you should contact them to establish a relationship. An email is generally the best form of introducing yourself, as journalists are typically very busy individuals. Journalists regularly seek comments from experts across an array of topics and issues. Therefore, a great way to connect with a reporter is to present yourself as a local guru on a particular topic such as property or finance.
Write a press release or a pitch an idea
If you are serious about media, an effective method for getting press coverage is to pitch a news idea or write a simple press release. You can increase your chances of having your media release read if it's well written, punchy, targeted to the right journalist and publication, and not sales-orientated. Ensure you use facts and statistics to add authenticity to your story and don't forget the why – why is this a story, why is it important to the industry, or the community? Another tip is to tie your pitch to a current news story or event that is being covered.
You may think that you can send an email to a media outlet and expect a call back or an email reply. News rooms are busy places so sometimes you may need to call a journalist and follow up on your pitches. If, after several attempts, you receive no response, it is best to assume the journalist wasn't interested in the story. You can always try a different outlet or try pitch the story again with a different angle later on.