How to get press coverage for your start up or small business

Time, perserevance, knowledge and tools are what you need to learn how to get press coverage for your start-up or small business

So you’ve got a great product or service, but you need to promote it to a wider audience to make people aware of what you do, and gain those crucial clients. So what are your options?

Well, there are a wealth of tools available through social media, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. All these platforms are free and well used, however you’re competing with hundreds – if not thousands – of similar businesses pumping out similar messages on these sites.

There is of course the option of paid advertising online or in your target media. This is ideal as it would guarantee you coverage, and the advert can be written in your words. However, advertising, which is often an expensive route, is less credible as the reader knows it’s a paid placement – essentially, you’ve bought the positive words they are reading.

For a business like yours, it is much better if you gain column inches with credibility, and that is where press coverage – through PR – comes in. PR, or public relations, is the practice of working with the press and media to raise awareness or influence public opinion of a particular person, organisation, issue or event.

So essentially, it’s getting press coverage for your start up or small business in a target publication that your audience will read. With PR, you shouldn’t have to pay for the feature, the merit of the story should secure its place.

However, for many businesses, PR is a scary word. The thought of calling up a journalist about a story fills them with dread. And many business owners simply don’t know what kind of stories will interest the media, and if they have anything to offer that’s newsworthy. There is of course, the option of hiring a PR consultant. I offer consultancy which offers a guaranteed ROI that outweighs your spend. However, for many small businesses, budget is the issue. And that’s where being empowered to do it yourself is an ideal route.

I’ve been working in PR and journalism for over a decade. And in this time I’ve pitched stories to the national press, the regionals, online publications and the broadcast media.
As part of my work, I’ve also provided media relations training to business owners, and junior PR executives. It is during these training sessions that I realised that textbooks mistakes were being made again and again when it came to engaging the media. Simple faux pas such as pitching to the wrong outlet, not fulfilling interview requests or chasing for coverage meant businesses got off on the wrong foot with the press, resulting in their stories being ignored.

When working with start-ups and small business, common issues come up. One start-up said they’ve rang dozens of journalists, but none give them, their business, or their story, the time of day.

The irony is, having worked in the media with strong connections in the press, many of my journalist contacts have divulged their biggest bugbears over the years. They’re the kind of things you wouldn’t necessarily think about, unless you were in their inundated, overworked, shoes.

And that’s where I want to help. My job is to bridge that gap in understanding between journalists and businesses, find the best stories a company has to offer, and pitch it in a way that a journalist will want to read it. This has worked well for my clients, who are mainly medium sized businesses and corporates. But I wanted to do something to for businesses just like yours, and demystify PR, which is often seen as a dark art.

You see, there is a bit of an art to engaging the media, and I’d like to help you learn it. I’ve created a basic PR starter 101, which has compiled the five most common mistakes made when engaging the press, and crucially, how you can avoid them. This will hopefully help you be a little informed before you pick up the phone to sell in your story.

This is one small piece in the art of PR. There are many tools and tips, which I’ve gathered throughout my career, which I will share with you – in easy, practical and applicable chunks – so you can work on these besides your day job. They will teach you how to do your own PR, and empower you to start creating some of your own news, and build your brand.

So do take this free insight (it’s only available for January) and take the first step towards getting press coverage for your start up or small business.

If you’d like to find out how to uncover a story in your business that journalists will love to cover, download our free storyfinding toolkit here.

Halima Khatun

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