Small businesses crave publicity. Probably the number one question I’m asked as a PR practitioner is “how can I get more publicity?”
Often businesses think that the media should write profiles about them simply because they exist and they “want to get the word out.”
Sorry. It doesn’t work that way.
Your business may be the most important thing in your life, but unless there’s a unique angle that you can explain simply and directly, it’s not newsworthy. And by unique, I don’t mean, “I’m the owner, and I’m unique.”
Let me give you an example. My friend Beverly Shepard is not a small business owner, but her story illustrates what’s needed to get publicity. Like many people, Beverly recently got laid off. Unlike most people, Beverly developed a creative, unique approach to her job search – she’s offered a finder’s fee of up to $6,000 to anyone who lands her a job anywhere in the U.S.
As soon as I got Bev’s email announcing the finder’s fee to her friends, I knew that this was a hot story idea. I volunteered to write a media release and send it to the local news outlets, and within 48 hours, Bev’s story was featured twice on Norfolk, Virginia’s ABC affiliate station. So what makes this story a winner?
- It’s unexpected. Beverly is offering to pay for a job – turning upside down the concept that jobs pay people, people don’t pay for jobs.
- It’s timely. Unemployment and the economy is the number one topic on everyone’s mind, and this provides a fresh, local angle on a national story.
- It has controversy. Part of the story is that Beverly got the idea to pay friends to get her a job because she had already paid a search firm $6,000 to get her a job, and the firm didn’t even line up one interview for her, calling into question the legitimacy of that search firm. Several other reporters are interested in writing the story from this angle. Apparently scams are cropping up more and more as the job market goes south.
- It’s trendy. Beverly is using social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube to promote her job search and her offer.
- It’s simple. Nobody needs an engineering or chemistry degree to understand it.
- We can relate. If you have never been laid off personally, you certainly know somebody who has. You understand the desperate feeling and the lengths you are willing to go to get a job.
Does your story have these elements? Are you working in a field that is difficult to explain and not very “sexy” to the media? What can you do to create a “hot” story for your business? I’ll address those questions in Part II: How to Create Hot Story Pitches to Gain Scads of Media Attention.