Want excellent local media coverage? Want to get your business name spread across the Internet? Want to do it all for free? It’s possible!
There is no such thing as a free lunch, but it is possible to secure free media coverage if you plan ahead. Maintain a strong interest in your niche industry and stay flexible enough to jump quickly at any opportunity, and you can bask in the glow of free publicity.
Serve the media and it will serve you
Media professionals rush for a living. They are constantly under impossible deadlines. They get assignments, have news that breaks, and sometimes they just need to fill space. They always have to do these things five minutes ago. So, if you become a dependable resource for them, they will call.
If you want to get the “breaks” with the media, if you want the inside track with the local, regional and national outlets you have to become a great media resource.
A Great Media Resource:
- is always available
- alerts media professionals to changes in the industry
- will jump through hoops to help THEM meet their deadlines
It’s difficult to be always available when you are juggling multiple projects. Don’t let a nervousness about being interviewed turn into a hesitation. Make sure your primary number forwards to your cell phone and always return calls promptly. Not all media folks will identify their industry when they call. Even if you are overwhelmed with work, call back every lead – potential customer, referral or media professional and do it immediately.
Often, media workers will gather a list of potential interviews and will begin by calling the list from top to bottom. They will stop when they reach someone they can interview. You need to be that someone.
If they call (or email) and can’t reach you — they move on to the next person. They don’t have time to wait.
Courting the media
Media professionals like having an “insider” in the industries they cover. If you send them updates, press releases and statistics regularly with the statement “I’m available for interviews” in each one, you may become one of those insiders. Become a “go to” resource for the media in the same way you are that resource for your clients.
How can you do that?
If a you read an article in a local paper and it’s missing an aspect or a bit of information that you can provide, take that opportunity to email the reporter. Let them know (in a non-threatening, helpful way) that you are willing to serve as a resource for future articles.
Dear Jane –
I really enjoyed your article on the impact of the housing crunch on the local market printed in today’s paper. I work with real estate agents across the nation and try to stay on top of the local, regional and national trends to better serve my own clients.
I noticed that you mentioned the increase in the inventory this year over this time last year. The increase is pretty dramatic and the local figures in the databases I use indicate a 47% increase over this time last year in the $200-400K homes. However, the inventory has actually dropped 7% in the $800K+ homes, so there is some light in that segment of the market.
If you plan to do similar articles in the future and need figures or another resource to quote, I would love the opportunity to help. You can call me at 800-123-4567 anytime.
Thanks again for the great articles, I love reading your work!
Jan B. Smith
When news is happening, like a new company coming to the area, stay on top of the news as it develops. Use Google email alerts to flag topics related to your area of expertise, so you know the moment something happens. When the announcements roll in, email the reporters you are courting with the fact that it’s just been announced and tell them you are available if they have any questions.
Distributing press releases and writing articles
Press releases by themselves are not a marketing plan. They are, however, an important piece of a good plan. Press releases shouldn’t be self-serving, “look-at-me” pieces of fluff. They should provide actual information about what’s going on in your target industry and why it’s important to media readership and your clients. Make sure your information lends itself to use in an article, a feature, or another media format.
Three free PR venues I like:
When you send out your free online press releases, don’t forget to send those same releases into the business editor of your local paper and other papers in your region.
Look for magazines and other publications that serve the same industries you serve. Know the editorial schedules of publications that will help you (these are usually available on their website). Email the editors and offer to write an article in your area of expertise.
Get some confidence!
If you don’t feel confident in your ability to write an article, call in some help. Many industry experts have personal writers that help them to look good. Find someone you like who will work with you to provide you the presentation polish your knowledge needs.
I have one client that gets a call from the media and immediately calls me. He calls and says things like, “I need to write an article on the use of routers for wireless networks in real estate offices and have it to an editor in 48 hours, can we do it?” And, of course the answer is always “Sure!” So while he’s driving back to his office, we are talking on the cell phone and I’m “pulling” the information from him and typing it up as we chat. By the time he reaches his office, I’ve polished up a first draft for his review.
A good media “helper” can also help you prepare for upcoming live interviews and help you write up exceptional responses to email interviews.
If you manage to “click” with a good writer, you can get this type of help on the fly. It will give you the polish and the confidence you need to shine when you are in the spotlight. And if you are just getting started in your business, you may be able to trade off your services with a writer who needs help in other areas.
Media is your star client
Always treat members of the media with the same dedication and service you offer clients. After all, they ARE a client. Make arrangements to be able to offer them what they need to meet their deadline – even if you have to juggle to do so. Like your other clients, they will come back if you make their lives easier – and will recommend you to their peers.
Good media coverage is a self-propagating process. If you are featured in an article, a TV station may pick you up as a resource, industry magazines may ask you to write an article, local event coordinators may ask you to host a session or sit on a round-table.
The more you do in the public spotlight, and the more you work with the media, the more you will be asked to do.