Guest Post by Tom Antion
Does this sound like you?
You can’t understand why the reporter at your local newspaper has quoted your competitor in five separate stories but hasn’t called you once.
You send out more than two dozen news releases every year , but they result in little more than a few lines of type.
If your attempts at media coverage have fallen flat, quit grumbling and start taking a proactive approach to free publicity by identifying interesting, compelling story ideas the media need. Yes, NEED. Newspapers, magazines and trade publications have hundreds of thousands of column inches to fill. TV and radio stations have hundreds of hours of news and community interest programs they must broadcast. The number of media outlets is greater than ever, and competition is fierce for advertising dollars, viewers and subscribers. The secret to savvy media relations is knowing exactly what they want, then giving it to them.
Here are tickler questions designed to help you identify the best story ideas within your company or organization:
Is your company doing anything unique, or different than your competitors? Examples: A magician who gives a quirky, memorable free gift to every booker who hires her. A web site company that gives its customers discount coupons good for a web site update for every referral a customer sends. An agency that buys creative toys for its employees to use during brainstorming sessions to get their own creative juices flowing.
THE LOCAL ANGLE
Are you the local angle to a national or regional event? During the war in Kosovo, many local newspapers and TV stations ran stories about people in their own communities who kept in touch with their relatives in the war zone. During the Columbine shootings in Colorado, newspapers interviewed local child psychologists and counselors who offered tips on how parents can spot warning signs in their own children.
PIGGYBACK ON A NEWS EVENT
After severe rains in Milwaukee a few years ago, a Minnesota company got several minutes of free advertising on a Milwaukee radio station by talking to the drive-time radio host about a special pump that removes standing water and moisture in the air. The host interviewed a company representative and gave out the company’s toll-free number.
OFFER FREE ADVICE
What advice can you offer that will help someone else solve their problems? Tell reporters they can call on you for advice when writing stories about your area of expertise. Give them specific examples of how you help people save time and money.
WRITE HOW-TO ARTICLES
Editors of many newspapers, magazines and trade publications want articles that tell their readers how to do something such as get out of debt, discipline their children, have a safer work environment, set up a home office, or acquire a business loan. Think of the number one problem your customers face, then write a how -to article about it. If it is printed, try to recycle the article for a different publication.
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