Public relations (also referred to as media relations) is one of the most effective tools in a small business’s marketing arsenal. Media relations provides small business owners with the opportunity to establish themselves as experts in their fields. When potential customers or clients read an article, they recognize that the person quoted in the article is an expert. Media relations also provides a third-party endorsement. The only more effective marketing method for small business is referral from existing customers.
Along with providing credibility, media relations increases an organization’s visibility. When customers are looking for a product or service, they will choose a name they recognize. If they have read a business’s name in a local newspaper or magazine, they are more likely to choose that business or remember that organization when needed.
MEDIA RELATIONS TACTICS
While media relations is an extremely appropriate and effective method for marketing a business, time and effort are required to do it well. If it isn’t done effectively, along with wasting a lot of time or money, poor media relations can actually alienate a reporter or editor rather than nurturing that relationship. There are certain tactics that work very well for small businesses.
A press release is an extremely effective way to reach out to the media. A press release is an announcement of interesting or important news. If a business has news, a press release can be a successful way to disseminate that news. The organization just needs to be judicious in its use of the press release. Using press releases too frequently will cause reporters to ignore anything that comes from that business (often without even reading it). Press releases should be reserved exclusively for big news. News that is worthy of a press release includes new hires, new capabilities or new locations.
A press kit is an extremely effective method for spreading information about an organization. This material can be beneficial for establishing expertise and credibility. Press kits usually include a backgrounder on the organization, background information on specialized products or services and bios of the key personnel who will act as sources for the media.
An unusual or fascinating customer case is a wonderful way to get exposure through the media. A case study discusses a specific client’s situation and the solution that solved the problem. This information can be written up and provided to the media. As with testimonials, case studies need to be cleared with the customer before any work is done as well as once the study is completed.
Individual pitches are the most effective and most time consuming method of media relations. This involves identifying individual media outlets, researching those outlets and then sending them information specifically developed for them. This is effective because the pitch is crafted to appeal to a specific audience. It incorporates information about the target, the individual reporter or editor and the business doing the pitches. Effective pitches can include interesting news, case studies or unique information about the organization.
KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL MEDIA RELATIONS
Since media relations involves a lot of effort and time, a business needs to be effective with its resources. Following are a few tips that can help organizations succeed in their efforts.
Like most professionals, reporters and editors are very busy. Anything a business can do to make their job easier will be appreciated. Be available. If a reporter calls the organization, someone should get back to him as quickly as possible. Try to be as flexible as possible when arranging interviews. Don’t send out a pitch or press release when the key source is going to be out of the office.
Research is very important when pitching the media. Research the outlets before contacting to determine if the story is a good fit. For example, a sporting publication won’t be interested in a medical story unless it has a sporting angle.
Many businesses tend to use a lot of industry-specific terms that the general public doesn’t understand. Just like these terms can confuse customers, they will confuse the media. Avoiding jargon and using language a general reporter is likely to understand will go a long way towards communicating a story.
Because of its ability to establish expertise and imply endorsement, media relations is an exceptionally effective marketing method for small businesses. When media relations is done well, it is an extremely successful tactic for spreading the word about an organization’s expertise.