Small business owners often wonder how to get more media attention for their small business. Just because you are a modest-sized business, though, doesn’t mean that you should only aim for small localized coverage. There is nothing wrong with branching out beyond your immediate market and aiming bigger as well.
The truth is that while there is no real substitute for getting a smart and dedicated PR professional to focus on helping you to promote your small business, you can still do a remarkable amount on your own by starting with a few simple techniques that the pros use:
1. Watch the editorial calendars
Larger publications and those with a longer lead time (like magazines) are typically put together weeks or even months in advance. Most of them will publish what is called an editorial calendar, that shares what they will be writing about in upcoming issues. Think of it as a sneak peek into what stories will get published…and also a way for you to position your business as a potential part of one or more of those upcoming stories.
2. Create an influencer/reporter watch list
Reporters are sometimes assigned “beats” to cover, which generally refers to which topics they write about. Try to create a short list of five to 10 journalists who often write about topics that are relevant to your business or your region if the majority of your customers are local to a particular area. A good place to start is a website called www.muckrack.com, which lists all the journalists who are using social media tools activel offering an easy way to watch what they write about and eventually reach out to them as well.
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3. Build personal connections
In the world of media, the old cliché of “it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you” really applies. The more personal connections you can have with journalists, either through meeting in person if you happen to be at the same events, or virtually if you are able to connect over e-mail or social media…the more likely you are to be considered as a source for an upcoming story.
4. Pitch with headlines and impact
When it comes to “the pitch,” as an e-mail or phone call to a journalist trying to convince them to talk about your small business, think in terms of headlines. What is the macro trend or story that you are trying to be a part of? Ideally, it is bigger than just your business and something new and relevant. This is the one step where you can get the most benefit from professional help (along with hiring someone with the right media connections, of course).
5. Make your own coverage.
Getting mentioned in a piece that a journalist writes can be great media exposure, but we also live in a world where you can make your own coverage. This means starting to use tools like blogs and Twitter to share a strong point of view and expertise. If social media isn’t for you, consider penning a guest article or opinion piece to be published in a relevant media source. All of these can be excellent ways of getting the message about your business out without relying on a journalist to include you in a story.