[377] How to write super engaging copy about your business

Ever wondered how some people just seem to nail it on social media or their Facebook ad just speaks to you? Want to know how to write super engaging copy for your website or social media?

In my latest podcast, I speak to copywriter Jo Watson who describes herself as an editor and 'writer of stuff'. She explains how to show your personality in your writing (and why you need to). PLUS why you need to make people really feel something when you write. Even if they disagree with you.

Jo is well-known on LinkedIn for her slightly sweary 'tell it like it is' approach and her personality is well-reflected in her writing. She has a truly distinctive writing voice and explains how to create personality in your writing and how if you produce great content then people won't forget about you (even if you go on holiday for a month).

Jo also explains how you can show your authority - even if you don't feel confident enough to actually post on social media. She doesn't have a social media strategy - and believes very much in showing up and being present, being yourself and writing as if you were talking to a friend at the pub.

Jo also talks about how to go about hiring a copywriter that really is a copywriter (and not just a VA who says they'll 'have a go') and why it's really important to look at the return on investment that it will bring to your business.

I'd love to know what you think. I hope you enjoy the episode.

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode}


Podcast shownotes

  • About Jo and why she defines herself as a ‘writer of stuff’ (4:06)
  • How Jo went from  being a teacher to a copywriter and built her business (5:05)
  • How Jo develops personality in her writing and why she doesn't think you need a social media strategy (14:15)
  • How Jo got started on LinkedIn and how ‘saying it like it is’ helps build relationships and engagement (16:23)
  • Why you need to be present on social media and only post if you have something to say (19:03)
  • How to stay on people’s radars by posting great content so they won’t forget you (23:15)
  • How to show up and write well and why everyone can tell stories (25:47)
  • How to build your confidence and show your values on social media (26:56)
  • Why you’ll lose trust and authority if you write or say things that are 'off brand' (30:47)
  • How to get more personality into your writing and how everything is a content opportunity (37:01)
  • Why you need to think about what people are interested in and make people feel something when you write (42:50)
  • Why you shouldn’t limit your marketing to one ideal client type (50:03)
  • How to get personality into your writing and why you should keep it simple, relatable and in your own voice (54:54)
  • How to hire a copywriter for your business and why you should look at the return on investment (58:03 )


Connect with Jo on LinkedIn
Jo's website 

[275] How to write awesome sales copy - fast with Sarah Cooke (podcast)
[335] How to create a high converting lead magnet (podcast)
[348] How to write social media posts that sell (podcast0
[372] How to build an engaged online audience (podcast)
[375] How to get your first 1k email subscribers (podcast)


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How to write social media posts that sell (online masterclass) 

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[373] How to get more followers on any social media platform

Want to sell more of your products or services online? Getting more of your ideal customers/clients to follow you on social media can help - a lot. 

But how do you increase your social media followers? Do you need to use different strategies for different social media platforms e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram? And how long does it take to grow your following on a particular platform? 

That’s exactly what I cover in this podcast episode. 

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode.}

1.Share compelling content 

Think about the people you follow on social media. The people whose posts always seem to pop up in your Facebook or Instagram feed. The accounts you actively check out to see what they've been posting lately. 

You don’t follow them because they post boring updates about their products/services. You follow them because they inspire, entertain or even challenge your thinking. In other words, they make you FEEL something. 

Now think about your own account. Are you posting compelling content that makes people feel something? Or are you putting out posts so you can tick social media off your to-do list. If you’re posting dull updates about your products/services, whimsical reflections about what you did at the weekend and/or 'must do' tips no one ever comments on, why would anyone want to follow you? 

If you’re not getting much engagement on your content - amongst the followers you already have - that’s a sign you need to change something. 

After all, if you can’t get the people who already know, like and trust you to comment on your content, why would anyone new want to follow you? 

For an example of someone who is publishing excellent social media content that inspires people to follow her, check out copywriter Jo Watson on LinkedIn.

Want to get more engagement on your social media posts? Check out my social media engagement playbook.

2. Don’t follow the rules 

If you’re trying to build your following on a particular platform, don’t feel like you have to do what everyone else is doing. In fact, sharing content that challenges the ‘norm’ can be a great way to stand out. 

