How to get media interest in your business
Getting a story published in the media – on TV, radio, magazines, digital news outlets – isn’t as difficult as you might believe.
As long as you understand some important things about the media business.
"News flash: All businesses have something that is of interest to the media," says Sue.
Many business owners believe that in order to get a story about themselves published or broadcast in the media they must have done something special, or they must be the biggest and best in their industry.
Some people are just intimidated at the thought of appearing in a digital news web site, a newspaper or being promoted on a TV show like Sunrise.
They also commonly believe that getting into the media costs money – either by having to spend on advertising, or by hiring an expensive PR firm.
The reality is that every business is the keeper of some great stories that the media would love.
It’s simply a case of accessing some insider journalist secrets and being open to the idea that your business could sky rocket as a result of some well-placed free promotion in the guise of a news story.
The majority of the stories in a newspaper are simply interesting pieces of information that their audience will find useful.
There are always the big news stories of the day, such as a natural disaster, political issues or court cases, but I estimate that around 40 to 50 per cent of news space is devoted to stories which result from a press release.
This is even more-so the case in light of cost-cutting and job losses at newspapers around the country.
With fewer journalists available to create the same amount of content, they will be less proactive in finding stories and more reactive to press releases sent to them.
Each day there are hundreds of stories appearing in the media that have resulted from press releases.
So, what do you put into a press release?
The first step is to realise that the process of getting free publicity is not about you at all – it’s about the audience of the newspaper or magazine you’re targeting.
Many business owners think they need make some kind of announcement in a press release. In fact, making an announcement of any kind should be avoided.
Announcements, such as moving to a new office, or hiring a new employee or launching a new web site are not interesting to many people beyond the business owner, their employees and family.
The first key is finding a newsworthy story angle.
Here is a four-step guide to coming up with something newsworthy:
1. Think about what’s happening in the news right now and how you can become a part of the story. For example, the economy and interest rates are always in the news. As interest rates rise, media outlets are looking for angles that help their audience cope. There are stories about how to shop on a budget, how to get the best mortgage deal, where to find the cheapest whitegoods, how to cut your power bill – the list goes on. Think of a solution that your business provides to people during tough economic times and then make this the basis of a media release.
2. Think about current consumer trends. Where are consumers heading? Are they more interested in the environment, saving water (a big one for gardeners in summer), home renovating, self improvement, technical gadgets, or social media? Journalists love to be the first with news about the latest trends.
3. Provide a comment. If there’s a story in the news that affects your business or impacts on your customers, put together some considered opinions and include them in a media release on the issue. Often, a media outlet will want to feature a story time and again and need a new angle to keep it going. If you listen to talk-back radio, there are countless opportunities to express your opinion every day.
4. Make the news yourself. If you have a decent-sized database, run a poll of your clients on issues that relate to your business and then create a news story about it. For example, I recently saw a Subiaco real estate company conduct a poll on the re-naming of Subiaco Oval. They surveyed their subscribers to see if they were in favour of the new name. The results were included in a story in the local paper. The real estate company only has a loose connection with the issue, but they made the topic their own and by doing so, received some excellent free exposure for their business.
Once you have a great newsworthy angle, the next step is to prepare a press release to send to media.
Journalists prefer to receive information about your business in the right kind of format.
Here’s my 10-step plan to writing a good media release.
1. Get the layout right: You need the following:
a) A headline sentence in bold
b) An opening paragraph in bold
c) Text that supports your headline and opening paragraph
d) Contact details
2. Create a great headline: The headline should sum up the media release contents in a concise manner – just as a newspaper headline does. Keep it to one short sentence.
3. Write a snappy opening sentence. Your opening sentence can be just as important as the headline in attracting interest from a journalist who may scan this alone and determine whether or not the entire story is of interest. Remember also, these words are also indexed by search engines so if you’re putting your release online, add some key words.
4. Support your headline and opener with quality text: The remaining text supports your story and must answer the questions of who, what, when, where, how and why. Write the text in the format used by your target media outlet. For example if you’re targeting an online news website write it as they do.
5. Use quotations. Quote yourself high-up in the release – in the second or third sentence. Keep quotes short, sharp and newsworthy (often referred to by the media as a ‘grab’ which summarises the main point of the story).
6. Include an expert if possible. If you can find a third party to support your position it will give you and your release instant credibility and move it away from being a promotional piece into the realm of serious news story.
7. Provide full contact details. Include your name, landline, mobile phone number, email address and web address
8. Try to keep it to one page. More than 1.5 pages and a journalist just won’t read it.
9. Offer images and make yourself available for an interview. Often, a journalist will want to do an interview rather than lifting quotes directly from a media release. A media outlet may be happy to use your images, or they may want to take photographs themselves, so make yourself available
10. Send it out. Develop a list of targeted media outlets who regularly write about your topic.
The process of getting published comes down to understanding that you already possess a huge amount of interesting and useful information interesting to the media.
Journalists love to run stories that their audience likes to read and will help solve problems, therefore your information can easily be turned into a news story, as long as it is relevant to the media’s target audience.
Package your interesting information into a well-crafted press release and it’s not so difficult to get published in a newspaper or magazine, or broadcast on TV or radio.
Sue Papadoulis is a former journalist who empowers and motivates others to take their game to the next level by using the power of free publicity. Sue is Australia’s leading specialist in helping entrepreneurs generate free publicity. To find out about her live seminars around Australia and to access her special report “The Five Biggest Secrets to Getting Free Publicity in the Media” visit www.publicityforprofit.com.au