Marketing is often a real challenge for small businesses. How do you reach the right audience at a price point that works for your budget? There are many different avenues for marketing exposure, from PPC to Facebook advertising, to guerrilla methods. But good old fashioned PR may be the best bet for your company. Here, we look at how to get press coverage that gives your business the exposure it needs, in the publications that matter.
Understand what journalists want
There are some essential ‘ingredients’ that make a news story and these are what journalists look for in a press release. Human interest is key as journalists want the people angle. They also look for what is new, research to support or challenge thinking. Your job is to give them positive ingredients that support your story and avoid the negative elements.
Know the audience
Stories must be relevant and of interest to the publication’s audience. There must also be a ‘peg’ for the story – a reason for the story to be reported. You can create a ‘peg’ by linking your story to, for example, current topics in the news or forthcoming events, or even some research that has been issued.
It’s important to review copies of publications you want to target to get a feel for the types of stories that will be of interest, as well as the profile of the readership.
Building your press list
You’ll probably be familiar with many of the publications that are relevant, such as local news or trade press. There are a number of sources to help you add to your listing. Vuelio is a useful reference guide for individuals and companies in the press and media – helping you reach journalists, editors, bloggers, national and local press. JournoLink is also a useful tool for small businesses looking to get through to the media contacts that can help them get exposure.
Researching your press contacts
Approach your target publications to check out the most relevant person for you to contact, their contact details and their preferred method of receiving information. It’s important, too, to find out deadlines and publication dates. This helps to avoid annoying journalists by phoning them when they are up against their deadline. Don’t be afraid to contact journalists to check if particular topics are of interest.
Issuing press releases with punch
Your press release should be presented in a way that makes it as easy as possible for a journalist to use – that means following some basic rules:
- Capturing the essence of the story in the first paragraph
- Avoiding jargon and keeping to the facts
- Using statistics to back up your story where possible
- Avoiding making claims about your business that you cannot back up
- Including contact details at the bottom of the release and ensuring that you are available for follow-up calls.
Supporting the press release
It’s useful to give some thought to how you can support any press release or approach you make to a journalist. Offering an interview, case study, third-party quote or photograph are all worth considering.
Building relationships with journalists
If you can provide journalists with news on a regular basis, deliver on your promises and make yourself available for interview and comment, then you will build a reputation as a useful contact. Don’t feel intimidated by the thought of approaching a journalist. If you research your target press thoroughly, and package your news and ideas to suit, then you will be putting yourself in the best position to secure positive press coverage for your business.
Press Coverage Case Study
Here, Gavin Mullins, CEO of online review platform Eooro.com, discusses how he used a PR agency to leverage the power of the press and boost the marketing exposure of his business.
Eooro.com is an online reviews platform for small business owners, allowing them to collect on-the-spot reviews for a very low cost to build trust and reputation.
We are an online business and a challenger brand offering a different approach to getting online reviews. We’ve invested a lot in search marketing and our website, but PR offers us the potential to not only get visibility and build credibility, but high-quality backlinks to significantly enhance our organic search rankings. We went with a very small agency that were recommended to us by another business associate because they do a lot of work with small business owners.
“We definitely saw an improvement to our search rankings and site traffic”
We worked together to discuss how to position Eooro and focused on us as ‘championing the needs of SMEs’ with a low-cost way to build reputation online. They created and placed articles in publications read by small business owners, in which we commented on a wide array of business and consumer issues relating to online reviews.
The articles highlighted our USPs without being overly salesy and included a backlink from the publication as a highly regarded domain. It positioned us as small business growth experts and we commented on everything from Black Friday sales, nomadic working and what was happening on The Apprentice to offering advice on using user generated content for increasing conversion rates and why negative reviews are actually good for brand reputation.
Over a three-month period, Eooro reached well over 2.5 million CEOs with the press coverage and we definitely saw an improvement to our search rankings and site traffic. We’ve also used the coverage to demonstrate our credentials with an ‘as featured in’ section on our website, which we expand as new pieces are published. It’s a way to immediately win confidence and reassure potential buyers when they research suppliers.