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How to Get FREE Publicity for Your Small Business

Getting media coverage for your small business should be a key aim of your content strategy, because it is highly effective in building brand awareness, credibility and reputation.

Unlike paid advertising (bought media) or publishing to your company website or social media (owned media), a published article in a newspaper or magazine, a mention on radio or a story on television news (earned media) carries more weight because it is content about you created and conveyed by a third party.

The media is an observer and commentator, reflecting interpretations of news, events and other happenings through the lens of its reporters. From a business owner’s perspective, the media can be a friend, critic or sponsor and, importantly, a key stakeholder that needs to be considered as part of an integrated marketing and public relations program.

The main types of media include:

  • print – magazines, newspapers, journals, peak body and specialist industry publications
  • broadcast – radio and television
  • digital – online publications such as enewsletters, emagazines and enewspapers

Like any productive business relationship, effective media relations is about nurturing positive relationships, meeting needs and expectations, and establishing a mutually-beneficial value exchange. In exchange for newsworthy content (story idea/words, interview talent and pictures) the media may publish your story.

A media release or opinion piece are two common formats small business owners can use to convey newsworthy content to the media.

Types of media releases include:

  • hard news stories, such as current issues, research, product/service innovations, trending topics
  • human interest stories, such as those about people, events, fund-raisers, sponsorships and the like
  • follow-up stories, such as an update, new decision or direction on an important issue or popular topic
  • photographic stories, such as a great image with an extended caption

An opinion piece, as the name suggests, is an article about a subjective viewpoint on a specific subject. For example, an opinion piece might cover something topical in the current news cycle, such as the leadership styles of political candidates or a general topic, such as leadership, marketing, corporate culture, manufacturing, customer service and the like.

While issuing a media release or an opinion piece to a media outlet or industry magazine doesn’t guarantee its publication in whole or part, small business owners can increase the newsworthiness of their content and likelihood of it being published by following a few simple rules.

Tips for Getting Your Story Published

Think news-worthy!

The media won’t run a story for the gratuitous promotion of a business. Your media release or opinion piece must carry highly newsworthy content that would be appealing to the specific reader, listener or viewer of the targeted media.

Have a catchy headline

Editors, journalists and producers of programs work in fast-paced, deadline-driven environments, so ensure the headline of your media release / opinion piece is catchy enough to grab their attention. For instance, use emotive words, be cryptic, ask a question, highlight a pain point or highlight a solution to a problem.

Have a key message

It’s not about you; it’s about them, the audience. Your media release / opinion piece needs to impart a message that is relevant to the target audience. What do you want them to think, feel or do as a result of reading your story?

Put important information upfront

Print, digital and airtime space is at a premium so answer the most important information – what, when, where, who, why and how – in the first few paragraphs of your article.

Use simple language

People quickly turn off when confronted with complex information. Therefore, avoid jargon, acronyms, technical terms and clichés, such as ‘best of breed’, ‘world class’ and ‘state of the art’.

Keep sentences short

Short sentences aid readability. Using sub-headings to break up information, bullets to highlight key points and having only one thought per paragraph can also aid readability.

Use quotable quotes

If writing a media release, quote a credible spokesperson such as the business owner or a subject matter expert. Quotes can be backed up with facts and figures, and use colourful language to make them more interesting.

Keep to one page

Keep the media release to one page, if possible, approximately 400 words. An opinion piece, or feature article, can be around 600 words or more, depending on the medium.

Provide a contact

Provide a name, phone number and email address for follow-up enquires from the media.

If you’d like professional help to get free publicity for your small business, get in touch with Ros Weadman on 1800 677 600 or email.

©Ros Weadman 2022 Ros Weadman helps people, businesses and organisations to build a distinctive brand, increase their visibility and enhance their reputation. Ros’s new book ‘Enhance Your Reputation’ is out now. Order your copy here.

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