You have dreams of being a guest on Oprah Winfrey. The Today Show is calling your name (they just don’t know it yet!)… Even a short media appearance on the local breakfast show would be great.
Ok. Can I just have a few lines in the business section of the city newspaper? Anyone??
What does it take to get that traditional media exposure you are coveting? If they only knew about you, you’d be busier than all get out! You just need one big break… right?
Building a media presence for your small business takes time, consistency and the know-how to get yourself noticed in front of media audiences who are interested in what you have to say.
And notice I am using the word “earning” media exposure instead of “getting” or “securing” media exposure.
Yes, you have to earn it.
Unless you are paying for it (which is called advertising, by the way) it is not up to you if you will get covered, how much you will covered, or even what the media might say about you. That, my friend, is all up to the media outlet who is telling your story for you.
That’s not to say you can’t exercise some influence, however. You can absolutely doll yourself up (meaning, your business) and make what you have to say attractive to the potential media outlet.
It is important that you have something to say that people want to hear.
Here are nine steps to earning traditional media exposure for your small business:
Know What You’re Selling
This may seem obvious to you, but often this is the first stumbling block for my clients. They know what they are selling, and what their services are, but can they explain it in a way that people will clearly understand?
If you were called for that appearance on The Today Show, for example, what would you say? What is your story? Is it compelling?
It is important to develop your key messages and be able to deliver them clearly, concisely, and with impact.
Know Who You’re Selling To
Who is your key audience or ideal customer? Who do you think would most benefit from what you are selling?
Another way to think of it is why do you want people to know about you? What do you want them to do with the information?
Once you know your ideal customer, you can better tailor your message and marketing and communications strategy to reach them.
Know Where Your Customers Hang Out
Now that you know what you’re selling and who you’re selling it to, where do they hang out? What online media do they use? What traditional media do they use?
How can you reach them? What television shows do they watch? What do they read? Where do they consume their media?
All these factors must be considered as you are developing your media relations strategy.
Make a Media Outlet List of Contacts
Now that you know what media you would like to appear in, who do you need to reach to earn that appearance? Do you have a relationship with them already?
If not, depending on how big your media ambitions are, you would be wise to hire someone to help you who does know who to talk to and who has a relationship with the media, or you can introduce yourself and go from there.
What Would Interest Them About Your Product/Business?
Once you know who you want to reach, get familiar with their media outlet. What kind of stories do they like to tell? And how?
Do they do on-camera interviews? Do they do 30-second clips at the end of a new cast? Do they publish in-depth interviews?
How the message will appear can help you frame what and how you share your story with them.
How Can You Tell An Effective Story?
For example, if you are a sporting equipment company and you want to cover your new product line, there are a number of ways you could go about gaining interest in your product.
You can simply share the factors that make your product great. Or, you could promote the person behind the idea who created the product.
Another way could be to host an event that promotes your product and invite media to the event so they can see your product in action.
There are many different ways to tell the same story.
Pitch Your Idea
Now that you have your plan together, it’s time to pitch your idea.
Most news outlets prefer email. Make sure your email subject line is to the point and attention-getting. And be sure to include information about your story idea in the body of the email.
You can attach it in a document as well, but the fewer “clicks” a media contact has to take to review what you have to say, the better the chance they will actually read it.
And that’s the first step. You can follow up with another direct message or even a phone call to ensure they received your email, but it’s best not to start there.
Tell The Story
Once you are successful in gaining the attention of your media contact, it’s time for you to tell your story.
The story may have already been in the body of the email; however, you may also have the opportunity for a media interview or to meet your media contact at a live event that you are appearing at.
Be sure you are ready to answer those questions from the media and if you only have 30 seconds to tell your story, make sure those 30 seconds count!
Whew! That was a lot of work. Great! You earned some media attention and scored a few interviews and some media coverage. Fantastic! Pat yourself on the back and be open for more opportunities to do that again.
Depending on your product, you may have opportunity to develop relationships with key media and pitch ideas monthly. Other businesses may just go out twice a year or even annually. Still others may not go out at all. It’s up to you to decide what you can manage and how often media exposure would benefit your business.
About the Author, Susan Elford
Susan Elford, PR Strategist & Leadership Coach, works with start-ups and seasoned entrepreneurs to help them get real about their strengths and celebrate them so they get more of what they want; clients, exposure and success, while living a life of balance.