How to get press coverage for your small business

No expensive PR or wire service fee necessary

Put in the effort and you might get free or low-cost press. This blog will show you how to use storytelling and networking to attract press coverage. Publications and blog writers are looking for you. If you look for them and make contact the right way, you will increase the chances of getting a write-up that mentions your business.

The value of press is that you’ll reach new customers and clients and become better known for what you do best. Online articles and blurbs can also bring visitors to your business website for years to come. The bottom line: publicity can increase sales.

Know your media space

To start, get to know the media landscape. All this means is for you to find out where your ideal customer or client goes to get news and information. There are media outlets for every type of person. The more specialized the media channel, the more responsive those users will be. You need to be seen in the right context to make the most of your efforts.

Find the journalist or influencer who loves your type of business. There’s someone for everyone, so find out who’s covering your industry and note which channels they use.

Look at the smaller, yet influential media outlets. If you get a story in three smaller outlets or blogs it may work more in your favor than getting one big fish. Three stories will amount to a lot of social proof that you are newsworthy. You might also attract more press with this method because you would’ve shown your credibility to skeptical journalists.

Listen up and stay tuned, then act fast

Trends and timing spark opportunities. Use social listening tools to help you track what is trending. Set up Google Alerts on your areas of interest and you’ll get updates in your email inbox as frequently as you like.

When a trend and your business align, be ready to act immediately. Newsroom deadlines cannot wait for your convenience. Press writers are in the business of telling stories, but they’re bankrolled by advertising. Press operates on deadlines and trending waves of information that attract readers and listeners. They have to capitalize on waves fast to make payroll. To get your story idea in on time, you have to know what people are looking for and be prepared to pounce.

It’s called a news story for a reason

You have to have a current event or idea to share. Then, try to shape a story around it. For example, sustainable clothes are trending and you happen to have the biggest used clothing business in town. These two facts only need a story context to create a story pitch.

If what you do is trending, you can add information to a story, such as:

  • Why is this trend catching on?
  • Who is behind the trend?
  • What are the trends within the trend?

News stories come in a range of approaches, or angles, as editors like to say. They can be a human interest piece, surprising facts, community news, to name a few. While you’re reading and listening to news stories and feature articles, look for the story angle that fits your business. If that angle is missing, then you just might have a pitch on your hands.

Submit an idea to a writer or professional reviewer

You can hire bloggers with a smaller following to write about your business. Be sure to give them direction on how to position your business to give you the most value. Prepare a list of keywords and keyword phrases that defines your business offering.

You also have to have that blurb ready that explains what sets you apart. These blog business owners have to protect their following first. They have to believe you have something to offer their followers or they won’t pick you up. You want coverage that is authentic, or it can hurt your business. Matching up with the right blogger is important.

Putting in a story idea to a publication usually goes through the assignment desk. Do not prepare a release. Instead, submit your story pitch about something you’re doing that:

  • Fits into a trend
  • Creates a trend
  • Breaks a previous notion

Keep it very short and to the point. That is, no more than one paragraph.

Register yourself as a story “source” in various directories.

HARO, which stands for help a reporter out, connects journalists with sources that have expertise. Once you register, you will need to check your email three times a day. When you see a story angle that lines up with your know-how, you can respond to a mailbox with a pitch. Ideally, this can lead to being quoted and perhaps a business link. It will also go far in establishing a relationship as a go-to source in the future.

The evergreen story

Evergreen stories are pieces that can be adapted to run anytime and are not necessarily tied to hard news. They are easier to pursue but tend to have more competition.

Let’s say you have a flower shop and you don’t have an event or change that’s newsworthy. Be inventive.  What if you polled your customers to find out what flowers women of different ages like? You could put the results on your website ahead of Valentine’s Day and submit them to a local TV station. Local news has to come up with something to cover and you have it ready to go. Suggest that they bring a news crew to your shop to ask customers if the poll is helping them decide what to buy. 

You don’t always have to go after exclusive coverage. For example, an article that covers the top-selling or best 10 babka bakers in New Jersey, is a valuable story to get.

Make contacts and build relationships with press and influencers

  1. Follow writers

Follow the writers and publications that write about businesses like yours. Be sure to check out Twitter even if your business doesn’t have an account. A lot of writers have a presence here. Also, check out LinkedIn. Professional writers and influencers are the ones who most often get stories and opinions published in LinkedIn articles.

Now, engage and repost what your favorite journalist shares. If you want to reply to a publication, single out a writer. You will get more attention. Add to the discussion. Support good ideas with positive feedback. Writers will be grateful for your input and your experience. This will also get you on their radar. The more potential contacts you make, the better the chances of being top of mind at the right opportunity.

  1. Follow industry influencers

Connect with influencers to get positive brand exposure. Bloggers, YouTubers and podcasters can all help to publicize your business. Do your research. You can start by searching hashtags that are specific to your business. There are micro-influencers with tens of thousands of followers. And there are nano-influencers who only have a few thousand. Nano-influencers are easier to reach and they can be very effective. Remember you are looking for an influencer who will fall in love with your brand and/or product.

Become your own press agency

If you’re a strong writer or have a big personality and a large social media following, you can announce your own thoughts and business milestones while you grow your fan base. Emails, regular social content, live social happenings and blog writing can all lead to more exposure and the potential to reach more customers and a bigger audience. Clearly define the voice of your brand, what you talk about and how you talk about it. Be bold. You may not attract everyone, but the people who get you and your business will be your best champions, customers and clients.

Don’t let a good story or post go to waste

Capitalize on the press you get by telling your customers, clients and prospects. Get the news out on social media. Add the link to the story on your website and sales presentations. To get the most out of a hard-won relationship with a journalist or influencer, bring your fans to them to boost the buzz.

Authors

Aileen Ghee, NYWIB Director of Marketing

Amanda Bullock, NYWIB Copywriter

Macollvie J. Neel, NYWIB Senior Editor

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