These days we are faced with a wide range of media channels. More than ever before. It’s a minefield. But there are ways to cut through…
It’s a tough old business
Firstly, perception switch.
Think of things from the media’s point of view. Media has become a very tough business over the past decade or so, having undergone immense disruption and change. Many media organisations are running very thin indeed with very few resources. Barely clinging on in fact. No one has been immune – everyone from the local newspaper, magazine, TV station, radio channels and every other form of media has been struggling for a shrinking pie.
If you want to get your message out via the media, you have to be far more subtle than merely bashing out a press release to the local paper (although that can still work, to a degree, if done correctly).
Some business owners are (understandably) a bit shy or nervous about gaining media attention, but if you research and then select the most appropriate journalists, control the interaction between yourselves and the media channel, and have a clear goal in mind, things need not be problematical.
It is fairly easy these days to gain positive media coverage if you know a few ‘tricks of the trade’. The ideal is to have a drip feed of positive stories about your business over time. This all adds to your brand and name recognition, which can be helpful in all kinds of ways.
Having an editorial about your business has about four times the value than a paid for promotional ad of the same size.
Remember, the media is not there to give you free promotion though.
Most of their business models rely on them gaining a significant readership in their local area or niche, then charging advertisers for publishing promotional messages to that audience.
The media understands all too well that businesses would love to circumvent their advertising models and get free exposure in their online and offline media, and at their events.
Therefore, be aware that your message should not be too ‘self-promotional’. It should be informational and targeted at the specific audience of the media in question.
Put yourself in their shoes.
Before you approach any media, make sure you have answered these questions:
- Why is your story of interest to their readers?
- What is the ‘angle’?
- Is the story given exclusively to this media source, or is it for general release?
- Why is this particular story relevant to this particular media source?
- How can you help the media organisation towards their own goals?
Treat journalists like clients
With a little research, you can find out which writers, journalists and online influencers are relevant in each local media source (the daily newspaper, the business journal, the local free paper, various online news sites and blogs…)
Think about your local media contacts as if they are clients of yours. Contact them, take them out for a coffee or lunch. Send them a personally written Christmas card each year (yes, really.)
Ask them what kinds of stories they like to write about, and then, when the time is right, feed them this story. Don’t overdo it, but have enough stories and writers to keep you in the lime light over time.
A steady drip of positive news stories does wonders for your company’s credibility, brand awareness and positioning.
Plus your staff, shareholders, board, management team and clients will love it too. You will also find that this reputation will precede you, so that it will easier to attract higher quality staff, clients and investors as well.
It’s all ‘hidden’ to some degree, but it adds up and it is real.
Imagine someone (a potential client or employee or investor) researching your business online. What will they fund? If they discover a good deal of positive news stories written by independent media, this will only enhance your brand in their eyes.
Part Two in this series gives you 15 pieces of advice for approaching the media.