For example, Baggage Reclaim founder Natalie Lue’s following on Instagram only really took off when she stopped worrying about ‘posting pretty pictures’ and starting posting hard-hitting quotes from her blog and podcast. As Instagram is a visual platform, this was a brave move on Natalie’s part - but doing the opposite of what everyone else was doing - and doing it consistently - is what helped her reach her first 10k followers.

3. Spend more time on other peoples’ accounts than on your own

What’s the first thing you do when someone new comments on one of your posts - a name you don’t recognise? You go and check out their profile of course. And that’s exactly what other people do when you comment on their content. They just can’t help but check you out. 

This is why something as simple as making a list of your ideal customers/clients and committing to spending half an hour a day commenting on their content can be so effective. 

Alternatively (or additionally) you can use the Gary Vee $1.80 strategy. 

  • Step one. Find the 10 most relevant hashtags in your niche and follow those hashtags
  • Step two. Reach out and comment on the top nine posts in each of the 10 hashtags
  • Step three. Continue to like and comment on posts each day

The $1.80 strategy gets its name because you’re giving your two cents on nine posts for 10 hashtags every day. If you add that up, it equals $1.80 per day.

4. Use hashtags on all your posts

As Chris Taylor explains in how to grow your Instagram following to 27k - fast, hashtags are like the index in the back of a non-fiction book. People search hashtags to find content on the most relevant topics to them - just like they would if they were looking something up in a non-fiction book.

While expert opinion varies, current advice commonly suggests that using up to 30 hashtags on Instagram (which is the maximum), three on LinkedIn, two on Facebook and two on Twitter is the optimum number. 

You could even create your own hashtag and awareness day like dog photographer Kerry Jordan did. This helped her go viral on Twitter.

5. Cross-promotion 

Running joint competitions can be a great way to get more followers. For example, dog photographer Kerry Jordan hosted a joint competition with Quirky Campers founder Lyndsey Berresford and added 1.5.k new email subscribers, along with tons of new social media followers, to her audience. 

6. Collaboration 

Creating content for or collaborating with other business owners e.g. guest blogging, podcast interviews, Facebook Lives, Instagram takeoevers can be a great way of getting in front of other peoples’ audiences. This will help you grow your social media following.

Be smart about who you collaborate with though. It’s best to target people with a similar or slightly larger audience than your own - ideally those who have a similar audience to you, but serve them in a different way. That way, there won’t be a conflict of interest.

If you do want to target the big hitters in your niche, think carefully about how you can add value to them. If they’ve already built a large online audience, they probably don’t need to get in front of your audience, so why would they want to collaborate with you? So before you ask, think carefully about what’s in it for them. If your ‘pitch’ is all about you - and what you hope to gain from the collaboration - they’re far less likely to say ‘yes.

7.Secure press coverage

Getting press coverage can be a great way to increase your online following. For example, Baggage Reclaim founder Natalie Lue gained 2k followers after she was featured in Cosmopolitan magazine recently.

However, stories like this tend to be the exception rather than the rule. While it’s rare to get thousands of followers from a single magazine article or radio/TV appearance, over time, regular press coverage will help you grow your following.

Find out: how to get press coverage for your business. 

8.Work with bloggers/influencers

Asking bloggers/influencers to promote your products/services can be a great way to grow your following. Ideally they need to have a larger audience than your own. But they don't need to have a massive audience for this to be effective. This can either be done on a paid basis or in exchange for free products/services.

Find out more about working with bloggers/influencers.

9. Speak at live events

Every time you stand up and speak in a room of your ideal customers/clients, you will attract new social media followers. So if you don't mind public speaking, why not give it a go?

Find out how to land more speaking opportunities.

10. Post the links to your social media channels everywhere

The more places you post the link to your social media profiles, the easier it will be for people to follow you. So make sure they’re on your email signature, website, any landing pages you create...and basically anywhere you show up online.

