Getting local media coverage for your biz

by 11 comments
I have been reading for a while here and finally feel I have something to contribute!

I had someone ask me (in another online group) how I got (repeated) local media exposure for my business - in different cities. (I had it in one, then in another when I moved, so it has worked more than once.)

This is a general outline, but if you have questions, please ask!
  1. Define your purpose for the exposure. What do you want to happen when someone sees/hears/reads the story? Do you want a sale or a website visit that leads to a sale? Do you want people to join a list in the hopes that they will become a customer later? Be specific in what you want, but be realistic - news outlets don't just run sales ads.
  2. Research the local media outlets. Most tv stations now have short bio clips about their reporters on the site. Take your time and read about the reporters and see what interests them. If it is a newspaper, look at what types of stories they typically cover.
  3. Create your angle. Why would the local media be interested in your story? They won't be interested just because you have a new website, but they might be interested if your website showcases 10 outstanding local lady entrepreneurs or that you have a mentorship program to help single moms become entrepreneurs. You can also create a contest for media coverage.
  4. Create or have someone else create your press release.
  5. Send your press release to one person per outlet - not to them all!
  6. Become a media magnet - once you have that first interview, keep a relationship with the reporter, producer, etc. I have gotten repeat interviews simply because I keep in touch.
I hope this helps someone.
#internet marketing #biz #coverage #local #media
  • Profile picture of the author Jillian Slack
    Good info, Shay, and it's about one of my favorite topics -- getting local media coverage by using press releases.

    I've been on both sides of the press release process -- on the receiving end as a reporter at an award-winning regional business journal, and also sending press releases to the media for my own business and for clients who have hired me to write for them.

    The BIG thing to remember when sending a traditional press release to your local media is:


    Temporarily wipe the "sales letter" training out of your mind.

    Yes, YOU must sell things to earn a living.

    Yes, YOU hope the press release gets you some attention so you can sell more stuff.

    But to write an effective press release that catches the attention of an editor so she'll assign the story to a reporter (who will interview you and write a bigger story instead of running the press release as-is), you must step back and not think of it as a sales tool at all, because it's not.

    A press release should catch attention.

    It should inform.

    If its purpose is to sell, it will sound like you're trying to score a "free ad" or it will sound like fluff.

    That's not cool.

    Don't even think of your press release as selling to the editorial staff or the reader.

    The editor will say, "Geez, this isn't news. This guy just wants to sell something."

    The reader would say, "This sounds like an ad, not an article. Did they pay the newspaper to write this or something?"

    Why do YOU read articles (articles in the news, not articles like we use for article marketing -- big difference)?

    When you sit down to read the paper or a magazine, do you want to feel like you're being sold?

    Probably not.

    You want to know what's interesting about this business or the person who owns it. You want to know how the owner started the business. You want to know how come they make these unusual products or why their employee turnover rate is incredibly low. You want to know why they just moved to a huge new facility. You want to find out how the business owner is running such a high-revenue business from a tiny homebased office.

    Here are a few press release tips. Keep in mind they're just the opinion of one person. I've been writing all my life and this is what I've observed working as a reporter for a weekly business journal.

    1. Don't spam publications with your press release or send them out willy-nilly. Five of us in the same office at the same publication would often receive the same press release. This is extremely irritating and doesn't win you any brownie points because the person who SHOULD receive your press release is bombarded with questions from co-workers ("Did you get the blah blah press release yet?" "Yes, I've received it several times. Thanks.") and they're bombarded with the same press release being forwarded to them by co-workers in addition to your original. Take the time to find out who should receive the press release and send it to that person and that person only. It may seem like it's easier for you to bombard them, but would you rather be known as stress-free and courteous or that person who keeps spamming the publication?

    2. Don't conctact the publication and ask if they received your press release, if they have any questions, when they plan to run it, if they need more info, if they plan to write a story, if they'd like photos, if they need contact info from happy customers, etc. If they want to contact you, they'll contact you. A "reminder" to a busy, busy staff of reporters and editors will not endear you to them or make them suddenly want to interview you. If you make a pest of yourself -- especially as their deadlines approach -- you could quickly become the phone call or email that no one wants to receive.

