Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Five tips on getting good press for your business

The first-ever Love Burton Jelly day - held at the Holiday Inn Express in Burton-on-Trent last week - was a resounding success.

Also known as co-working days, Jelly events see small businesses and freelancers come together with their laptops and work alongside each other. It's also a chance to network over coffee, meet new people and develop ideas for collaborative projects.

Burton businesses at first Jelly event
First Love Burton Jelly day - May 9, 2014
All in all, I think it's a great idea (well, I did suggest it to Ian and Jaz, the founders of #LoveBurton hour on Twitter, so I would, wouldn't I?)

A number of local business owners were invited to run free taster workshops during the day and I led a session about getting good press for your business. So I thought I'd give a flavour of that workshop in this blog post and share five of my favourite tips on the subject.

  • Research the publications you want to target.
  • Whether you are aiming to get coverage in your local newspaper, in a niche magazine or in the trade press, make sure that you read a number of editions to absorb and understand the stories they cover and the way their reporters write. Research the deadlines - magazines may be edited well before they appear in print. Look at their online versions too; it's helpful to know if all the stories that appear in print are used on the web as well.

  • Build a rapport with a named journalist.
  • By reading the publications you want to target you will start to see the bylines of named reporters who may cover stories similar to the one you have to offer; give one of those reporters a call. It won't hurt to tell them you enjoyed a recent article they wrote and ask if you can send them news releases about your business. If you can provide news story ideas to a journalist, in a way that makes their working day just a little bit easier, you are on the way to building a productive business relationship that works for you both.

  • Contact them when you have something worth saying.
  • Don't try the patience of your new friend the journalist by sending them stories that are just free advertising. There needs to be a news angle such as: your business is expanding; you are working with a local school; you are sponsoring a community event; you've developed a new process or product or you've been shortlisted for an award. Every story doesn't have to be a major 400-word news announcement. Publications need smaller news items to fill their pages as well as the big lead stories. Look out for topical stories that you can piggy-back on to create a news story. For example, if you run a dog training business and a new law or by-law is implemented affecting dog owners, your view may make an angle for a news story. Establish yourself as the 'go-to' expert for your industry and sector.

  • Keep it concise.
  • Avoid the temptation to submit masses of information charting every detail of your story and your company history. Some businesses think that they increase the chances of achieving more coverage by submitting a lengthy press release. I believe you'll build a better relationship with your target publication if you keep it concise. Always include all your contact details, company website and any social media channels at the bottom of the press release so they can get hold of you easily if they have a query. Do your research and see the amount of detail they run on similar stories. Most press releases can be adequately covered on one page of a Word document. Most writers will prefer to receive stories and images by email - but ask their preference when you initially make contact.

  • A picture can be worth 1,000 words.
  • Humans are visual creatures and we all know that when we flick through newspapers and magazines our eyes are drawn to images. If you submit a powerful image, and it is used with your story, it will grab more attention than words alone. Studying your target publications will show you the type of images for which they have a preference. If you are holding a conference, or a major event, it may well be worth investing in a professional photographer who can create something more inventive and attractive than a simple line of people.

    Read more here about the Love Burton Jelly launch.

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