Podcast shownotes

  • Why you need to post engaging content that makes people feel something (2:48)
  • How to get followers by posting memorable, inspiring content (7:08)
  • Why your social media bio needs to be compelling and understandable (10:44)
  • Why you should break the ‘rules’ of the platform and post your own original content  (11:35)
  • Why you should spend time on other peoples’ social media accounts (19:59)
  • Hashtag strategies you can use to increase engagement and followers (25:05)
  • How to grow your followers by collaborating with other social media accounts (28:50)
  • How to use press coverage to get more followers (but it needs to be consistent coverage) (33:30)
  • How to work with influencers that have a bigger audience to reach new followers (37:34)
  • How speaking opportunities can help grow your social media following (40:11)
  • Where to put your social media platform links so that people can find you (40:29)
  • Why follower numbers are a vanity metric and sales and engagement are more important (40:54)
  • Why you need to build an engaged audience before using Facebook ads  (44:08)


John Espiran LinkedIn
Jo Watson LinkedIn

Natalie Lue Instagram
Simon Bourne LinkedIn
Cath Janes Facebook
Kate Lister LinkedIn
Neon Marl
Journo request

Five easy ways to get press coverage (blog)

[161] How to work with bloggers and influencers with Kat Molesworth (podcast)
[309] How to go viral on Twitter with Kerry Jordan  (podcast)
[329] What’s working on Facebook right now with Liz Melville (podcast)
[348] How to write social media posts that sell (podcast)
[358] 13 ideas for engaging social media posts (podcast)
[362] How to grow your Instagram to 27K- fast (podcast)
[363] Five ways to bust through an audience growth plateau (podcast)
[369] Why opinionated content works well for your Facebook page (and how to do it well) (podcast)
[370] How sharing personal experiences can boost engagement on your Facebook page (podcast)
[372] How to build an engaged online audience (podcast)

Preorder your 2020 Media Diary here

Buy my book Your press release is breaking my heart

Build Your Audience Programme

Buy your ticket for Build Your Audience Live*


Social Media Video Engagement Playbook

Social Media Engagement Playbook

LinkedIn Content Strategy Playbook

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[360] How to get people to open your emails

If you want to get people to open your marketing emails, you need to write compelling email subject headers.

But what makes a great email subject header? Which words and phrases make people more likely to open your emails? And which ones should you avoid?

That's exactly what I cover in this podcast episode on how to get people to open your emails. It’s packed with tips, tricks and examples you can use to improve your email open rate.

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode}

Before you get started, here’s a bit of tough love for you. I wish I could give you one strategy or one blueprint you could follow to get people to open your emails. But as every audience is different, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

What I can do is share the strategies that work really well for me, for my clients, and for others in the industry. But if you want to improve your email open rates, you're going to have to be brave, you're going to have to be courageous, and you're going to have to go and test things out and see what works for you.

1. Make a list of what keeps your ideal client (or newsletter reader) up at night

The first thing you need to understand is that people don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons. So if you want to write effective email subject headers, you need to understand your prospective clients' emotions. That’s why I recommend starting by making a list of your ideal clients’ problems and their worries. For example, my prospective clients often tell me they’re worried their clients are going to dry up, that they struggle to stick to a consistent content publishing/schedule and that they feel overwhelmed by all the marketing options out there. The more I can understand that, the better placed I’ll be to write great email subject headers that will get them to open my emails.

2. Don’t be vanilla

Most of us have overflowing inboxes. We only open things that pique our interest.

So if you want to increase your email open rate - and increase your sales - you've got to be courageous. That means no playing it safe with boring and/or ‘vanilla’ email subject headers.

3. Go through your own inbox and look at what gets your attention (I save mine)

One of the best ways to get ideas for your own email subject headers is to go through your inbox and see which ones caught your attention. Analyse why they caught your attention and what you could use/adapt for your own email subject headers. Save them in a folder and look through them when you need inspiration.

4. Ask Questions

If you want to get people interested in opening your emails you need to arouse peoples’ curiosity. It can be helpful to think of your subject headers a like a ‘teaser’ for email content.

Asking questions often works well. For example: ‘can you answer this question honestly?’ or ‘what kind of results can you expect from working with me?’

This invites the reader to get into a conversation with you, which is what great email marketing is all about.

