Small Business…Big Coverage!
This guest post comes to us from Jon Gelberg, Chief Content Officer at Blue Fountain Media.
I am not saying anything revolutionary when I say that positive publicity can be a gold mine for businesses large and small.
P.T. Barnum- credited as the father of modern public relations- put it best: “I am indebted to the press of the United States for almost every dollar which I possess.”
Barnum’s words have never rung more true.
In today’s highly competitive economy, businesses look for every possible edge on the competition. Positive press can provide a huge boost to any business. It can turn an unknown start-up into an overnight sensation. It can build credibility. It can get the attention of a huge untapped market.
Twenty years ago, there were precious few outlets for businesses looking for publicity. There were a limited number of magazines, newspapers, television stations and radio stations and large, established businesses seemed to have a near monopoly on press coverage.
With the advent of the internet, the playing field has been nearly leveled.
There are hundreds of television and radio stations and thousands (if not millions) of web sites and bloggers looking for stories.
The good news is that you don’t have to be Apple or Google or Sony to get the attention of the press. All you need is an understanding of how the press (and online media) works and how best to get on their radar.
Do Your Homework
To get media coverage, you must take the time to find out who is writing about subjects relating to your business.
A few great tools for finding this out are HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and Muck Rack. HARO provides three daily e-mails in which reporters/bloggers looking for expert sources present their queries. Expert sources are then given the opportunity to “pitch” the reporter/blogger.
Muck Rack is a site that aggregates the Twitter feeds of reporters from a wide variety of media outlets. This gives you the opportunity to see what they are talking about and responding to them- in real time.
For “cold calls,” the best way to proceed is to find out the online editor for the media outlet you are looking to pitch. For example, if you are going after a business story, every major newspaper and online media outlet has a business editor. Also, if your business serves a certain niche (children, women, health, etc.) then find the reporters/editors covering those beats.
There are many handy online tools to help you find lists of online reporters and editors. Here are four of my favorites:
Once you’ve targeted a journalist or blogger, then it is your job to convince them of two things:
- You’ve got a great idea for a story
- You’re the person worth featuring/quoting in that story.
What makes for a great pitch? There are no hard and fast rules, but there are certain key guidelines that have worked for me.
Great Headlines or Subject Lines: Reporters get dozens of pitches each day. Give them something that catches their attention (a variation on “Make them an offer they can’t refuse”).
Flattery Works: Believe it or not, reporters like to be complimented on their work. Take the time to familiarize yourself with some of the articles written by that reporter. Mention a specific article or subject matter that reporter has written about. Tell the reporter how your insights or your business would fit in well with the kind of stories he/she has already written.
Demonstrate Your Expertise: Give specifics on your background and accomplishments. If you’ve been published, provide links to articles you’ve written yourself. If you’ve been quoted elsewhere, provide links to those as well.
Spoon Feed the Reporter: Give the reporter detailed information on the subject you’re pitching. Tell the story of your business or your services. Provide informative and entertaining quotes.
Keep Up With the Trends: Remember that the heart of “news” is “new.” Keep abreast of the latest trends. See the topics people are most interested in writing about If you have expertise in those areas, then tell the reporter your unique perspective.
We have used these strategies at Blue Fountain Media and they have worked extremely well for us. In the past year, we have been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Inc., Crain’s New York Business, and many other major media outlets.
Remember, reporters are always looking for stories and sources. But they are looking for quality stories and sources so make sure you have the expertise to be of real value to the reporter/blogger. Otherwise, you’ll just be one more pitch that goes in the recycle bin!
Jon Gelberg is the Chief Content Officer for Blue Fountain Media, a leading web development, design and online marketing firm based in Manhattan. Jon brings over 20 years of content experience, working as a journalist, publisher, communications specialist and editor. He has been working in the digital space since the late 90s. Many of his articles can be found in Blue Fountain Media’s Business Learning Center.
Communications Best Practices
Get the latest updates on PR, communications and marketing best practices.
Cision Product News
Keep up with everything Cision. Check here for the most current product news.
Thought leadership and communications strategy for the C-suite written by the C-suite.
A blog for and about the media featuring trends, tips, tools, media moves and more.