Five ways a small business can get in the news for free

Posted on Sun Nov 04 2012
Nicholas Holmes

Speaking to journalists and bloggers is a great way to get the word out about yourself, but where do you start? Creating a good story for journalists may seem like a daunting task, but with a little imagination, most people can get their name in print without spending thousands on advertising or a PR consultancy. Below are five top tips on ways every small business can make a splash:

 

Be outrageous

Those outrageous stunts that involve marching bands, exotic dancers or jet pack men – they really work. Readers enjoy a story that makes them smile, and editors love a good headline, so think about what you can do to raise eyebrows.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be large scale, by the way – often a good costume, some great signage or a well-thought-out promotion can do the trick. The key thing is to make sure that it’s something that will make people stop and stare – and that you warn the press about it in advance, of course.

Beat the competition

With few exceptions, journalists are a fan of the new. If you’re the first to offer a service or sell a popular product, even if it’s just in a particular sector or geography, you’re onto a winner.

Remember that publications exist to inform their audience about what’s new and tailor your message with that in mind, with an emphasis on why what you’re saying or selling is going to change the status quo. To make your offer really meaty though, you’ll need to add a little about what drove you to this point – everybody loves a good story of success.

Appear on time

Savvy PR people will put their clients in front of a microphone at every opportunity – even capitalising on somebody else’s news. Popping up in the right place at the right time is something of an art form, but it means you can be in the news as a ‘talking head’ even when you have nothing to announce. So think about what you’re most qualified to comment about and reach out to journalists to offer a quote or an interview well ahead of any news breaking in your area.

Trade shows, which tend to generate plenty of product announcements, are particularly fertile ground for SMEs, but also look out for company results, celebrity visits and wider trends you can leverage.

Use your knowledge

Information is power, and never more so than in the media. Journalists are constantly looking for authoritative information from subject matter experts, whether in the form of comment as above, background data, indicators or some other sort of data that can add value to their articles. So work hard to understand whatever information you’re sitting on, whether that’s your experience, the value of your products, the environment you’re working in, the trends in your market or anything else.

If you have numbers you can release regularly, that’s even better – remember how many surveys, research reports and analyst predictions make it into the papers every day. You can use these to think about how your knowledge might be used by the media, before making sure everybody knows you’ve got that information.

Be charitable

Of course, you shouldn’t be charitable just to grab the attention of the media, but it’s hard to deny that outlets love a friendly charity story. Whether you’re raising money to help others or rolling up your own sleeves, it’s worth dropping a note to your media contacts, who will be as keen to help a good cause as you are.


About the Author

Nicholas Holmes
Nicholas Holmes
Nicholas Holmes is a former journalist and the founder of small business PR platform MediaGraph, which launched in 2012 as part of Dubai's SeedStartup technology accelerator. He has written for The National, the Independent, AFP/Relaxnews and The Next Web. For more information, please visit www.themediagraph.com.

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