As a small business, one of the biggest challenges is building brand awareness and getting your company noticed. You are competing with millions of other businesses that want to sell something to your target market, so it’s vital your would-be customers and clients know about you and what you do.
How do you build brand awareness for your small business and ensure potential customers choose you?
One of the best and most affordable ways for small businesses to promote their brand is getting a mention in the news. Through Public Relations (PR), businesses can generate unpaid coverage and get millions of eyes on your brand. News coverage puts a spotlight on your brand and for customers, having your company mentioned in an article or bulletin, makes it seem more trustworthy than advertising or marketing.
PR Guru, Leisa Goddard explains “Media coverage and earned media have more credibility compared to paid advertising.”
“Getting your business covered, or at least mentioned, in high-profile news articles or other publications can be a massive benefit for your brand,” she said.
“It’s an opportunity to get your name out there and build your brand.”
Here is a 4 step plan to get your business in the news.
Write a media release
A Media Release is a quick, direct way to communicate your business’ news with media outlets.
The key to a good Media Release is finding a newsworthy angle – failure to do this and your story is unlikely to be picked up by journalists. It is important to have a strong angle that will make your business and news story stand out. It should demonstrate why your news story matters. It’s important to include quotes, which will add a human element to your news and substantiate your story.
When is it worth writing a Media Release?
Here are some examples of when it might be appropriate to write a Media Release:
- You are launching your business
- Your business is opening a new location or changing locations
- Your business is launching a new service or product
- Your business is hosting or sponsoring a local event
- Your business is starting a charity initiative
- Your business is rebranding or expanding
- Any other big news that people should know about.
In addition to your Media Release, every small business should have a Media Kit. A Media Kit is simple to put together and can improve the chances of a journalist telling your story. The goal of your Media Kit is to provide journalists with resources needed to share your story accurately and professionally.
What does a Media Kit include?
- A fact sheet including key information about your business (including your mission statement)
- Bios for the leadership members on your team
- Your company logo
- High-quality images (for example, headshots of your leadership team, product photos, and pictures of your team working)
Compile a list of media targets
When you’re done writing your Media Release, start thinking about how you’re going to distribute it. Compile a list of all the relevant media outlets and journalists, including newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, and websites.
It’s important to consider your target audience when choosing who to target. Think about the types of media they are likely to use and consume. For small businesses, it’s important to think local – as this is where you’re likely to have the most success. Build a list of local news outlets and journalists in your area.
To find your target media and their contact details, visit the media outlets’ websites. If that doesn’t work, try LinkedIn or Twitter. It’s also handy to consider deadlines.
Perfect your pitch
Once you have your list sorted, it’s time to craft your pitch and send your Media Release. It’s important to craft a compelling pitch that sparks the journalist’s interest. It should concisely tell the recipient why they should be interested in your story and where they can find more information.
What should a pitch include?
- Personalised greeting: Each pitch should be personalised for the recipient. Acknowledge them by name and if relevant, mention recent stories of theirs that might be relevant.
- Eye-catching subject line: Journalists receive hundreds of pitches a day, so it’s important you have an attention-grabbing subject line. Your subject line must indicate what the email is about and interest the recipient enough to open it to learn more.
- Body copy with important information: The email body should contain the key details of your story and why the journalist and their audience should care. Make sure to include a link or attach your Media Kit so that, if they chose to run your story, they can get more information.
- Media Release: A pitch needs to include your Media Release, so ensure it’s attached.
- Contact details: Leave your name, number, and email so the journalists and media can get in touch. They’ll need a way to reach you if they need any extra information or want to do an interview.
Send and follow up
You’ve done the bulk of the work now – it’s time to hit send. Make sure to send your pitch early enough for journos to meet deadlines.
Consider sending in the morning then follow up later in the day. Following up with a phone call is a great way to ensure your email doesn’t get buried. When you call, ask if the journalists have all they need to run the story and invite them to ask questions and do an interview.
Ideally, you will hear from journalists after sending them the pitch and Media Release, without having to chase. When they reach out, it’s important you are available so be ready to reply promptly.
If a journalist seeks an interview, try to identify what they want to discuss so that you can prepare and practise responses. Typically, when a journalist decides to run your story, they will have a specific angle in mind with questions to follow suit.
Practising your answers out loud can help you identify any problems or difficult-to-say phrases. Journalists are often time-poor, so remember to keep your answers informative but short. The best answers are clear, concise and confident.
While there is no such thing as guaranteed media coverage, following these 4 steps will definitely put your small business on track to get noticed. And when you do, it’s best practice to reach out and thank the journalist for running your story. Not only is it polite, but establishing media contacts is invaluable for your business and future PR opportunities.
For small businesses, executing a PR strategy and earning media coverage can help expose your brand to a previously unreachable audience. It can help your brand be seen by a huge audience without the big price tag typically attached to marketing and advertising. A successful PR strategy leads to not only exposure for your brand, but credibility as well.