A small business owner working on press coverage

7 Press Coverage Strategies for Small Business

Press coverage strategies can introduce your brand to thousands of potential customers in an unbiased way. Here are seven tips to help your small business make headlines.

Press coverage strategies can give a huge boost to any marketing plan. Appearing in a local paper, specialty website or business magazine can introduce your brand to thousands of potential customers at no cost at all. Better yet: Media mentions are generally perceived as having more unbiased credibility than paid advertisements.

How can you take advantage of these remarkable benefits? Here are seven steps to get started:

1. Plan Your Pitching

Instead of sending a one-size-fits-all press release to a mailing list, target publications that seem like a good fit. Make a list of local and regional papers, area business and lifestyle magazines, and websites that are likely to attract your ideal customers. Then look at staff pages to find the name of the editor or a reporter likely to cover a story like yours. Those are the people you'll want to send your pitch to.

2. Know Your News

One of the most common mistakes is pitching your product or company rather than your story. Instead, find a compelling narrative, colorful characters, actionable advice or a connection to a newsworthy trend that your business can offer. The best pitches have one of these hooks and news of their own to offer: a product launch, a merger or a new CEO, for example.

3. Get to the Point

Are you hosting an event? Put it in the first paragraph. Is your product a must-have for an upcoming holiday? First paragraph. Do you have a CEO who built the company in their garage and now captains hot-air balloons on the weekend? First paragraph. If you start with a meandering introduction or too much backstory, a busy reporter will soon lose interest. So leave the fancy writing to the journalists and focus on getting your information out clearly and concisely.

4. Make It Easy

Your press coverage strategies should make it as simple as possible for a journalist to do their job. Every email or press release should have contact information for a specific person right at the top. Let reporters know you'll make executives available for interviews and photos, and help connect them with your customers who can share their experiences. When a reporter visits, have a folder of background information at the ready.

5. Be Open and Be Specific

The more candid you are about your successes, challenges and plans, the more reporters will want to cover you. For a journalist used to getting vague answers, there is nothing like a company that will share numbers about revenue, growth or market share.

6. Pitch Positive

No matter how true it feels to you, never start a message to a journalist by explaining what their coverage is missing or complaining that they report too much doom and gloom. You might think you're positioning yourself as the solution, but you're actually implying these professionals are not doing their jobs well. And that's not going to win you friends — or coverage.

7. Play the Long Game

When you first contact a reporter, you might strike out — don't give up. Stay in touch periodically to keep your name and business at the top of their mind. As long as you're polite and undemanding, repeated contacts are perfectly acceptable. And if you spot emerging trends or breaking news connected to your industry or product, offer yourself up as an expert — reporters love to add regional insight to a big story.

Scoring press coverage is an ongoing project. Even if you're not ready to dive in right now, start reading local and industry news with an attentive eye, so you'll have a good idea of where and how your story fits when the time comes.