Excerpted from Homemade For Sale by Lisa Kivirist and John Ivanko
Everyone’s business and food products could make a great topic for an article. But what’s your hook and news angle to get free media coverage? The following ten steps will help increase the likelihood of receiving the media exposure you deserve.
Step 1: Identify your media goals
In addition to increasing awareness of your products and business, what specifically do you want to accomplish with your PR campaign? You may want to generate press clippings, gather endorsements, collect testimonials or grow your customer base. For example, do you want to introduce a new product or invite your community to a product demo party event?
Step 2: Create your compelling story
Identify your strengths, unique characteristics and what makes your products and background special. Keep your story simple and describe it as if you’re talking with a friend.
Step 3: Develop a media list
Compile a list of media contacts, including the names of writers, journalists or producers who regularly cover related topics. Start a file of articles published or aired by those journalists, since this might be a way to make an initial contact. If you have the time and inclination, build relationships with journalists before you pitch your first story idea. Thanks to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, this is easier than ever before. When contacting someone, it often helps to tell them how much you enjoyed a story they wrote or produced.
Step 4: Write a press release
Follow the standard press release format. See the sample press kit on this book’s website (homemadeforsale.com) for a downloadable template.
Step 5: Capture visuals, both photographs and video
A picture is worth a thousand words, it’s often said. Don’t miss an opportunity to share your story visually. High-quality digital single-lens reflex (SLR) and GoPro video cameras make taking great shots a breeze. Make sure you capture images at a high resolution so they can be used in print or even on TV. With photos or video, you can turn a small mention into a larger feature or product profile. Shrinking budgets at various media with limited photography capability may allow you to showcase your story more effectively. Visual content is in demand more than ever, by magazines, newspapers and even the associated Press. Plus, you can capture the images you want, presenting your products in the best light.
Step 6: Time your press release
Most magazines work ahead from three to six months (or more) when covering a story. Newspapers work a week ahead. Don’t forget about local radio, since people interact with the media in many ways; those who watch lots of TV may not regularly listen to the radio. Internet media, like food bloggers, are always eager to cover stories and enjoy passing out free samples to their readers; plus, their blogs can sometimes go viral, which means what they write gets picked up, over and over again, by other bloggers.
Step 7: Submit your release
E-mail your release to a specific person or media contact, then follow up with a telephone call or e-mail about one or two weeks later to make sure they received it. Ask the assignment editor, producer or journalist if the story has been “assigned,” or if it’s still being reviewed. While targeting major outlets, focus on the media you believe you have the best chance of reaching; perhaps these media cover topics related to your products or regularly include “human interest” features.
Step 8: Accept and manage the interview (and photography session)
The interview or meeting can be the most enjoyable part of working with the media. Relax and just be you. Your enthusiasm will carry the interview, but make sure you share your story about your products. Avoid “going off the record” about anything and minimize detailed or complex issues. A little warm hospitality goes a long way with journalists; send them home with some of your product.
Step 9: Offer thanks for the media coverage
After an article or story has run or aired, send a thank you note and keep in touch as future story ideas arise.
Step 10: Keep track of it all
Keep a list with links of media articles about your products and your business. An easy way to do this is to set up a free “Google Alert” via Google with your name and the name of your products and business. Google will send you a link via e-mail every time they track something with your name in it. Set up an alert here: google.com/alert. Once you’ve received a glowing review or business profile, don’t let it stop there. Share the media article or coverage on your website or via social media, making sure to tag the writer or media source using the @ or # sign, depending on the social media, so it shows up on their social media page.
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This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Homemade For Sale by Lisa Kivirist and John Ivanko and published by New Society, 2015.