Thursday, May 27, 2010

Motivating the media to cover your business

Positive media coverage isn't an easy thing for a business owner to get, no matter if you're brand new or have been in business for 30 years. Reporters are very busy people and may have already ignored your past attempts to get their attention, but don't give up. Positive media coverage can help reach new customers- and the best part is that it's free advertising.

How do you get a reporter to notice you? Two articles ("The Do's and Don'ts of Pitching Your Small Business to a Reporter" by Joe Pompeo and "How to Get the Media to Cover Your Business" by Ann Handley) recently published on discuss how business owners can get the attention of a reporter. By creating a relationship with a reporter BEFORE asking them to publicize your business, you may get preferential treatment when you ask for media coverage later. To develop this relationship, Handley suggests using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to interact.

When you are ready to ask for media coverage, it will be very helpful to have a press release already written to give to the reporter. You will need to write a press release about what your business does and why it is of interest to readers, but avoid lofty quotes and jargon because these may be perceived as exaggerations and therefore thrown out, says Handley. For example, don't write like this: “By maintaining an open dialogue with our consumers through an intense, year-long collaborative and strategic project, we’ve offered them an opportunity to leave their imprint on a legacy brand they truly love, have solidified an even stronger relationship with fans, and are delivering a more efficient dialogue.”

You don't have to be a news reporter yourself to create an interesting press release. Follow these 8 steps Handley describes in her article:

1. Know the publication and what types of articles they run.
2. Have something worth sharing.
3. Provide a news hook.
4. Write a descriptive subject line.
5. Get to the point.
6. Avoid bloat. Present the facts.
7. Be human. Reveal the personality of your company through the tone and language you use.
8. Speak to your audience, not your client. Sell the story, not the company.

As an ag entrepreneur, how have you gained media attention? How has media coverage affected your sales?

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