by Kim Whitley
Putting your small business on the local map is one of the best ways to start building out your brand – and leveraging newspaper coverage is a great starting point.
Hot off the press: Get your business in front of a local audience
Getting people to take notice of your business isn’t always the simplest of tasks, but it’s a challenge that’s important to take on in an effort to win customers – and the local press is a good place to start.
The fact is that it can be a relatively simple way of getting your name in front of people who are most likely to see and recognise your brand. It’s all about connecting with your local audience, building a relationship and letting the community know what your business is about.
So, how can you do it? Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Get to know local media:
Find out the names of your local newspapers, who they reach, how their content varies from day to day, and learn what their deadlines are for different types of stories. You should also note the names of writers and editors who regularly produce material that might appeal to your customers, as these are ultimately the people whose attention you’ll want to get.
- Build relationships:
Take the time to introduce yourself, your business and your employees to local reporters and journalists – both in-person at local events and by contacting them directly. Make the effort to find out which method of contact they prefer – for example, email, phone or social media – to be in with the best chance of getting their attention.
- Write newsworthy press releases:
Journalists respond to well-written and informative press releases, so once you’ve built a relationship with them it’s sensible to make sure you’re following it up by providing useable information. Clear headlines, short descriptions, simple language and quick bullet points all help – and images don’t go amiss, either.
- Create PR opportunities:
It’s possible to create your own opportunities for press coverage, rather than waiting for something newsworthy to happen in your business and pitching this to a journalist. For example, you could team up with your local newspaper to run a competition with a prize that relates to your business - such as a year's free supply of your product, or a free luxury weekend at your hotel.
- Be creative with your angles:
You’ll need to find a newsworthy angle that will inspire curiosity - you want to make journalists think, “I didn’t know that,” rather than produce something generic that means they skim over your story. With this in mind, don’t be afraid to think outside the box – you need to get their attention. Remember, journalists have to sift through plenty of potential stories, so you need to ensure yours stands out.
- Get local notable figures involved:
Getting a local MP or even a celebrity on-board with your business - whether to promote a cause, launch a product or take part in a networking event - can pay dividends in local press coverage. MPs are usually interested in taking part in photo calls and other promotional events if it means they can lend their support to businesses in their respective constituencies.
- Consider ‘real people’:
Remember that your local newspaper is just that: local. Whenever you’re pitching or writing a story with the hope of securing local newspaper coverage, always offer an angle which makes the piece relevant to people and businesses nearby, rather than offering non-specific information that is potentially irrelevant to readers. Your stories are likely to make much more of an impact if they directly concern individuals in the surrounding area, rather than on a more general, national scale.
If you are persistent and patient with your marketing efforts and take the time to build up awareness of your business with the local media, you’re likely to find that achieving brand recognition is much easier in the long-term.