No matter how wonderful your company is, and no matter how great your product or service, you can only get so far by tooting your own horn with advertising and marketing. To truly get your business the attention and respect it deserves, you’ll need to get objective third-party validation.
While customer reviews and testimonials can be extremely helpful, especially when they are posted on reputable independent sites, they too are only part of the puzzle. The final (and some say key piece) is getting your company covered by a professional journalist in a high-profile newspaper, magazine or website, or in a key industry publication.
Whether you go about this by getting yourself quoted as an expert in your field, or getting your product or service mentioned as a solution to a common problem, it is no easy task. Journalists are busy, have short deadlines, and deal with tons of “noise” from the throngs of public relations professionals trying to grab attention (often for less than attention-worthy causes).
So, how do you standout and make yourself truly useful as a source? A recent Forbes post, The 12-Step Insider’s Guide To Getting Press Coverage, provides useful tips from a former editor. It begins with the most basic advice of contacting a journalist with something that solves a problem and finding a “peg” on which to hang your story. The post goes on to help you refine and strengthen your pitch with advice on how to write it (pick a theme, keep it short, use numbers) and how to cultivate the editor (stroke their egos, be a source, keep it real).
One key piece of advice is to give journalists what they want. While you can spend mountains of time trying to figure that out, it is far easier for them to simply tell you. If you establish a great relationship, you might get a call or an email. To cast a wider net, you can subscribe to the Help a Reporter Out (HARO) list covered in depth in the February 6, 2012 TIP. You simply provide basic contact information and your email address, you get an email each day with a list of requests from writers and editors working on articles, online content, TV content, books, and more. If you have something pertinent to contribute, use the email address listed to reply. If the writer uses your contribution, you may be quoted directly, your business may become part of the story, or at the very least you’ll get your contact and company information listed. Sign up for the free HARO list here.
Now that you have a hook for contacting journalists, and a guide for how to best work with them, start getting your small business story out today!