Every brand has a story to tell, but is your story newsworthy? How does an appearance on Good Morning America sound? What about making the front page of your city’s newspaper? Every business owner wants great public relations and TV appearances, but two things hold them back from pulling the trigger – understanding of the industry and money. Small businesses have limited budgets and many can’t afford to hire someone to handle their PR, but that doesn’t mean a small business can’t have as good of PR as a big business with a much bigger budget.
When it comes to the media relations aspect of PR, all a business needs is a great story to tell. To do that, keep these three things in mind.
- Be different. The media gets a lot of phone calls, emails, and even snail mail every day. If you are too conventional, you will get lost in the shuffle. Find a creative way to stand out. While you’re thinking outside the box, think of great visuals, interesting interviews, and unique talking points. For example, instead of sending a pitch with text in an email, try sending a video instead.
- Remember your goal. Yes, it’s to get publicity, but why? Is it to bring in new customers? Is it to add the media organization’s logo to your website? Is it to motivate your staff? Don’t waste your time or money going after something you may not even want. Keep your eye on the prize and that will help you when you pitch the media.
- It’s not who you know, it’s what you have. Sure, knowing someone in the media helps, but having a great story is even more important. There are so many brands who have made international news without a publicist, but with an incredible story. If you use that story to target your goal publication or TV show, and include lots of personalization in that pitch, you will be golden!
Remember, your local TV station or newspaper is not going to give you a free commercial. If that’s what you want, you need to buy an advertisement. If you want free coverage, you need to tell a newsworthy story.
Making something newsworthy means having a real person to interview. Here’s an example: If you own a bilingual preschool and want to drum up media exposure, tell the story of a young boy who is now able to converse with his grandparents because he learned Spanish. Tell the story of the little girl who is teaching her parents how to speak another language. Those are real people with real stories.
Use the the three E’s to determine if a story is newsworthy:
Will it entertain the audience? There is so much stuff, for lack of a better word, on TV and online, that it’s hard to stay engaged. Make sure your story will keep an audience’s attention.
Will it educate the audience? People like to read and watch stories that offer them some kind of value or take away. Give it to them.
Does it have emotion? Your real person is usually your emotional element, and a much needed one. Why do you think animal videos go viral so much? They play on your emotions. Look for the emotion in your story in employees or customers.
Now, think about your business – how it started, where it is located, the people you work with, the people you help. There must be a story in there somewhere.
About the author
Christina Nicholson is a former TV reporter and anchor who now owns and operates a public relations firm, Media Maven. She teaches small business owners how to handle public relations on their own. She lives in South Florida with her husband and two young children.