5. Surprise your subscribers

Introducing an element of surprise works well too. For example: ‘please stop listening to my podcast’,  ‘I was wrong about this’ or ‘Facebook hates you. Here’s why.’

Why would I ask people to stop listening to my podcast? What was I wrong about? Why does Facebook hate you?

These statements arouse curiosity and intrigue, which means people are far more likely to open the email.

6. Use genuine scarcity

If you have a genuinely time-sensitive offer, don’t be afraid to use that in your email subject header e.g. “Last chance’ or ‘enrolments close at midnight.’

Although do keep a close eye on spam trigger words i.e. those that are most likely to mean your email ends up in spam. For example words like ‘discount’ ‘bonus’ or ‘buy’. But don’t get caught up on lists like this - track and measure what’s happening in your own email list.

7. Showing vulnerability is also effective

If you send out an email with a missing link, don’t try to cover it up - email your list,  apologise for your mistake and turn it into a content opportunity.

One of my best performing email subject headers is ‘Oops! Of course we know your name really’. This was sent after we accidentally emailed my whole list with their location in the field where their name should have been. Showing that you're human makes you seem more relatable, which can be a great way to build a relationship with your subscribers.

7. Use emojis

There is tons of research to show that emojis can increase your email open rates so experiment and see what works for you. Fun fact: we get a much better open rate when we use the 💩 emoji but more unsubscribes. Experimenting with this type of thing is what makes email marketing so much fun (in my opinion).

8. Experiment with fonts and layout

Try to experiment in other ways too. For example, using all lower- case letters. This can make your email seem more informal as if it’s coming from a friend. Or using brackets or a mixture of caps and lower-case letters (although do be careful, as capital letters can come across a bit ‘shouty’.).

9. Check how your email subject header looks on mobile

Test out how your email subject looks on mobile. Can you see the whole header? Or is some of it missing (in which case, try going for a shorter headline). Some of these seemingly small things can have a big impact on whether your email is opened.

10. Don’t take it personally if people unsubscribe

If you are sending emails as part of your email marketing strategy, you will get unsubscribes. This can be upsetting, but it doesn’t mean you are doing anything ‘wrong’. Track your numbers, but please feel reassured that the odd unsubscribe is fine. You only need to worry if you notice a big increase.

Podcast shownotes

  • About this podcast (12:24)
  • Why you need to understand your readers' problems rather than their habits (13:50)
  • Why your email subjects need to be brave and courageous not boring and safe (16:07)
  • How to research emails that grab your attention (and examples of good subject headers) (16:48)
  • Why making your email subject header intriguing will increase open rates (20:18)
  • Examples of my best email subject headers with tips on how you can use them (20:32)
  • How changing sentence structures can trigger emotional reactions (29:40)
  • How showing vulnerability can really get your audience on side (34:38)
  • Why you should create email content out of mistakes you make in your business (and hear a few of mine including that gift email!) (38:22)
  • Why great email marketing is about starting a two-way conversation (44:51)
  • Why unsubscribes are not the end of the world and can actually save you money (47:06)
  • Why you shouldn’t feel bad if someone complains about your emails (49:06)
  • Things to consider about the layout of your subject headers and using emojis (52:16)
  • Why you need to test and experiment with your subject headers (54:47)


Spam trigger words to avoid

[359] How to create an email newsletter people look forward to receiving (podcast)
[300] How to Build an audience and why you need to  (podcast)
[318] How to write compelling email copy (podcast)
[325] Three social media posts that will help you generate sales (podcast)
[333] 39 surprisingly easy ways to increase your email subscribers list (podcast)
[335] How to create a high converting lead magnet (podcast)
[348] How to write social media posts that sell (podcast)
[358] 13 Ideas for engaging social media posts (for when you’re all out of ideas) (podcast)

Buy your ticket to my 2020 Content Planning Masterclass #2020Sorted

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Five things you should do after a conference or workshop

Attending conferences or workshops can be exhausting. If you’re anything like me, when you get back home - or back to your hotel - the only thing you’ll feel like doing is putting your feet up, ordering in pizza and watching Netflix.

But when it comes to building relationships, the first few hours and days after a conference or workshops are the most important. Leave it too late to follow up on the connections you’ve made, and you could find you’ve missed the moment.

