Small business owners wear a lot of hats, including the one of accountant, customer service specialist and product manager. So, they might not always have the time to put on the “marketer’s hat.” While mom-and-pop shops should definitely focus on delivering that amazing small business experience, they shouldn’t forget to market that amazing experience to the outside world.
One way to do this is by getting local press coverage for your small business, which in turn should get those new customers in the door. It’s possible to get media coverage if you do these six things consistently.
1. Send out samples
According to Forbes, “Media coverage is all about samples.” Put yourself in front of the eyes and minds of reporters by sending samples of your product. If you make a meaningful connection with a few writers, they will remember you and your company next time they are writing a story about that subject. Start by curating a list of journalists and local news outlets that align well with your company’s mission and product.
But before you send out those samples, you need to decide what product you want them to try. Pick wisely, because you only have one shot at a first impression. For companies with a single product, the decision is simple. For small businesses that have several product lines, you will have to pick the product that will speak the most to your target audience. One option is to vary your samples and rotate them, which can also deliver valuable feedback on which products have the most positive impact on consumers.
2. Share your story
Why will they write about you? Hopefully, because you have a great product — but more than that because you have a memorable story to share. This can be how you got into businesses, as many small businesses have heartfelt origin stories. But maybe your origin story isn’t what is unique about you. Whether its how you picked your business name, source your product, create your packaging or something else that sets you apart, find the thing that makes you distinct, and hone it into a story. If you have the story ready to go, journalists will be more likely to relay that narrative to their readers.
3. Take professional photos
When it comes to content, visual is king. Along with your inspiring business story, you need photographs to make a powerful statement in the media. Visuals are easier for readers to absorb than text, so you want your product and company to sell themselves without words too. Professional photos will help you get featured as the main subject of news stories, while an absence of pictures can get you downplayed. Even though you might be inclined to just take some pictures with your phone, shelling out for professional photographs can really pay off. While this will be an investment, you can save money by partnering with a local photographer who also needs publicity. And it’s a bang for your buck, because you can use these pictures on your website, your Yelp profile, and your social media profiles too!
4. Take advantage of breaking news
Always keep an eye out for breaking news that is relevant to your business. As Small Business PR says, “You never know when an opportunity to newsjack may arise.” For example, there might be an upcoming snowstorm, and Channel 2 is looking for a local plowing company to give viewers winter weather safety tips. Free press for your small business!
Sign up for Google Alerts for keywords related to your business so you can seize opportunities like these. When you get an alert for a relevant article, contact the reporter and lend your expertise. Even if they don’t need you as a source at that moment, it’s a good way to start building relationships with the media.
5. Be a source on ‘Help A Reporter’
HARO provides journalists with a database of sources for upcoming stories. Reporters who are looking for expert advice on a subject can submit a media query or search the database for the right source. You simply send in the corresponding content (sometimes they only need a paragraph of text) and secure that valuable media coverage.
You will get frequent emails with media queries but only respond to the ones that are relevant to you. If you are selected as a source, you may be rewarded with press coverage in the form of direct quotes, mentions or even a feature article.
6. Connect with micro-influencers
Influencer marketing can garner you a lot of positive exposure, including being featured on blogs and social media platforms. In fact, according to Twitter research, 49 percent of consumers seek purchase guidance from social media influencers. Micro-influencers, while similar to regular influencers, work on a smaller scale with higher engagement rates and a more targeted audience. But this strategy only works when influencers are genuine advocates of your brand. So look amongst your current customers to find influencers who already love your products and reach out to them with an attractive partnership proposal (and samples!).
Now that you know which steps to undertake to secure a spotlight in the press, it’s time to put on that marketer’s hat. Not only will you draw new customers to your business, your team and current customers will rally around the company’s exclusive feature in the media. It’s a win-win!