How the media work

CogsIf you are you reluctant to seek publicity, you’re not alone. Many small businesses hold back because:

  • they’re not sure what their newsworthy story is – or even if they have one
  • they can’t imagine an editor or program manager paying attention to little ol’ them
  • they perceive the media to be an impenetrable establishment suffused with mystique

As a former magazine editor, I’ll let you in on a secret. Editors don’t sit behind large desks with a team of bodyguards fending off news releases as if they were deadly arrows. There is a certain amount of filtration going on, but in the end, editors want good stories. Good editors and journalits go looking for them.

So let’s take those three fears listed above and use them to demystify the media step by step.

Your story
Every small business has a story. In order to survive, you need to have some kind of edge over your competitor – something that sets you apart and makes you interesting. That’s your story.

Investigate some of the publications you think your clientele will be reading. Chances are there’ll be a few small enterprises in amongst the content. What is it that makes them compelling?

Paying attention
So once you have your story, why would the lauded editor enthroned in the sanctity of their office care about a little person like you? Because you’re fascinating – that’s why. Because you have passion, energy, imagination. Because you have something different to offer to that editor’s readership.

Remember the editor’s job is to serve the readership (and the advertisers, but that’s another issue for another blog). You have something they want – a good story.

That impenetrable establishment
Never be intimidated by the media. It’s important not to hassle editors and journalists because, just like you, they’re very busy people. But listening to you is part of their job, so don’t be afraid to call.

There are real people behind those castellated walls, so phone up and ask who you should direct your news release to.

Email the release, then phone again a couple of days later to make sure it got to the right person and to offer something more.

But note: Don’t call just to say, did you get my release? That would be like someone calling you to say, did you receive your mail today? How annoying is that? Call with something to offer. And my advice is great quality, compelling photos. Journalists love them.

What if they don’t run my story?
There are no guarantees with editorial. You can only guarantee space if you pay for it. If your story doesn’t get a run, it doesn’t mean it’s not a good story – believe me, I know. There are just a myriad of stories out there all competing for attention.

So don’t crawl back into your shell. Give it another go next week or next month. You are interesting – we do want to read about you.