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How to Get Your Company Noticed by Media

by Brian D. Chmielewski

If it's so easy to make yourself newsworthy to gain publicity, then why isnít everyone doing it?

The fact is that news is simply anything that interests another person. If that person happens to be in the business of promoting, writing or delivering content, then you will have a great chance of getting your newsworthy content announced. Editors and producers have the tremendous challenge of coming up with new stories to fill their pages and air slots and it isn't always easy to fill that space. This provides a great opportunity for you to suggest news and become their ally. By highlighting achievements properly, youíll be working cooperatively with the media, which will cause local editors to welcome article submissions from you. Once you deliver your news content, know that a reporter might arrange a more comprehensive story or choose to graft only a few elements of your release. Donít sweat it, since any mention based from your press release is precious editorial enrichment of you.

Even in some of the top markets in the country, reporters must seek out interesting stories and news. If you are articulate and can present yourself as serving the community, rather than merely trying to seek publicity and make a profit and if your information somehow meshes with editorial thoughts of the media, youíre a shoe-in for free publicity.

Whatís News
For those who have never written a press release or have rendered idle progress from your news, here is a simple routine for weaving news for the editorial web. Visit your library or bookstore and page through newspapers from the markets that you are trying to reach. Pay attention to the types of stories and the headlines being used to understand the editorial style being used. Chances are that many of the events or situations that you read about are the products of proper timing, good content and established relationships with journalists. Here are some popular themes that lend themselves to free publicity:

  • Organizing an event open to the public or hosting an open house

  • Achieving significant recognition in your field

  • Releasing a book or record, opening of an exhibit, etc.

  • Performing an important service to the community

  • Running for office, writing legislation, testifying at hearings, etc.

  • Inventing, manufacturing, or offering a new product or service

  • Being present at--or, better still, involved in--major news events

  • Joining or taking leadership in a professional or community service

  • organization - especially one with membership standards
  • Offering apprenticeships, training programs, classes, or opportunities to volunteer

  • Teaching, lecturing, or presenting at a professional conference

  • Winning a contest, sweepstakes, or lottery

  • Offering franchises of your business or moving or opening a new branch

  • Hiring or promotion of employees

Itís important to use your imagination since journalists are bombarded with non-eventful self-promotional press releases on a daily basis. Give then something that benefits them and that makes them feel good about attaching their name to. You may not care how you gain exposure to a mass audience, but a journalist must be accountable for the freshness and value of the news they announce and the way in which itís delivered. Remember their goals of reporting news and serving the community and blend with that agenda.

Make Life Easier for the Editor
You will benefit greatly if, from the outset, you present yourself as a person that editors want to work with by being friendly and approachable, articulate and concise. Anticipate that reporters will ask you many questions and be prepared to answer then all truthfully. Donít be afraid to say you don't know something. Better to offer to research the answer and get back to them at a later date than to have conflicting research uncover your attempts to beguile. For the same reason, never give an answer you're not sure is accurate. If you're running an event or seminar, announce it to the press on advance and let them in for free. Familiarize yourself with the standards, deadlines, publication schedules and editorial calendar or every media outlet you work with and above all, give journalists time to write their story. Contacting editors and reporters right at deadline, when theyíre frantically trying to get all the stories out, is a sure way to get your blackballed.

Seminars, Open Houses and Other Public Events
Public events are the easiest way to earn free publicity since they give the press a tangible, time-specific event that can easily be treated as news. Calendar events are commonplace, so journalists know how to cover them and, better yet, editors feel it their obligation to document community event activity in the public record. So whenever possible, link your publicity agenda to some kind of event, since it will almost automatically be reported upon.

For example, if youíre planning on slashing your prices for an upcoming sale, consider an alternative way of promoting the sale as an event by moving away from the commercial aspects and toward some community benefit thatís more noteworthy. Turn your sale into an evening of ice-skating for charity, with proceeds going toward the charity and reduced prices on ice skates, hats, gloves, socks and coats. Or, arrange for a recognized professional to demonstrate personal use of your product and reduce the cost on that product for the day. Maybe youíll get Viktor Petrenko to perform a few triple axles for your audience while wearing ice skates from your store. It's not necessary to have a sale as part of your event, since an event can happen wonderfully without a sale. But if you want a sale, you can get a lot more publicity if you focus on the event. At the bottom of your release, mention the sale: "In conjunction with the charity ice skate-a-thon, Tomís Sports is offering reduced prices on all ice skates and ice skating wear."

Connect Through Community Relations
If you took my earlier advice and looked through the pages of your favorite newspaper, youíll notice one fairly common theme with event announcements - the events contain an element of charity or community service. From holiday food donations and community education to community improvement projects and fundraising, itís always easier for a business to harvest free publicity if it's also promoting a cause. The size of your time and financial contribution does not matter as long as the cause is something you genuinely believe in. Trying to perform charitable affairs insincerely can be revealed and do more damage than good to your public reputation.

Make the Media Invest in You
Every media outlet is required by federal law to provide a set number of hours of public service programming per year. By involving local newspapers and broadcast stations directly in your event, youíre providing them with an opportunity to maintain their FCC license. Balance that with the fact that publications have a vested interest in maintaining their credibility as the watchdog of the community and you should arrive at an understanding of what is acceptable to cover and what is not.

In any case, you should attempt to enlist the media as a sponsor of your event. While you expend financial and time resources in building and operating an event, a media sponsor can furnish you with an abundance of free publicity, through reports and broadcasts on the event. Sponsoring events demonstrates a media outlet's community interest and also lets the public socialize with media personalities. In the end, sponsorships do a lot to contribute to the positive image of the station and offers immeasurable benefit to you.