Getting press coverage is a tough mountain to climb – which is why many companies invest a substantial chunk of their marketing budget in hiring a PR agency. These experts will devote their time to finding publications that are willing to publish articles that feature your business or expertise in some way.
If you’re a small business it’s tempting to think that your local weekly or daily newspaper is a good place to start – but it’s probably not the easiest nut to crack. Every other small business in the area will be hoping that their press release will get published and the editors have seen most of the stories before.
Your best bet is to get into the professional or trade publications that your target audience reads. Most industries have them – People Management for HR and Training managers, The Caterer for the hospitality business, The Grocer for the retail food industry, Accountancy Age for Accountants … and so on.
If you’re a plumber you don’t want to appear in the Heating & Plumbing Monthly – as the readership is likely to be other plumbers, but you might want to get featured in The Property Hub as an expert in property refurbs.
I get clients who will argue that a specialist publication has a relatively small distribution – perhaps only a few thousand, while getting into a national or glossy magazine puts them in front of millions. The problem is that those millions are not all your ideal clients – in fact, very few of them are likely to be – while the right industry journal gives you a captive audience who are predominantly the right readers.
How to get your article published
Firstly, read an issue or two or the publication you’re aiming for – and see what kind of article they feature. What could you write about that would fit into their publication?
Secondly, forget about press releases – you’ll be coming at this from a different angle. This isn’t about you promoting your business directly, it’s not a ‘news’ piece. You should aim to share something of value – a ‘how to …’ article or ‘the 3 mistakes … and how to avoid them’ or a ‘what you need to know about …’ article.
Thirdly, get in touch. The best way to get published is to talk to the editor and ask some questions. These are some examples:
Do you accept articles that aren’t commissioned?
Would you be interested in an article on [subject]?
Is there another topic around [your expertise] your readers would be interested in?
How do you prefer articles to be submitted?
What is the deadline for your next issue?
If you can comment on previous issues it will show you’ve bothered to do your research. If you can explain why you think an article about X would help their readers it also helps to make your case. Don’t just send an article in on spec.
Many industry journals don’t have a big editorial staff, so good articles are often welcome.
Remember not all publications appear in hard copy, there are many digital publications too.
Do some planning and reading and you’ve a much higher chance of getting in front of people who could be your next clients.