    3. Don't contact the editorial staff and say, "Look, with all the money I spend on ads at your paper, you should be writing a story about my business." Any publication worth its salt will keep the editorial and advertising functions TOTALLY separate. News is news. You don't pay to be in the news.

    4. When you're being interviewed, don't give the kinds of quotes that are pure PR. It wastes the reporter's time when you guard what you're saying so much that you don't provide important, interesting information about your business.

    If you seek media attention, be ready to provide some facts and figures about your industry and about your business specifically. You owe the media (and its readers/viewers) that much -- after all, you started this wheel in motion when you sent out the release.

    Examples: I interview someone who tells me their business is the "Number 1" business of its type in the state. The first thing that pops into my mind is: "Says who?"

    Can I use this claim of being "Number 1" in print?


    Why not?

    Because it doesn't tell me diddly squat.

    No. 1 in what?

    No. 1 in retail, wholesale? Prove it.

    No. 1 based on what? Did some type of third party or trade association rank them all, or is this just the opinion of the owner?

    Everybody thinks their business is Number 1. You prove it and then I'll think about using it.

    How about if they tell me their business is the "biggest" of its type in the area?

    Biggest in square footage? Warehouse space? Number of employees?

    Be ready to provide some actual facts.

    5. When sending to local media, don't use PR Web or a similar service. (This is just my opinion, of course, and others here at WF may not feel the same way.)

    Why not?

    You live in the area served by this media outlet. You probably read the publication, watch it on TV, or listen to it on the radio. You "know" this media outlet.

    Take the time to find out who to send it to.

    I've grabbed so many press releases off of the fax and delivered them directly to the recycling bin because they simply had nothing of interest to our readers.

    A dead giveaway is when the sender's business provides a product or service in its local area, but that's several states away. Sure, it might be interesting. But does it have anything to do with YOUR local area?

    You don't NEED to use a service to send out your press releases.

    These days, it's so easy to find the publication's web site and figure out who should receive your press release. Doesn't cost a thing.

    Well, those were a few DON'Ts. Here are a few DOs:

    1. Do find out who to send your press release to and do get their name correct. You would be amazed at how many people send press releases off addressed to "Dear sir" in this day and age, as if women aren't allowed in the workplace.

    Also, it's only common courtesy to spell the person's name right and to spell the name of the publication correctly. Do you really want the first impression that they have of you and your business to be negative?

    2. Do take the time to proofread your press release. If you have trouble with basics, get some help:


    its, it's
    your, you're
    to, too, two
    than, then
    there, their, they're
    accept, except
    use to, used to
    suppose to, supposed to
    prolly instead of probably
    supposably instead of supposedly
    was, were
    saying "reply back" or "respond back" when just "reply" or "respond" will do

    You might be thinking, "I don't care about that stuff. If I get it wrong, they can fix it."

    That's true to an extent.

    But a lot of small-town publications often don't have the staff to devote to all of their stories, so you may very likely see your press release run here and there just as you submitted it.

    Also, the less they have to do to your work, the better. I've been told by several reporters that they rarely change my press releases because I know how to use the preferred style used by most newspapers (Assicated Press style). They don't have to correct my grammar or spelling. They don't have to take out grand claims that can't be backed up with fact.

    3. Do write your press release from the viewpoint of the reader. Why would the reader want to know what you're sharing? Is there some type of news hook? Or are you just writing it to get attention? Usually it shows if you're just writing to get attention, and those are the press releases that get tossed. What's interesting about your business? Has something happened in the news that suddenly makes your product or service popular? Has your business just won an award or received recognition from an association? Have you just hired someone? Promoted someone?

    4. Do send photos if you have them. But don't send the old "grin 'n grip" photo. You've seen them before, usually in small town papers. Mr. A is handing Ms. B a giant check, they are shaking hands and looking at the camera. Don't do it. These are corny and the editorial staff will laugh at you. Sending a mug shot of yourself is the best bet. Send a photo as an attachment (not as part of a Word document), stored at 300 dpi or better, saved as a jpg file.

