I’ve never had a client who didn’t believe that their business was so exciting that reporters should be clamoring to tell their story to the world. That’s understandable. Whatever business an owner has undertaken is inherently fascinating to them.
Unfortunately, most people are so close to their business, they have lost perspective about what is newsworthy. Getting a 20-inch, front-page feature story about the opening of a crafts store – or frankly, any store, unless it is selling something truly unusual – is just not going to happen.
The mistake that most people make when trying to sell their stories to the media is that their pitches are self-serving. There’s a place for that in the media – it’s called advertising – and yes, you have to pay for it. So how do you get the kind of publicity – also called “earned media” – you want without paying for it?
You stop trying to get YOUR needs met and you figure out how to help the media get THEIR needs met. The media needs to inform its audience about something that has significant impact or entertain. How can you help them do one of those two things?
Instead of contacting the media to announce that you have opened your doors for business, or simply asking for a feature story because your business has existed for X number of years and you’ve never gotten any coverage (I’ve heard this used as a reason why you “deserve” to be featured, both as a former reporter and as a PR consultant), use your ingenuity to develop an angle that makes your story irresistible.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Identify a trend in relation to your business. If a certain product suddenly becomes hot, you’ve likely got a good story pitch.
- Localize a national story. The stock market just lost all of its gains for this year. If you are a financial planner, you might pitch a story to the local media about your perspective on how this may affect your clients who are nearing retirement age.
- Partner with a non-profit to create a fundraising event or project. We worked with Nancy’s Calico Corner, a quilting store in Newport News, who sponsored a project in which they challenged their customers to help them make 1,000 colorful pillowcases to give to homeless shelters and patients at CHKD. Nancy’s provided the precut fabric. That “feel good” story resulted in a story in the Daily Press feature section, a second story in the Daily Press quarterly women’s tabloid and a feature in The Oyster Pointer. A huge win!
- Hold a contest. If you own a furniture store, hold an ugly sofa contest. Get contestants to upload pictures to your Web site or Facebook. Let the public vote on the winner, with a new sofa as the prize. TV would love it, because it’s visual. There are hundreds of contests you can do that are relevant to your business . . . use your imagination!
- Do something that makes you unique. Perhaps you decide to close down your brick-and-mortar grocery store and become strictly an online grocery store, specializing in email orders and home delivery. That’s a pitch.
- Recognize unusual circumstances within your business when they exist. Perhaps you employ two sets of identical twins. Pitch it.
- Compile fascinating data. If you own a floral or gift shop, do a survey near Valentine’s Day to see if there is any connection between the expense of the gift and the reported happiness of the relationship or frequency of sex. (Obviously, you would need to make it possible for customers to respond with anonymity!) What a terrific story that would make!
- Buck a trend. If everyone else’s sales are lagging and your business is booming, that’s a great pitch.
- The secret to becoming irresistible to the media is the same secret to becoming irresistible to people in general – stop thinking about yourself and consider what others want. When you help others get their needs met, yours will be met in the process. All it takes is a little creativity!
If you would like help developing and pitching your stories to the media, email us today at [email protected] or call 757-930-0032.
- Seven sites that connect you directly with journalists looking for people like you to interview (thebuzzfactoree.com)
- The surprising things you will – and won’t get with news releases (thebuzzfactoree.com)
- How to find journalists to pitch on Twitter through Muck Rack (thebuzzfactoree.com)
- Storytelling: Why it works for business (thebuzzfactoree.com)
- Pitch perfect: A startup’s guide to getting coverage (thenextweb.com)