Tuesday, November 25, 2014

5 Easy Steps to Build Your First Media Outreach Plan

By Sarah Larson

At the core of every marketing and public relations effort is the story you want to tell. We recently shared several possible story ideas for new or small business owners.

Once you have identified your story, you then have to decide what to do with it. Who will care about it? How can it benefit your business? To answer those questions effectively, you need some strategy - and if you don't have a strategy, it's time to devise one. Everything takes time and time costs money. Make sure the time you're putting into your promotional efforts doesn't go to waste. Here are some questions we ask clients to help focus their efforts:

Does this story have a personal connection to one of your team members? If so, know or find out where they grew up, where they live now, where they went to school, whether they are members of clubs or organizations, etc. Then look up:
  • Local newspaper / local online site where the person grew up
  • Local newspaper / local online site where the person lives now
  • Alumni publications at schools the person attended
  • Publications that the member groups produce - chambers of commerce and professional organizations often put out newsletters or magazines aimed at members.
  • Religious or social publications
Where do most of your customers / clients come from? If the majority of your customers or clients hail from a specific audience - people who practice a particular trade, for example - find out if any specialized magazines or newsletters cater to that audience and get in touch with them. Likewise for any important new hires. If that person is a well regarded specialist in a particular field, their change of employment could be a news item for any publications that cater to that profession.

Does your business benefit from B2B relationships? If other business owners are your best referral source, you want to be in the publications they read. Look for a regional business journal operating in your area and make a habit of dropping the reporter who covers your industry a line to let them know what's going on in your shop. They appreciate being kept in the loop, even if they don't respond to every piece of information you send them.

Does your area have any independent news websites or blogs covering local business? Don't underestimate the reach of these relatively new information channels. People read them, and their editors want to hear from you.

Do you have your own website? Of course you do. But do you have a “news” section on that website? You should. And you should post your news story there. Then you should share the link to that page in your email signature (updated regularly), on your company’s social media channels, and in your company’s electronic newsletter. If you don’t have a formal newsletter, send the link to clients you think might be interested in reading about your news.

Media coverage is just one ingredient in a well-rounded public relations plan, but it is a significant one. Journalists want to tell good stories, especially about people. But they can't tell the stories they don't know about. Make it easier for them to tell your story.

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