You’ve sent press releases and made follow-up phone calls, but your ideas for featuring your company in news articles aren’t getting any attention. Sound familiar? Included below are the most likely reasons:
You’re targeting the wrong reporter
Reporters typically work “beats” – which means each of them covers a specific type of news issue. If you’re targeting the wrong reporter, chances are very slim that person will forward your idea to the right reporter. Sending your story idea to an editor or the general “news tips” email account means it will have to clear a number of gatekeepers before reaching the right reporter.
By far your best option is to monitor the publication/broadcast and see for yourself which reporter tends to cover issues/businesses like yours.
Your timing is off
After a news outlet publishes a story about a small business, other small businesses will often swamp the reporter with similar story ideas. However, the media want their stories to be fresh and different, not all the same. You need to either think of an all-new story idea, or wait five or six months to submit the same kind of story idea.
Your story idea isn’t compelling
Reporters get press releases about small businesses celebrating a big anniversary every day. Rarely do they do stories about them. They also almost never report on small businesses hiring a new president, celebrating their 1,0000th client or introducing a new product or service. Only big, high-profile businesses can attract that kind of news coverage.
However, reporters love it when a small business alerts them to a larger trend – especially if you have some facts to back up your statement (e.g. FSBOs have fallen off by 30% in your city). By becoming a source for the reporter, you get the opportunity to be quoted as a subject-matter expert, plus the reporter will now think of you when they need a source for other industry-related stories.
You’re using a traditional press release
Reporters don’t have time to read through a press release from a company they don’t know. At best they skim. At worst, they read only the headline. Forget about the press release format you see big corporations using. As a small business, you need to skip the formalities of a traditional press release and get right to the point.
Today, reporters are far more likely to respond to a quick email message that very succinctly highlights a story idea: “Hi, Dave. Those of us who work in the local real estate market have noticed a very interesting trend lately. It seems ….” Limit your email to four or five paragraphs. And use statements like, “Your readers may find that interesting,” and “I’d be happy to connect you with some other sources on this subject, as well” (which lets the reporter know you’re looking out for their best interest). End your note with the simple statement, “Let me know if you’d like more information” and include your name and title.
Your follow-up is wrong
Reporters don’t like it when you call to see if they’ve received your email or press release. However, sometimes your missives really do get lost in the shuffle. So instead of calling, wait about a week and then send another email (with your original email message included) saying, “Just want to make sure you received my original message (see below). If there’s another angle on this issue you would be more interested in, or if you need a source for other local real estate issues, please let me know.”
It’s worth the effort
Trying to get the media to notice your small business takes work. But a positive mention in a mainstream publication or broadcast can generate lots of new business.
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