Wouldn’t it be great if you (and your solo business) were on the Rolodex of all the local and regional newspaper editors?
Would you like to have the Chamber of Commerce and the local Small Business Development Center calling you whenever they needed material for a story?
Most small business owners don’t have the luxury (and the serious advantage) of being a household word around local community business circles.
In fact, many owners disregard the media altogether thinking that they will never be contacted or receive publicity because no one cares about their business. They believe they have nothing to share … nothing of interest … nothing that anyone would want to publish.
But that is really not the case!
I can tell you that most of the business media outlets are in constant need of good publishable material and business owners willing to give them a story.
The problem is not the need – rather, the problem is knowing what and who you are and that you are willing to provide timely credible material at a moment’s notice.
I am an advocate of every small business keeping a series of resource files.
Sometimes these are called “swipe files” although that term refers to just one type of resource file. In these files are stored ideas, strategies, tips, hints, articles, thoughts, and notes that will help you in your business.
The idea is to have a place to put these ideas and notes away for study and use at a later time. When you come across an idea, or see something that looks like it might be usable in your business, you simply clip or insert the information into the file to be studied in detail later. The file could be a clipping or a digital file kept on the computer.
Media editors keep similar resource files – most will have extensive filing systems set up so that when a particular item of interest surfaces, they will have material and ideas that they can tap into for articles and interviews. They will have names of experts in the field or local businesses that they know deal in the niche.
One of the best ways to get media coverage is to have your material in these resource files.
One way to do that is to publish a periodic newsletter that is mailed to your customers (physically or digitally) and send a hard copy to all the media outlets in your city and region.
If you do a good job of education and if you give valuable tips, stories, insights, and ideas in each issue, there is a good chance that editors will file your newsletter away in their resource file. Focus on human interest type information, not the sales brochures that you would give to a potential prospect.
It will contain your name, the name of your business, and all your local and web contact information.
When the editor has a need for a story or article related to your business niche and he sees that you are a local business owner with some expertise and credibility in the subject, he is apt to call you for an interview, an opinion, to be quoted in his story, or possibly to write a guest article yourself.
The traffic and notoriety that can come to a business as the result of just one interesting media story is huge. And since this is just like “free” advertising, it ought to be a no-brainer for every solo small business.
Here’s what I suggest doing. If you don’t have a newsletter you can send out, I would pick several topics related to your niche that tend to get the highest media coverage. I would write a short and helpful article on each one of roughly 1,000 words (maybe 3 typed pages).
These aren’t sales letters for your business products (although your products can be mentioned in the article) but rather informational pieces (like a mini white paper) that inform, educate, and give thoughtful comment on the subject. Be sure to include the “human element,” the people behind the business, those who started the business, and those whose lives have been changed by the business income sway.
Be sure to include your name, the business name, and your full contact information at the end.
Just ahead of your contact information, place the following invitation:
“Answers to your questions, additional information, and media interviews are always available at: (Business contact info)”
Finally, sign your name and include your company logo at the bottom of the last page.
Think of the advantage you would have over your competitors if all the local editors had 15 or 20 of these sheets in pertinent subject resource files. When the need for a related story or an interview came up, who is going to get the call – you or your competitor that is unknown to the editor?
What I’m suggesting is different from a business press kit, which should always be available, that gives pertinent and helpful information about your business and it’s products. We’ll talk more about press kits in another post.
To your online business success!