There’s no way of putting this nicely:
Journalists aren’t interested in your business.
It’s nothing personal.
It’s just that it isn’t their responsibility to help you promote your product, service or brand.
Their job is creating content that's a perfect fit for their audience.
So anything that looks like advertising (unless it’s paid for and clearly labelled as such) is unethical. In fact, it could land them in trouble.
This is not to say you can’t get media coverage for your business - you absolutely can.
But you have to accept that content comes first.
So instead of trying to get journalists to write about your business (or cover it on TV/radio) you need to pitch story ideas that allow you to show what it’s about.
Take my recent Guardian article on why women need to stop working for free.
While I only briefly mention what I do in this article, it’s proved to be great PR for my business for three reasons:
- It's been widely shared on social media (including retweets from a number of influential writers, bloggers and podcasters). Several people - all potential clients - have taken the trouble to email me to say how much my article resonated with them
- Following its publication, I’ve seen a significant increase in my social media followers
- I’ve also seen a big spike in sign ups for my free five day press release writing course - all potential clients for my paid events and training programmes.
So how do you generate ideas that allow you show what your business is all about? Here's three ideas to get you started:
1.Mine your life for content
Most people have a story behind their business (if not several) that can be turned into media content.
This Daily Express article which features a woman who encouraged her family to stop buying anything new for a year - an experiment that sparked the idea for her business, Make Do And Mendable - is a great example.
Exploring areas of your life that intersect with your business can be good too, as this Huffington Post article from podcaster and speaker Stacey Harris - how pink hair changed my business - shows.
Showing what you know can be a great way to promote your business.
Lifestyle entrepreneur Lewis Howes does exactly that in his series for the the popular online magazine Entrepreneur.
I’ve done this too, in a series of ‘how to’ articles for the Guardian on how to get media coverage for your small business. The most popular: how to write an effective press release for your small business has sent dozens of prospective clients my way.
3. Say something interesting
Writing opinion articles is another great way to show what you know and establish yourself as a thought leader.
Belinda Parmar, founder of Lady Geek, a campaigning agency that embeds ‘empathy’ into big businesses into companies gets loads of fantastic press coverage. But you rarely hear about her company; she’s usually talking about her mission to get women and girls more involved in tech - as in this article.
Don't worry if writing’s not your thing: you can always hire someone to write - or even edit - opinion articles for you (which is a lot more cost effective than hire a PR company).