Targeting Journalists as a Small Business Owner
Where Do I Send My Great Press Release?
Hold off and don’t press “send” until you’ve done some research. A shotgun approach when courting journalists isn’t likely to provide the results your small business needs.
First, do your homework. Identify the angle of your story. Are you promoting an event? Are you announcing an expansion or grand opening? Are you sharing news of a community event or fundraiser your business has sponsored? Each of these approaches will suit some journalists more than others.
You should be familiar with the publications you are targeting. Don’t waste anyone’s time sending a financial piece on your company’s portfolio to a lifestyles publication. Not only is it inappropriate, when you do have something that would work for the lifestyle page, your release is unlikely to get serious attention if the last ten you’ve submitted have been off target for the publication.
Further, you’ll want to know something about the journalist at the publication that is most likely to print your piece. For example, if it’s a corporate event you want to get out there, it may be a features writer. Is the event health related? If so, is there a Health or Wellness staffer that should be approached? You get the point. Don’t send your Press Release on the free blood pressure screening your company is sponsoring to the Sports writer. Failing to prepare can result in your carefully crafted Press Release falling victim to the delete button.
Once you’ve identified the journalist with whom you want to work, check out the tone of their writing and their online presence. Today most journalists have social media pages and blogs that will give a good overview of their writing style and preferred topics.
Craft your release for the journalist you wish to work with. If her writing style is casual, match it in your release. By making this effort, the harried writer can see after reading your first paragraph that the information will lend itself to her writing style and area of expertise.
Ready, set, SEND
You’ve done your research, and now have selected the journalists that are the best matches for your story. Now you’ll craft the email.
First, each email is to be personalized and sent individually. No recipient wants to feel that they are part of a fishing expedition, one of a crowd. Ideally, each release will be customized a bit anyways, so sending an eblast just won’t work.
Use the email message to further personalize your approach. Let the recipient know why he or she was selected, cite an article or blogpost by the author that you particularly enjoyed, and make a brief statement as to why the attached story will be a great addition to the publication. Remember, busy, busy. Don’t ramble on.
Attach your Press Release. And please, if you’re new to PR and a do-it-yourselfer, spend an hour researching the proper format.
Go ahead and send your press release with a plan to follow up in two to three business days, preferably by phone.
The follow up call (often a phone message) is likewise to be brief. Introduce yourself and your company. Ask if they’ve had an opportunity to read your release. Ask if she thinks it might make it to print. Request a call back or email reply if you’re forced to leave a message.
If it’s no go, don’t despair! This is your opportunity to learn why, which is going to make your next press release more likely to be picked up. Tell the journalist that you’d like to work with him and come right out and ask the best way to do that. Then, adjust-retool-retry.
Follow these steps and your company’s name will be in print before you know it and you will be forging media relationships that will serve your growing business well.