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Make the news: Easy media relations efforts for small businesses
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As a small business, you are no doubt looking for cost-effective ways to get the word out about your business and your products or services. Media relations can help.Media relations refers to the practice of reaching out to and establishing relationships with members of the media to inform the public of your organization and business. In doing so, your business’s news takes on a certain level of credibility when reported by someone outside of your company, and it has a greater opportunity of reaching larger audiences without the cost associated with direct mail campaigns.

Furthermore, establishing and maintaining relationships with members of the media allows for familiarity and rapport to be built, so when the time comes to contact them, they will be more likely to return your phone call or read your e-mail. Established relationships also open the door for media to come directly to you when seeking news, products to review, expert opinions or responses to current events.

Extra! Extra! Read all about the top dos and don’ts of small business media relations:

  1. DO define your audience and DO conduct research
    Are you hoping to gain new business (new customers)? Be recognized within an industry (your peers or competitors)? Or, just build visibility within your community (the public)? What does this audience read or watch? Where are they located? What are they interested in? Defining the audience and the best channels to reach them is not only a basic tenet of marketing and communications, but it will also help in identifying the appropriate media contact to help spread the word when conducting media relations.
  2. DO decide what you want to say—DON’T be boringIdentify your business’s message and craft if carefully and thoughtfully so that it is unique and its potential interest to your audience is apparent.Many local journalists enjoy writing features that illustrate positive impact in the community. A great way to actively seek these newsworthy items is to capture the thoughts and stories of your consumers. Create customer feedback surveys with open-ended questions and entice people to participate by entering those who complete these surveys in a drawing. Give away affordable, yet fun branded totes like a Two-Tone Tote Bag or the Open Wide Tool Bag.
  3. DO identify the right media outlets so you DON’T spam reporters
    Before you send a release or pick up the phone, make sure the outlet caters to your audience and the reporter you are contacting writes about that type of news. You should also be familiar with the content and writing style of the reporter you are contacting so that you can have a general idea of his or her potential interest prior to contacting him or her. Just as you take the time to research and identify an audience for your message, you must also take the time and effort to do the same for media. Don’t fall victim to crying wolf syndrome—if you barrage reporters repeatedly with content that they don’t write about or within a beat they do not cover, they are more likely to ignore you … even when that day does come that you send something their way that truly IS of interest.
  4. DO say thank you and stay connected
    When a story or article you pitched is published or an editor chooses to run a press release that you sent to them, be sure to acknowledge these events and thank the reporter or editors involved. Send them a small gift of gratitude for extra spectacular coverage like a handy Sprial Pocket Flag Buddy with Pen or scrumptious Drinking Dots. Also, be sure to thank employees or customers who participated in the article or the interview process by sending a small thank you like a Boogie Bot and a note that says “You rock!” or a Hand Clapper and a “Thanks for giving a hand!” note . After the article has run or the story has aired, make an effort to stay in contact with the media outlet—whether it be a quick hello, a comment on an article, or to pitch new stories and articles. Keep your business at the top of their mind by including a Business Card Magnet or a classic Helsinki Pen with your contact information on it.

Now, get out there and spread the word—build relationships with media and pretty soon you and your audiences will be reading all about it!

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