Producing sharable content for social media channels helps garner brand ambassadors, but don’t underestimate the power of traditional media outlets.
Exposure in newspapers, television news and radio programming will help generate buzz about your start up. And it’s not as hard to achieve as some public relations professionals would have you believe. Even so, there are some things you need to know when trying to generate coverage from the comfort of your virtual office.
1. Start Local
Let’s face it. As a start-up, you’re probably not going to get coverage in the New York Times or on the Today show. Instead, start with your local media outlets. It’s much easier to solidify your media relations skills when you’re on your home turf. And you’ll be able to gain access to reporters much easier when they’re right across town from your virtual office.
2. Know What’s Newsworthy
Journalists aren’t in the business of simply promoting new businesses so they’re probably not going to write a feature about you and your start up. Unless your startup fills a highly specific niche, chances are you’ll need to get creative when pitching an idea to an editor or reporter.
Reporters look for compelling stories that are interesting to a broad range of people. They also seek out stories that are appropriate for a specific time or year or season. For example, if your company creates educational skills apps for kids, pitch a story about how technology is helping boost kids’ interest in math and science. Pitch the idea in July as reporters are thinking about back-to-school story ideas.
3. Establish Yourself as an Expert Source
Reporters always need sources for stories so establish yourself as an expert who can help. You can use services like Help a Reporter Out which connects journalists with people who can speak about specific topics. Make sure local reporters are aware of your expertise and your willingness to serve as a source. And when a reporter reaches out to you, make every effort to respond quickly or the reporter will move on to the next name in the contact list.
4. Localize National Stories
Monitor national media stories so you can help your hometown media “localize” trends, breaking news or business stories. Let’s say your company creates software to protect consumers from identify theft. If a national retailer experiences a credit card security breach, use the national story to your advantage. Invite a local reporter to your executive suites so you can talk about how your software protects consumers when breaches occur.
5. Seek the Right Outlet for the Message
Think about the types of stories your local media cover. Your daily newspaper probably doesn’t cover ribbon cuttings and grand openings, but the local shopper might. That’s the paper you sometimes find in restaurants and doctors’ offices. It’s usually free and features a lot of advertisements and photos. These papers cover a wider range of business events because they want the businesses they feature to buy advertising. And since they’re free, many people look at them each week.
And if you’re trying to get coverage from a television news channel, remember these outlets need something visual to include in a story. Even if the news hook is soft, if there’s something interesting to film, you might just get coverage. For example, if you own a doggy daycare and decide to dress the pets in Halloween costumes on a sunny October afternoon, you might get coverage of the event since it offers an enticing visual component.
Don’t limit yourself to social media campaigns. Traditional media outlets can help launch your startup from the virtual office to the executive suite.