Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Nikki Woods. Nikki is a media expert, best-selling author and motivational speaker as well as the former senior producer of the nationally-syndicated “Tom Joyner Morning Show, an urban radio show that reaches more than 8 million people each day. Her company, NikkiWoodsMedia.com, helps speakers, experts, entrepreneurs and authors get the visibility they need, to build the businesses they want that generates the revenue they love.
SmallBizLady: Why is it so important for a business to get coverage by the press?
Nikki Woods: Establishing yourself and your business as an expert in your field builds confidence with customers and clients. It’s also a great form of free advertising.
SmallBizLady: What are some tips for getting your business in the news?
Nikki Woods: Here are a few tips to get your company noticed by the press:
- Create a media contact list specific to your location and industry.
- Send targeted pitches to your media contact list.
- Follow up on your pitches.
- Get involved in your community.
- Engage on social media.
- Stay current on trends and use ‘newsjacking’ when possible.
- Keep your website current and include a media section.
- Attend networking events.
SmallBizLady: How do you build a media contact list?
Nikki Woods: The first step is to define your audience, so you know who to target. Then find local and national media outlets that fit your target audience. It’s best to look at the type of stories they cover and make sure it matches what you want to pitch to them.
Do a search for all types of media—television stations, radio, podcasts, blogs, magazines, and newspapers. Look for media in your surrounding area. Often, they want stories from local businesses, so this might be the easiest way to gain press coverage.
SmallBizLady: Tell me about pitching to a media contact list.
Nikki Woods: Reporters get hundreds of pitches a day. Write your pitch so that it has an engaging angle and will get noticed. Don’t try to sell yourself or your business. Instead, focus on establishing yourself as an expert by giving the reporter the information they need for their story.
The best advice is to find the right person to send your pitch to. For example, a newspaper may have a couple of people who handle the business section, but there might be one person who handles the part that would be the best fit for you and your business.
SmallBizLady: So, it sounds like knowing a reporter gets your pitch more noticed. How do you build a relationship with them?
Nikki Woods: Make sure to follow media outlets and reporters on social media. “Like” and share their stories. Leave comments about articles that show your expert opinions. Invite the media to any of your business events. Also, attend networking events whenever possible.
SmallBizLady: What kind of networking events should you attend?
Nikki Woods: Check out your local chamber of commerce or industry associations. Often, they have networking events that local media will attend. You can even find them by searching through Facebook events. Carry your business cards and pass them out!
SmallBizLady: If you don’t get a response from a pitch, when should you send a follow-up?
Nikki Woods: If you are going to get a reply, it’s often because of a follow-up email. Wait three or four days and send a simple email reiterating the points of the original pitch. It’s best to keep the email short. You can send another one a few days after, but don’t bombard them with follow-up emails. You can always send an email with a different angle later.
I’ve heard the term ‘newsjacking’ thrown around. What exactly does that mean?
Nikki Woods: You should set up Google alerts and follow trends on Twitter that are relevant to your business. When a topic related to your business is trending, you can inject your own ideas and expertise which will translate into press coverage.
SmallBizLady: What is the importance of having a media section on your website?
Nikki Woods: Remember that reporters are busy, and they don’t have time to search around your website for a professional headshot or information about you and your business. Keep your media section updated and give the URL as part of your response to media inquiries.
SmallBizLady: What are the benefits of community involvement?
Nikki Woods: The press tends to cover charity events. A donation can get you noticed but donating your time to a cause can help establish your expertise.
For example, if you are a business coach, you could do a free workshop at a halfway house and provide people with the confidence and training to find a job.
If you are a relationship expert, you could offer your time at a women’s shelter. You could talk to the residents about the signs of an abusive relationship and how to avoid getting into one.
Reporters appreciate human interest stories because it’s more about helping people and not about self-promotion.
SmallBizLady: Do you have any advice on what not to do?
Nikki Woods: Don’t overlook smaller media outlets because they are not as big as others. Getting your business in the news is a process, and you have to start somewhere. Smaller media outlets can offer more personal attention and often longer articles.
Make sure you are available when a reporter contacts you. Be helpful and quick in responding to any requests. Reporters often have little time and want complete answers as soon as possible.
SmallBizLady: How long does it take to build up media coverage for your business?
Nikki Woods: Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back from reporters right away. It can take several months or even a year before you start seeing results. There are many businesses and people wanting to establish themselves as experts in their field and are vying for the same attention. Just remember—persistence is key.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.
Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/1hZeIlz