    5. Do take the time to find out about the publication's reprint policy and copyright policy. In most cases, if you make a copy of the article and post it on your web site or make copies to pass out, you're violating their copyright. Yes, the story is about you and you provided information for it, but that doesn't mean you own it. THEY OWN IT. They own the story. It's their product and you need to respect that. Just because they spoke with you, is it OK for them to waltz in and grab part of your inventory for their own use? Nope. Same thing.

    6. Do take advantage of opportunities to send a press release. Some great opportunities include: opening a brand new business, new hires, promotions, winning an award, an employee getting trained or certified in something of benefit to the company, the company or employees being recognized at a convention, company officials attending a convention or trade show or presenting, brand new invention or service or product, reaching an anniversary, moving to a new location, opening an additional location, helping a charity or nonprofit, redesigning/relaunching a web site, partnering with another company (JV, etc.), launching an ezine, writing a book or ebook, conducting a teleseminar or webinar...

    There are SO MANY great reasons to send out a press release without turning to the old sales pitch. You could easily send out a press release once each quarter, or even once a month.
    • Profile picture of the author ibringjoy
      Thank you, Shay and Jillian!

      This is some wonderful, detailed information which we can all use to help grow our businesses. I've been trying to think of ways to get some free publicity, and these guidelines will surely come in handy.

  • Profile picture of the author Jillian Slack
    The AP stylebook is available in most bookstores, at, etc.

    In the USA, most newspapers follow AP (Associated Press) style, and most book publishers follow Chicago Manual of Style.

    It's kind of like the way some of your teachers/professors wanted you to follow APA (American Psychological Association) style, while others wanted you to follow MLA (Modern Language Association of America) style.

    Different rules. Life gets really confusing for those of us who flip back and forth, with writing that requires us to bounce from AP to Chicago.

    ANOTHER TIDBIT about what might happen after you submit your press release...

    You won't always get a feature story out the deal, focusing 100% on you or your business.


    Embrace the opportunity anyway.

    Let's say I sent out a great press release about my business and then a reporter calls me. "This is ___. I'm a reporter with ____, and I'm working on a story about the challenges local women have faced when transitioning from being an employee to starting a business from home. Do you have a minute? I'd love to ask you a few questions."

    At first, I might think, "Wait a minute. I was hoping I'd get a big, full-page story out of this, totally about me."

    Sure, it would be fabulous to have a story that's all about you and no one else.

    But this is great, too!

    Chances are, there will be two or three other women entrepreneurs quoted in the story, along with one or two experts or gurus.

    People are still going to see your name and the name of your business. That's a good thing.

    Other reporters at other publications will read this story (because they stay up-to-date on who is writing what not only in their local area, but national and/or industry-related publications also find these), increasing your chances of being called by someone else for another story.

    So take advantage of even the smallest mention in the news.

    Then be sure to add to your web site, "As seen in" and then the logo of that publication, TV station or radio show.

    And blog about it! Let people know you were just in the news. Use Snag-It or some other pgoram to get screen captures.
    • Profile picture of the author ShayRockhold
      Jillian, thanks for posting on here! Love your post!

      I agree - a press release can't be all "me me me" - there has to be a story for them to be interested.

      One thing I forgot in my original post: BE PREPARED!!!

      My first spot on a local news channel was a grand total of 3 minutes - and it generated over 150 calls! I was TOTALLY unprepared for that kind of response and did not make nearly as much money as I could have because I simply could not handle that kind of volume!

      For the second spot (different city and tv station), I was better prepared. I enlisted the help of a few friends to help handle the calls. I also had a website to give out and that helped with the volume - but we still had over 75 calls from a 2 minute spot. (My friends also steered people to my website for more info, also cutting down on the work involved.)

      For the third spot, I just gave out my website on the air, but had the number at the front desk of the news station in case people called (which they did).

      It is a learning experience, to be sure.
  • Profile picture of the author Jillian Slack

    The article about your daughters is fantastic! If anyone missed it, here's her link: Hebron Teen Builds Her Own Business --

    And what a cool business.

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