Many small business owners struggle with how to market their business, and how to get their local media to view them as a viable, and valuable resource. Many marketing and public relations experts will often suggest to small business owners the importance of having both an online and offline media presence, but often never explain how to accomplish this goal.
Here are some helpful tips to get your small business recognized by your local media outlets:
1. Get To Know Them! Establish a relationship. Go meet with the journalists and editors in person! Many newspapers and magazines have a specific person that writes all of the business stories for the publication. If your local media has a specific person designated for this purpose, reach out to them and offer information about your business. Tell them what you would consider to be your areas of expertise. If they don't have a designated person to write these stories, go speak with the editor. Call the editor and ask them for a face-to-face meeting, where you have the opportunity to explain your business in a more personal manner. It is all about building and maintaining these types of relationships. If you, as a business owner, aren't sending the business correct personal updates about your business, then they have no reason to seek out anything further from you.
2. Maintain The Relationships: Once you have established a relationship with the media outlet, you must keep in contact with them, and maintain that relationship in order for them to view you and your business as a resource to them. Send (or pitch) them story ideas, as frequently as you can come up with them. Offer the writer a different angle to a story, even if the angle doesn't involve your business. If you are helpful, useful, and beneficial to the writer, they are much more likely to return to you for future stories and follow-ups. You can also offer to connect the writer with experts that you know, again showing them that you are a valuable source for the publication.
3. Be Prepared: Have a press packet, otherwise known as a media kit, ready to hand out to media. Business Inside has published a great story on how to put together your own media kit. A few important items you should definitely include in your media kit are: company logos (in various formats), company/individual biographies, a current press release, and a fact sheet about your company. A link to the complete article can be found here.
A more in-depth guide to working with the media can be found at http://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/Media_Guide.pdf. This guide is designed for national non-profit organizations attempting to gain media coverage, but the suggestions and advice are great for nearly any type of business, and can definitely be applied when dealing with small business marketing and public relations issues.
Jennifer Thompson is a Paragould, Arkansas native, and graduate of Arkansas State University with a degree in strategic communications.
She has worked in the field of journalism around Northeast Arkansas for the past 15 years as a writer and editor. She is currently a public relations specialist and freelance writer.