With that in mind, here’s five things you should do immediately after a conference or workshop.

1.Join in the socials

As my friend Andrew Pickering (one half of the content marketing duo Andrew and Pete) puts it, the best conversations often happen at the bar – after the event. So don’t rush off at the end unless you absolutely have to. Most event organisers now include evening socials (you can find out about the socials at Content Live in our Facebook community) so resist the lure of Netflix and get out there and socialise.

Hanging out with Andrew and Pete at Social Day

2.Follow up on social media

After a day of tweeting, tagging and re-sharing, you may feel like giving social media a miss for a while, but immediately after the event is the best time to follow up with people you’d like to stay in touch with.

Recording a short video/audio message and sending it over via Twitter or Facebook messenger can be a quick way to do this.

If you’re not attending the socials, posting about your journey home and any other reflections on the day will keep you top of mind.

Putting aside some time to go through the social media content that has been created during the day, tagging other guests and speakers into photographs and sharing other useful content will make you more memorable.

If you really want to be remembered, you could create a memento of the day using Storify (which allows you to collect social media updates, pictures, video and audio clips to create a ‘story’ of the day) or make an Adobe spark video.

Don’t forget to use the event hashtag (for the uninitiated, hashtags group together content on the same topic) even after the event has finished. 

Here’s some more ideas on how to use social media to stand out at a live event.  

3.Reflect on your learning

The best time to go through your notes is immediately after the event, when it’s all still fresh in your mind - ideally on your journey home or in your hotel room. Having all of your notes in one place will help you gather your ideas and give you an ongoing reference to go back to when you starting putting what you’ve learned into action. If you work in a team, this will also make it easier for you to feed back what you’ve learned to colleagues.  

We’ve created a smart-looking workbook for  Content Live 2018 to help you keep all your notes in one place.

4.Create a follow-up blog/vlog

Creating a follow-up blog/vlog of the event not only helps you process your learning, it can also help you attract traffic to your website, win new customers/clients and offer value to existing ones.

For more information, read: five reasons to blog about attending a live event.

Like the idea of blogging about your experience, but not sure how to get started? Read: how to write a blog post about an event you’ve attended.

Here's a round up of content guests at Media Influence Live created:

How to win at live events by Catherine France

Why there is an 'I' in invest by Sheila Mulvenney

Why you shouldn't attend any live events this year or ever by Janine Coombes

My Media Influence Live event goals by Lynn Hill

9 tips to choose the perfect handbag for networking and business events by Jennifer Hamley

Why I'm not attending a book-keeping conference by Zoe Whitman

Should I stop networking to save money? by Zoe Whitman

Why should you attend conferences? by Rachel Miller

Do you invest in yourself? by Louise Roberts

5 good reasons to attend a live event by Sheila Mulvenney

How do you invest in a personal development strategy by Nadine Powrie

If writing’s not your thing, you can created a video, like podcasting expert Colin Gray did for his review of CMA Live 2017: 

5.Book your ticket for the next event

Most event organisers offer generous earlybird discounts to guests who book tickets for their next event on the day - or shortly afterwards. So if you enjoyed the event, book your ticket for the next one as soon as you can. 

Tickets are on sale for our next live event, Content Live 2018, and you can currently get the Super Early Bird price.  If you attended my most recent event or are a member of my membership community, you'll also have an "alumni discount code" which gives you the best possible ticket price.  You can get your ticket here.

You can connect with me on Twitter here and on Instagram here.


How to benefit from a conference (even if you can't attend in person)

If there’s an event or conference you’d love to go to, but can’t attend, it’s tempting to hide yourself away while it’s on, so you don’t get hit by FOMO (fear of missing out). But you can still get huge value from a live event - even if you can’t be there in person.

With that in mind, here’s five tips on getting the most from a live event - even if you can’t attend in person.

1.Check out the preview content

Many event organisers - and their guests - will create preview content, ahead of the event. This will give you a better insight into the content (including relevant Twitter lists, hashtags and social media accounts to follow). You might also pick up some tips on attending future events.

Commenting on and re-sharing preview content using the event hashtag (see below) can be a great way to connect with guests and speakers ahead of the event (you might even pick up some new social media followers).

