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Get Your Business Covered by the Media

October 4, 2009

by Rohit Bhargava, American Express Open Forum:

Local advertising can be effective to reach a regional audience, but when it comes to exposure, nothing beats having a profile piece done on you and your business in the local, regional or even national media. Many small business owners believe that getting mentioned in the media is simply a matter of luck or networking and knowing the right person. These help, but there is more of a formula to earning positive press than you might imagine. Here are a few tips that can help you get coverage:

Be an expert. You might think that the most compelling thing about your business is the great product you have, or the story behind your business. Although that is important, being an expert in something puts you on the media radar. You may be the foremost expert in your area on whether homebuyers should choose brick or stone for their house exterior. Or be able to taste the difference between coffee from Guatemala and Cuba. Whatever it is, uncover what you know best and then start including that in how you talk about and promote your business.

Remember the story isn’t always about you. Many small business owners make the mistake of assuming that the only media coverage they should try and get is a “profile piece” about them and their businesses. That’s one way to go, but it is far less likely that you’ll get covered in this type of story, and if you do it will be a small regional story anyway. Reporters choose topics to write stories about, but most require some real points of view (i.e. interviews). If you can be a source for a reporter on a story they are already writing, you will be far ahead of your competition in getting mentioned more frequently in media.

Start with the bloggers. Bloggers can often be an approachable first point of entry into getting covered. If you can start inviting them to share their comments on your business and perhaps invite them to come and experience what you have to sell, you can build relationships. Those relationships can matter not only because people may read and trust those blogs, but also because they are having a growing influence on the “traditional” media and can lend credibility to your business.

Learn the beats and players. Whatever the industry your business is in, there are always individuals that should matter more to you. Do you know who covers your “beat” (i.e. – the category that your business is in)? Knowing the right journalists is essential and is part of what a public relations consultant would help you do first.  How can you target a message or campaign if you don’t know your audience?  Once you know the individuals you are targeting, you can start to build a relationship with them and offer yourself and your business for comment on anything they may be working on. You would be surprised how often a personal relationship can help lead to being considered as part of an article.

These are just a few tips to help get you started with appearing more frequently in the media.

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