As a small business owner working to increase brand awareness, you think often about the value of public relations and press coverage. You have bemoaned your lack of an advertising budget. You have felt a pang of envy toward large corporations that are quoted regularly in newspaper and magazine articles, whose representatives speak on national programmes and are recognised by industry influencers.
You often ask yourself, “What do journalists want?”
And on just as many occasions, you have thought, Journalists couldn’t possibly be interested in anything I have to say.
And just like that, you have not only underestimated the authority of your small [but mighty] business, you have devalued the expertise you have to share.
Journalists want news topics and supporting dialogue that is fresh, relevant, thought-provoking and noteworthy. They want to-the-point and succinct communications. They want stories and quotes that are timely and pertinent to their audiences, with elements of surprise and exclusivity.
What journalists DO NOT want is material from a company (of any size) that believes it’s unworthy of coverage—an opinion based solely on its number of employees or annual receipts.
Here’s the truth: In large part, small businesses serve niche markets. By nature, this means that small businesses are highly unique, and therefore distinctly positioned among their competitors. This equates to more interesting dialogue and a highly bespoke message that is unlikely to be duplicated.
What journalist wouldn’t want that? What journalist wouldn’t want to print a story, cite a quote or include a call-to-action from someone who is blazing innovative trails within their industry? Who is in the trenches, working closely with their customers to establish the kinds of relationships that give them unparalleled insights into what the market really wants?
It’s time you came to the realisation that you, a small business owner, are a journalist’s dream. All you’ll need is some advice for making the connections necessary to get that coveted PR—the kind that has high ROI and builds your brand through priceless third-party endorsement.
Here are my tips for you:
- Get to know your industry’s influencers. Who gets the attention of your target audience when they speak? Whose opinion matters most? These people do not need to be big-name celebrities; in fact, micro-influencers (with small, focussed audiences) are all the rage right now. Connect with them. Introduce them to your business. Offer samples. Ask for their opinions. In other words, get in there and engage them so they will talk about you and your brand.
- Follow PR queries. Whether it’s through Twitter or Google Alerts, follow journalists’ requests for comments, opinion pieces and articles. If you can offer a unique viewpoint or demonstrate your expertise, then submit. Remember to keep it relevant whilst accurately representing your unique brand.
- Offer to consult. Not every piece written has to be about your business. In many cases, offering expert advice is enough to get you noticed. If a piece is captivating to your target audience members, they will want to know where to go for more information (so choose wisely). In these cases, make sure there’s a link to your website or other contact details made available.
- Know your publications. Take the time to get to know the news outlets available to you. Take notice to the type of material their readers respond to most fervently and spot those pieces that hold engagement for the longest periods of time. Can you see a way in which your business, your expertise or your unique views would complement what’s working for them? Send them a press release that will prove highly relevant and informative to their audience.
- Think in terms of mutual benefit. Journalists aren’t in the business of promoting your business and selling your products. First and foremost, they must provide newsworthy material that satisfies their readers and viewers. Keep this in mind as you pitch; knowing that everyone involved must get a positive answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?”
- Work to get your small business on rankings lists. Ever wonder how companies get themselves on those Voted Best Restaurant, Best Places to Visit and People’s Choice lists? They reached out to applicable publications, in some way or another, and let those journalists know why they deserve to be in the running. They understand that sitting around and waiting to be “discovered” isn’t a viable tactic for a business of any size.
I hope you can now see just how valuable your small business is to journalists interested in bringing relevant information to their readers. There is a need for what you have to offer. There is an interest in how your small business is shaping your community. And it’s up to you to get clear on the value you’re extending and to package it as something newsworthy.
Have questions about how to accomplish that, specifically? Or want to speak to a PR expert about how your small business can grab the attention of journalists? Simply click here to contact us.