Being featured in a publication that your potential clients read is fantastic for raising your profile, letting people get to know your business better and standing out from the crowd. So how do you get into print?
Before you start ringing up the editor of your local paper – stop! Press coverage is great – in the right places. For instance, if you’re trying to reach local accountancy firms it’s easy to think that your local newspaper will be perfect, but that depends very much on the business section. If it’s a good meaty business section with a good financial focus, you’d be right in thinking your local accounting firms are likely to read it. However, if the business section doesn’t have much of interest to an accountant, they probably don’t read it with their business head on. They might read the newspaper, but they’ll catch up with it when they are at home, being a member of the local community, rather than as an accountant. That means your message may miss them altogether.
Getting into the press is not simply a matter of writing up what your company has done recently and then firing it off to all the publications you can think of – you need to do a bit more leg work than that! Here are the essential steps to getting into print:
1. Be clear about who you want to influence and then find out what they read. Those are the publications you want to appear in.
2. Take the time to contact the relevant editor (not the managing editor, but the editor for the section you aim to appear in). Find out what kind of material they are looking for, the type of story, the way they prefer to receive it, how they resource potential stories and articles etc.
3. Read two or three issues of your chosen publications and get a feel for their approach and style.
4. Ensure that you have a good story – moving office, engaging a new member of staff (unless they are very high profile) or winning an award isn’t enough on its own, you need to have a good story behind the facts.
5. Stick to the facts – don’t embellish or get too descriptive; if they are interested they’ll follow up with you. Make sure anything you mention can be substantiated – statistics, quotes, etc.
6. Submit your item in the way the editor has requested (and resist the urge to promote or, worse, sell your products or services).
7. Don’t harass the editor to publish, it’s the quickest way to get ignored. Either follow the publication to see when you get into print or get a clipping service to do it for you.
Remember that press releases are just one way of getting into print, articles and features are also good ways to get coverage and you’ll need to discuss this when you speak to the editor. If you like writing and are confident that you can maintain it ask about a regular column too. Some industry publications like a reliable columnist who always delivers good quality content for their readers.
If you don’t feel confident writing your own press releases get professional help, but be aware that crafting a good press release takes time and developing relationships with your chosen publications takes even longer. If it’s important to your marketing strategy to be highly visible be prepared to pay for these services.