Here's some of the preview content created for Content Live:

How to prepare for networking when it’s out of your comfort zone by Sally Dhillon

What are my objectives for attending Content Live 2018 by Jennifer MacDonald-Nethercott

Why I'm taking my values to London by Becky Kilsby

2.Follow and use the event hashtag on Twitter

Most live events have a dedicated hashtag – which groups together content on the same topic – that is promoted well in advance. Don’t wait until the day of the event; jump in early and start using it now, so you can start connecting with guests and speakers.

To make this easier, most event organisers create a  Twitter list of event guests and speakers. Don’t be afraid to pose your own questions for the speakers, using the event hashtag

The Content Live 2018 Twitter list is here and the event hashtag is #2019Sorted.

3.Engage with speakers & guests on social media

Many of the guests and speakers will be ‘live tweeting’ from the event and posting updates about the event on their social media profiles, which means you can learn loads, even if you’re not attending in person.

And don’t forget that commenting on and sharing social media updates allows you to network with guests and speakers - without even buying a ticket. While it’s no substitute for attending live, it’s still a great opportunity to build relationships with your kind of people - from the comfort of your office or even your sofa.

Many of these tips on how to stand out on social media when attending a live event apply even if you’re not attending in person.

You can also search Live streaming apps like Facebook Live and Instagram Stories to see if anyone is broadcasting live.

The event hashtag for Content Live is #2019Sorted.

4.Share your own content

If you spot updates that relate to your area of expertise, don’t be afraid to share relevant content e.g. blogs, vlogs and podcast episodes using the event hashtag. This can be a great way to attract new followers and build social media engagement on your own account.

In fact you can even turn your non-attendance into content that will make you memorable with guests and speakers.

If you’re worried about what to post, here are some ideas:

  • Questions for the speakers (if you really want to get noticed, you can add giphys or use an app like Ripl to turn your soundbites into short animated videos and image quotes). You can also create your own quotes or memes based on the event content.
  • Selfies of you NOT attending the event in your home office, co-working space or sitting room, for example
  • Pictures/video clips of you NOT attending the conference (see above)

5.Check out the follow-up content

Many event hosts, guests and speakers will create follow-up blogs/vlogs about attending the conference, so look out for these (many event organisers will curate them on social media using the event hashtag and curate them into a single blog/post). These often provide a summary of each session, including key learning points, like this review of Media Influence Live

If you’re attending another event soon, you might like this post on how to blog about an event you’ve attended.

If you’d like to follow along with Content Live on November 15 & 16, here’s a link to the programme, so you know what’s happening when.

You can also follow along on Twitter @jan_murray, Instagram and on our Facebook page.

How to find out if your story idea will interest national journalists

Getting featured in national publications and programmes can be a powerful way to promote your business.

But I see so many business owners wasting time pitching stories to national journalists that are far more suited to local or industry titles.

So how can you tell whether your story idea has national potential? And if it doesn’t, is there anything you can do to get national journalists interested in featuring your business?  Read on and find out…

New values

If you want to understand what kind of stories journalists are interested in, you need to understand news values. These are the factors that help journalists decide what stories get covered and how much prominence they are given in their publication or programme. News values will differ from publication to publication (or programme to programme) and between different types of media i.e. local, industry and national.

Depending on which expert you read on the subject, there are up to 20 different news values, but to keep things simple, I’m going to focus on three.


Wondering if you’re story has national potential? Imagine a map of your local area with a red line around its boundaries (even better, print one out and draw it on). Would people outside that red line care about your story? Would it be relevant to their lives?

Let’s say you run a fitness business, for example. You’ve recently launched hula hooping exercise classes in four different venues in your local area. Clearly this is not going to be relevant to someone who lives at the other end of the country, so this is a local story.

Maybe you run a financial planning business and have recently won a prestigious industry award. While this is a great achievement, is someone from outside your area (or the sector you work in) really going to be interested in reading about someone they’ve never heard of winning an award they’ve never heard of? Probably not. While this might make a nice ‘local person done good’ item in a regional title, it’s probably not going to be of interest to the nationals.

