Andy Warhol is famous for having (possibly) said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” You may never reach Warhol-level fame, but getting media coverage for your business can mean a boon for both your revenue and your reputation.
Media expert Christina Nicholson, of Media Maven PR firm, says small businesses should think of media coverage as a referral. “It’s not you saying you’re great. It’s someone else saying you’re great. Your credibility is instant when a known, liked, and trusted source features you.”
Steps to earning media coverage
Once you’re comfortable with the idea of being in the media and you have a newsworthy announcement to make—whether you’re opening a second location or debuting a new, state-of-the-art service—there are a few steps to getting media coverage, without having to hire a large (and possibly expensive) media relations firm.
1. Write and send engaging press releases
Press releases might seem antiquated, but a good press release helps summarize what’s unique about your business or product, while also boosting your brand and website. There are an array of online guides and templates to help you build the perfect press release, but at the minimum, a great press release should contain:
- A catchy headline
- A short opening paragraph that summarizes the point of the press release
- Body copy that explains and supports the opening paragraph with more detail
- Contact information, website, and social media links
For inspiration, you can also research press releases distributed by other like-minded companies. Once your copy is drafted, make a list of recipients, and include people in your industry, like bloggers or influencers, as well as local media outlets. If you have the budget, you can use a distribution channel like ereleases.com, which can target your press release by industry or location.
2. Establish an active social media presence
Use your social media platforms to spread news about your business, and establish yourself as a subject matter expert by writing blogs or posts about your business or industry news.
Your business’s social accounts should follow all of your local media channels and reporters that cover your industry on a regular basis. For example, if you are a personal trainer or own a gym, you should follow reporters who cover fitness, health, and wellness. This will put your business on their radar, as well as give you a good idea of the kinds of stories they cover.
Also be sure to post on your social media accounts often. If there is breaking news in your industry, you should be among the first to address it online and on social media. Talk about how it impacts your customers and what your business is doing to respond to this event.
3. Build a relationship with reporters
News reporters on any platform are constantly looking for reliable sources with expertise in their industry, but if they don’t know you or trust you, they might not use you as a source. It’s important to build a genuine relationship with reporters and podcasters so they trust your information.
Wendy Guarisco of the Guarisco Group, a media relations firm in Atlanta, advises business owners and experts to treat reporters as you would any relationship or friendship. “Don’t just connect with journalists on social media and think that constitutes a relationship. Interact with them. Comment on their stories, share their posts. This is especially true of relationships with the reporter at your local affiliate.”
You can also use new websites like HARO (Help a Reporter Out), which works to connect journalists and bloggers with reliable sources by topic. Most sites have a free option to try before committing to a monthly subscription.
What happens when the coverage of my business is negative?
Sometimes, media coverage of your business or industry can be negative. It might be because of a mistake made by your business, or it could be industry related. Whatever the reason, there are ways to handle negative press in a professional manner and perhaps turn around public opinion of your business or industry.
Try not to get emotional
This is usually the most difficult part of crisis communications, for any business large or small. Take the emotion out of your response. Remember in most cases, there is usually no immediate action to take in the first hour of a crisis situation. Use that time to collect your thoughts, and formulate a plan.
Address it online
In today’s online culture, people expect responses to situations quickly. Use the first hour or two while gathering your thoughts to craft a professional response to the situation or problem, then post it on your website and social media channels. The most difficult part of this step is to make sure the response sounds and is genuine, not pre-planned or insincere.
Be a leader
Now is the time to step up and use your position as head of the company to be a leader. Your employees—and the public—will be looking to you for answers. How you handle negative press will say more than your actual words, and the effects of your strategic, professional approach can even linger longer than the issue itself.
Hopefully, mentions of you or your small business in the media will be positive, and you can use that coverage to market your business and generate more revenue. While you can’t always quantify the ROI like you can with paid media, earned media coverage can reach more people and be even more valuable.
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The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.