Landing big pieces of press coverage can do wonders for any SME. However, many small business owners are reluctant to take the leap due to small budgets, without realising that they can secure excellent brand exposure without having to break the bank. Here are three simple ways to land such coverage without exhausting your marketing budget:
1. Product placements
Many top tier press outlets have buying guide sections on their websites and the majority of online editions of major print publications frequently run gift round ups and inspiration pieces at key seasonal times throughout the year. As such, there are plenty of opportunities for small businesses to get their products and services featured.
Start by going through all of the shopping guides on the publications you want to be seen in and find the journalists writing the ones in your space. If you run a local beauty salon, for example, find local journalists writing about cosmetics or beauty in general. Note down their email addresses or Twitter profile and simply pop a polite email over introducing yourself and your business. Ask whether there are any planned roundups that might be a relevant fit for you. This is a great way to make initial contact - even a handful of promising leads at this point is a great start.
2. Offer expert insight or comment
Journalists are not specialists in all areas they write in. Many journalists write on specialist topics like healthcare or education without having qualifications in those areas. So, to ensure factual accuracy and credibility in their articles, they’ll often seek third-party commentary. Many will head for media request services to seek out what they need. It's therefore well worth signing up to a media enquiry service, such as Press Plugs or Response Source (outlined below) to ensure you're in the loop.
Similarly, many will use #journorequest on Twitter to find what they need. Responding here can be a quick way to secure a mention in a big name publication, so keep an eye out.
3. Produce something newsworthy
This is a big one because it can encompass absolutely anything. It could involve producing a whitepaper or a much simpler piece of newsworthy research. This needs a solid idea, often some production (content, images or similar) and then distribution:
- Research what sort of content your target publications are covering. If they’re covering a lot of research pieces, then a research piece could be useful. If they seem to be more interested in quirky stunts of product offers, take that route.
- Assess the tone of your target publications. Do they offer thought-leadership pieces, or guides and advice-led content? What’s their overall perception of the industry you’re in? You’ll need to take that into account before tailoring your pitch accordingly.
- Come up with unique ideas that will draw attention for the right reasons. There are lots of ways to do this, from general brainstorming, to solo creative sessions, right through to organised brainwriting techniques.
- Get some third-party input at this point. It’s helpful if you can reach out to journalists to ask their opinion. But in the very least, proof articles with people not involved in the project to find out whether the piece has the impact you're hoping for.
- Produce any complementary assets that can add to the piece. This could be a product landing page, a press release, graphics, write ups etc - this will vary project to project.
- As you near the end of production, begin sending out emails to journalists (more on where you’ll find them below).
This can be a cost-effective tactic, but success is by no means guaranteed as there’s a lot of competition for journalist’s attention. However, if you have a compelling idea and get this right, you can land a lot of coverage.
I've mentioned a few useful tools above, and it's well worth taking a closer look at a few of them to help you secure those big pieces of coverage:
1. Journolink: This is a press release distribution service with some media database functionality too. It's generally considered to be a cost-effective way to find journalist email addresses or distribute press releases. Prices start from £33/month.
2. Press Plugs: This is a media enquiry service used by journalists to seek out comment or sometimes product for forthcoming pieces they’re working on. Prices start from £29/month.
3. Response Source: This is a more costly media enquiry service, but is hugely popular. It has a media database (for finding email addresses for journalists) and also a media enquiry service. The media enquiry service is divided into topic areas and a single topic area can cost over £400 per year. The media database runs into thousands per year.
4. Meltwater: This too is a media database and also enables you to track coverage and find journalists based on the topics they’re currently writing on. Pricing is £2000+ per year.
Nobody knows your business' products or service better than you. So consider taking PR into your own hands and see how much coverage you can land by using the tactics above.
About the Author
Stacey MacNaught is a content marketing specialist who has spoken at a number of global marketing events on the topic of content promotion and digital PR. She's been writing copy for businesses since 2006 and has been managing SEO for companies across the UK and Europe since 2009. Stacey also runs her own digital marketing agency, MacNaught Digital.