Or perhaps you run a local business networking group and you’re celebrating your fifth birthday. You’ve grown from 50 to 500 members and now have branches in 15 different locations in your county. While this is impressive, why would anyone outside of the area care?  It might be an interesting case study for people who’d like to start their own networking group - but in a publication aimed at business owners, not in a national.

Imagine a map of your local area with a red line around its boundaries. Would people outside that red line care about your story?
Imagine a map of your local area with a red line around its boundaries. Would people outside that red line care about your story?


I speak to so many authors who think publishing a book is enough to make national news. But with more people publishing books than ever, it really isn’t such a big deal (and I say that as an author myself).

But what if your self-published book has made you a millionaire? That’s exactly what happened to thriller writer Adam Croft, which is why his latest book Her Last Tomorrow was featured in the Guardian. Adam’s story is both unusual and unexpected, which is why it made national news.

Jen Lindsey-Clark’s work made national news when she created a chocolate 'Cumberbunny' featuring the actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s face - and sent it to his mum for Easter. The chocolatier from Brighton, who has also made a life-size version of the British actor, got national coverage because her work was unusual.

And you can’t get much more unusual than a restaurant where customers dine in the nude, which is why the first naked restaurant couldn’t fail to attract the interest of national journalists.

It’s worth pointing out here that local publications and programmes also look for the unexpected - particularly something that’s unusual for the local area e.g. the first ‘pay what you want’ restaurant or  ‘men only’ beauty bar in a particular town, for example. But to make the nationals, it usually needs to be exceptionally surprising or a real ‘first’.

Chocolatier Jen Lindsey-Clark made national headlines when she made a life-sized version of the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch
Chocolatier Jen Lindsey-Clark made national headlines when she made a life-sized version of the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch


It sounds obvious, but to make national news, your story has to be something people will actually care about (beyond those in your local area that is). And stories people care about are often divisive.

Online gym owner Julia Buckley got national coverage when she decided to start taking a £50 deposit from new clients, which would only be refunded if they lost weight and/or inches. Her theory that the fear of losing money gives people an added incentive to stick to a healthy diet and exercise plan is one not everyone will agree with. 

The Keery brothers’ cereal cafe got a lot of national attention when it opened in the East End of London -and not just because it was an unusual concept. Selling bowls of cereal for £3.50 in a deprived area of the city also attracted criticism, along with protests and vandalism, which meant it attracted plenty of national media coverage.

And cafe owner Lawrence Lavender has been all over the national press in his native Canada for selling a Trump sandwich’,  inspired by the US presidential election candidate Donald Trump and advertised as being ‘full of baloney’ . The story has divided the public, offending Trump fans and delighting his critics.

This is not to say you should intentionally set out to be outrageous or provocative in order to get national media coverage (and I don't think any of the business owners I mention above did either). But if you’re wondering why journalists aren’t interested in giving column inches or airtime to your new jewellery range, event planning service or exercise classes, this is what you're up against. 

And do remember that ‘news’ is just one type of media coverage. If you’re looking to get featured in the national media, there are plenty of other ways to go about it (that can be more beneficial for your business). For example:

1.Thought leadership: offering your expertise on ‘hot’ news stories - both by supplying comments to journalists (both in print and on air) and writing opinion articles for newspapers and magazines. Writing articles for the Huffington Post on Danish life has helped Copenhagen based relocation consultant Melanie Haynes attract clients and further national coverage.

2.Teaching: there is a growing appetite in the national media for ‘how to’ content where you share knowledge and/or help people learn a skill. I’ve written a whole series of articles for the Guardian on how to get media coverage and this article on how to write a press release has sent a lot of business my way.

3. Storytelling: sharing personal stories about the parts of your life that intersect with your business can be a powerful way to promote what you do. This article on how being an expat inspired her to start a business has won Melanie Haynes eight new clients.

And one last tip for you...don't be fooled by celebrities! Many business owners assume that getting a celebrity involved in a press launch will automatically guarantee them national coverage. Remember that celebrities do this kind of thing all the time, so unless they are going to be doing or saying something interesting (think Angelina Jolie's human rights activism!) their mere presence at your launch event is unlikely to interest the national press.