If someone offered you free positive publicity for your business, with the opportunity to reach a wide and varied audience, you’d probably jump at the chance. This type of publicity is available to everyone and you don’t need to be an expert in order to achieve it.

People can spend a small fortune buying advertising in local media but, as a former journalist, I know that it’s possible to get great coverage without spending a penny.

Here are my top tips to help you achieve this.

1. Know your media

It’s important to research your local media and create a media list.

Think about where you get your news. Ask your target group where they get their news. Look at what is on their desk when you visit them or find them online and see which social media they “hang-out” in. As well as newspapers, television and radio, consider other opportunities, for example, community websites, free magazines, blogs, online news sites. 
Once you’ve put together a media list, start to build it up.

Find contact information for each medium and get in touch. Journalists are always looking for stories, so give them a call. Get a name and personal email address; introduce yourself. Find out what they are interested in and what stories and features they are running. Get to know them and allow them to get to know you. Journalists are more likely to be interested in your story if they know who you are.

When you have this information, store it in your media list, so you can refer to it when you need to.

2. Find your story
Every business has a story.

Have you won an award, expanded your workforce, raised money for charity? All of this is newsworthy and portrays your business in a positive light.

You can also promote your business indirectly. For example, do you have an unusual hobby? When a journalist interviews you, they will ask what you do for a living, so you have the opportunity to mention your business.

3. Bringing your story to the media’s attention
Once you’ve found your story and built your list of media contacts, how do you go about getting your story into the media?

Here are three key points to remember:

  • Timing – promote your story within a week of it happening and make sure you stick to media deadlines. Make sure you ask your journalist contacts what their deadlines are.
  • Picture – The saying that a “picture is worth a thousand words” is true. Think of interesting picture or filming opportunities and avoid the generic “cheque presentation”.
  • Press release – write a press release and send it out. Keep it short, focus on your story and make sure you include all the relevant information. The easier you make it for the media, the more likely they are to run your story. Include contact details and a quote which is interesting and relevant to your story.

4. Follow up
If the media deadline passes and you haven’t seen your story, don’t be afraid to ask your contacts whether they plan to use it. Take note of what they tell you and bear it in mind for future stories.

Sometimes your story may not have been what the journalists were looking for and, at other times, your press release simply won’t be used because there are other, bigger stories taking precedent.

Don’t let this put you off – keep trying and eventually you will succeed.

Morwenna Tudor is a Marketing and PR Consultant with KMS Marketing.

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