My company, Unique Markets, holds pop-up shopping markets in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York several times a year. The markets, which are made up of 350 U.S.-based vendors selling everything from jams to jewelry, have been profitable since the first one (Unique LA) opened in 2008, in part due to the media coverage they attract. My businesses and I are featured in magazines, radio, TV and websites almost every month, yet I don't employ a public relations agency. For me, getting media coverage is all about continually reaching out to new people and getting your story heard. Here's how I do it.
1. Research and make a wish list.
You can’t start getting press for your business if you don't know what type of press you want to get. Visit a bookstore and look at all the magazines and newspapers that exist. Flip through them to understand what types of content they feature and whether you and your business would be a fit. Does the publication feature products? Is there a column that features local businesses? What are the local morning TV shows and what types of people and products do they feature? Once you've researched media, create a wish list of where you’d like your business to appear.
2. Brainstorm ideas.
Editors often work off editorial calendars, which can often be found online in a media kit. Think of ideas to send to editors, or pitch, based on the calendar year. For instance, January is always about starting fresh and getting healthy, while July is about vacation and eating outdoors. Figure out ways to pitch yourself for every month of the year and holidays like Valentine's Day or Cyber Monday. The more ideas you can brainstorm, the better. The idea is often the hardest part.
3. Pitch, pitch, pitch.
Keep your pitch short and simple. Be personal, introduce yourself and get straight to the point. State exactly what section your pitch is for and answer the five Ws (who, what, why, when, where). Don’t attach photography (many corporate email systems will instantly flag attachments and your email may never even make it to the recipient), but you can embed one or two low resolution (web-sized) photos within the body of the email for a visual reference. Make sure to give your website address, spell the editor's name correctly and state that you have both high resolution and web-sized photography available.
Once you’ve sent your email, you've done your job by providing ideas, information and all the facts, so an editor will either bite or not. Remember that it's business, not friendship, so don’t take rejection personally and simply keep pitching.
4. Use great photography—it speaks volumes.
Your photography needs to be professional and captivating, whether it's of products or a photo of you. In the era of Pinterest and Instagram, visuals are everything. One of the first things an editor will judge your company and quality on will be photography. Your job is to make an editor's job easy, so having the right style of images is very important.
Product photography should be shot against a plain white backdrop. When it comes to headshots and portraits, it's a good idea to have two different types of photography: studio shots of yourself against a white wall and photos of yourself in a colorful environment. Remember that you are the heart and soul of your company, and your story is unique and compelling. You absolutely need professional headshots and portraits so when a press opportunity hits you are prepared and can send editors great photos within the day.
Read more about how Sonja Rasula brings local businesses to a big audience.