Local newspapers can be a great tool for promoting products and services, boosting your profile within your community and can even help keep your staff morale up – and all that for free.
Press is also a great way to enhance your SEO and also overall internet marketing – from visitors to your site to potential links from a trusted source – local newspapers are a goldmine if you can attract positive press.
Few businesses can take advantage of this potential. Below are some dos and don’ts that are going to help you when it comes to the local press.
Advertising vs Editorial
The first thing you need to know is the difference between advertising, which is something you pay for, and editorial (like news) content, which you don’t pay for. When paying for advertising on a publication, you are the one to determine what is going to be there. If it is free editorial coverage, then you have to accept that you are going to have little control over the final article. You can complain as long it doesn’t state anything malicious or false. Even if you have been advertising with the newspaper for many years, you cannot expect them to give you preferential treatment when it comes to their editorial.
It is also important to know the difference between news and commercial messages. News refers to anything that the general population finds interesting. You need to have this in mind when you consider the aspects the business is going to put forward to reporters – and what you might need to pay to advertise.
If you took two weeks from your business in order to help people who were affected by the tornado, then that is news. If you have bought a new van, that becomes advertising – even if it means you can make more deliveries faster to many households.
Journalists are taught how to filter information that is intended for commercial gain and promoting a business, and it is less likely such information is going to make it to the news. Making the distinction is not always easy, especially when you are a small business owner who loves his/her ‘baby’. The best approach is to look at it from the outside. Ask yourself whether a complete stranger with no interest in your business is going to be interested in what you want to promote. When you are done with this process, you are now ready to get in touch with the local media.
Below are some tips to help you with this:
Do’s for Getting Local Press
Getting in touch through email. Make sure you include a press release that has all the relevant facts
You can take a good picture if you have a digital camera then send it with the release. When you add a picture, it increases your chances of being on a prominent position within the paper. You need to identify each person on the picture using a caption.
After sending the press release, follow it up with a phone call. There are times when emails get lost and a call to the reporter is going to help you. You will also have the chance of answering any questions they might have or providing more information.
You should try having good relationships with reporters. Try to oblige as much as possible and tip them off when you hear or see something they might be interested in. this is going to increases the chance of positive publicity, but don’t do it expecting favors. The reporters might be willing to help you out, but that copy has to go through news editors responsible for quality control. There is very little they can do to prevent a given story from negatively affecting your business.
Try looking for ‘human interest’ stories within the business. this is because newspapers love stories that involve births, families, and funny situations. If there is something interesting happening to one of your workers and they are ready to share it with the world, why not let the local newspaper know?
Don’ts for Getting Local Press
Don’t be offended if they turn down your face-to-face meeting request in favor of a phone conversation. Many newspapers don’t have a big team and there are reporters working up to 14 hours a day. They prefer to use face-to-face meetings when it is absolutely necessary.
Don’t try dictating the wording of the article. You can highlight the things about your business that are newsworthy or most interesting, but you should accept that it is the job of the reporter to write that story. There is also a very little chance you are going to see the final article that is going to be published. You don’t have to approve the copy because newspapers would come to a halt if this was the case.
Don’t be frightened because you have no control over what is going to be written. Reporters are not interested in twisting your words and making you look bad.
Don’t be too brand conscious as you deal with the media. You need to be professional and consistent, but not many people are going to care about the wording or if the company logo is visible on the picture. While you are stressing yourself about the color scheme and fonts on your press release (reporters are going to ignore this), your competitors might be enjoying the free publicity as they deal with the media in a confident and relaxed manner.