Getting press coverage for a growing business is no mean feat, and putting your business out there can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before. We promise you’ll be well on your way by the time you’ve finished reading this piece.
Having your company’s name in the right place is a sure-fire way to get a rewarding level of exposure, and it goes without saying that fewer the costs involved, the better it is for your business.
The below pointers will give you a good head-start on the whys and whens of getting media coverage that won’t cost you a penny. Combine this knowledge with our handy press release walkthrough, and you’ll be full armed to tackle the media in no time at all! Let’s get started.
Know your audience
Find out what media your audience are consuming – even if you need to ask them individually. Do they scour the local paper, or tune into the radio? Perhaps your work is industry specific – in which case, a trade magazine might be the easiest way to reach them.
Approach media with a story too early and it gets forgotten. Too late and, even worse, you’ve missed the boat.
A ‘Lead time’ is the time difference between pitching an idea and publication/broadcast. Online media lead time can be as little as an hour or two, while consumer magazines can sometimes work 5 months in advance.
The best way to find out when to pitch is simply to ring up and ask, or risk being left on the cutting room floor.
What’s your story?
Ask yourself – is this really news? News is timely, interesting to a wide or specific audience and not overly commercial. You must look at your story impartially, as editorial media won’t run anything that looks like an advert for your business.
Examples that could work include:
- Promotions/appointments – of interest to local and trade media
- New product launches
- CSR activities – e.g. You’ve just raised £3,000 for a local charity, or a team from your company are taking part in a charity challenge
- Award wins/shortlisting
- Company news – e.g. Contract wins, expansion of premises/network, recruitment drive, results
- Responding to local or market situations
No news to report? Keep abreast of the current news and try out comment pieces, offering your business as a spokesperson if the news piece is related to your industry or area.
A picture is worth a thousand words – and a good picture is worth getting picked up by the media.
Make sure you include a photo with your press release, and that it’s of high quality (no low-res pics or they won’t be good enough to be accepted). It’s definitely worth getting a professional in, if you have no good amateur photographers on hand.
Time to pick up the phone. You’ll want to make an editorial, not commercial contact (for example, the news or business editor on a newspaper) and let them know that you’ve got a story that might be of interest to them.
After a brief summary, they can establish whether it has a chance of running and you can then send them over a detailed press release (more on this very shortly…)
Don’t let your efforts go to waste – keep a track of where your business news gets picked up.
A good tip for online tracking is to use a free tool such as Google Alerts, which will let you know whenever your company name gets mentioned online. Remember, different lead times mean that you may have to wait a while before you see yourself in print.
What if your story doesn’t get picked up? Try pitching it somewhere else, or try again with another story.
Now that you’re equipped with the basics, take note of our press release template below and you will be good to go. Good luck!
Press Release Template: The ten step walk-through
The first thing that the media will need to know – is this current or old news?
Briefly label your story. For example: Joe Blogs & Co bolsters senior team
3. Opening paragraph
A summary of your story that’s short and to the point. For example: Northampton-based retailer, Joe Blogs & Co, has appointed two new team members to strengthen its management team and continue providing quality service for its customers.
4. Following paragraphs
Depending on how big your story is, use the next 2-3 paragraphs to outline more detail. For example, if issuing a press release about new appointments, give some details about your new recruits, their new roles and what they’ll be doing.
5. Quote from relevant person in business
Remember to include their name and title in the business, and have them explain why this change/update/progression is important. Avoid anything negative or irrelevant to the story.
6. Second quote (if relevant)
Only add in another quote if strictly relevant. For example, if your new appointment is moving into a particularly senior position, you may want to include a line or two from them about why they’re joining the company.
7. Closing paragraph
A bit about you – what does your company do, and how long has it been doing it? Add your website address as a source of any further information.
‘ENDS’ indicates that your press release is finished.
9. Notes to Editors
Here’s a good place to include any contact information for the media. For example: For further media information, please contact XXXXX, Joe Blogs & Co.
10. Lastly, add your company boilerplate – that is, the brief version of your company overview that includes how long the business has been in operation and its core services. Essentially, this is an ‘about us’ section: as with the rest of your press release, keep it brief, informative and relevant.