Guest Post by Barbara Rozgonyi
For small town businesses, “front page news” can mean making the cover of the local paper as well as being on page one on Google News.
Pitching Local Reporters
Know the reporter on a first name basis? Call them up and ask about your idea before you get into writing a press release. That’s called a pitch.
One of my best lines: “How do I get a story like the one about the dollhouse lady?” Another: “What kinds of stories do you like to write best?” Be persistent, but gentle and make suggestions when you think there’s a better way to write the paper. Could they use a business or a home-based entrepreneur column?
One way around the reporter is through the letter to the editor. While this space isn’t necessarily for your news, it is a place for your opinion. Write a letter thanking your customers, congratulating the mayor, applauding the marching band. You get the idea – the more your name is associated with good things, the more memorable – and quotable – you will be.
If you’re new in town or you don’t know the reporter, taking them out to lunch is a good way to get to know them better. Don’t be surprised if they won’t let you pick up the check; ethically, most reporters are not allowed to accept gifts.
Invite reporters to all events at your business and in town. Volunteering to be your favorite organization’s publicity chair is another way to get to know the newspaper – make sure you pick one that has lots of news.
As more and more local papers wind up online, your story may be included in their archives. So, when people search, they’ll find you online long after the paper left the mailbox.
Getting Wider Coverage
Now that papers are being consolidated, your local paper might be part of a larger group that also covers a bigger metro area. Local stories can wind up being distributed in 45 papers or more in the sections like Lifestyle.
Have friends in other towns that have similar businesses? Band together as a group to make a bigger impact. You can set up a tour of organic farms, talk about how real estate is doing throughout the county or start a business networking group. The idea is to do research for the reporter or present stories to them.
When I moved to my new town, I started a group for business writers. My company’s name and contact information went in the paper every time we announced a meeting. I got to make a bunch of new friends right away and I position myself – to the press – as a business writing expert.
To see who’s writing what in the area towns, buy papers in other communities to get the names of the reporters and see what they write about. One of my friends, Ted, owns the only audio engineering and sound installation company in three counties. His challenge? Reporters in other towns don’t want to write about him because he doesn’t live there. Yet, stories about his customers are news-worthy in almost every town. When the high school auditorium gets a new sound system, that’s usually big news. Guess who gets quoted? You got it – Ted.
For larger metro papers, find a reporter that covers your business: food, home, garden, business, real estate. See if their email address is published and send them comments on their stories. If you really want to get attention, send them a thank-you note or a comment about a story you enjoyed.
Breaking into National Publicity
After one of my “Getting the Media to Work for You” presentations, a beginning dress designer went to the local library and copied the contact information for every magazine she wanted to be in. Then, she sent each editor a hand-written letter with fabric swatches and pictures. Yes, that was Jane in Country Living.
Thanks to online distribution services, you can transform a simple press release into an always-on, stand-alone social media-enabled news site with global access. That’s a lot to say about a project that usually encompasses 400 words or less – especially when it’s one you can do yourself.
What’s your biggest question about how to get more publicity or get your name in the news?
Tomorrow: 5 Steps to Power-full PR
Tomorrow, Barbara continues with 5 Steps to Power-full PR. She shares she positions clients as news-worthy subject matter experts, using a simple system.
Barbara Rozgonyi writes Wired PR Works, a top 50 PR blog. The founder of CoryWest Media, LLC, Barbara’s client list includes Fortune 50 companies, global consultancies, non-profits, almost an entire village and even kitchen sinks! A speaker and educator, Barbara is on the faculty of The Non-Profit Academy for Excellence. For a complimentary Power PR Secrets guide, visit www.CoryWestMedia.com.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.