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Securing some coverage in local newspapers or publications can be a great way of increasing awareness of your business within the local community. Many customers feel reassured about using a business that has been positively featured in an article and might therefore be tempted to book an appointment. Unfortunately achieving this isn’t as simple as picking up the phone to the local editor and assuming that they will include you in next week’s edition. So, how do you secure this valuable coverage?
Find out who the best person is to contact. Sometimes an organisation will run several local newspapers so you might find that you only need one contact who can give you information about several publications. Others might be organised in such a way that a few staff members are doing several jobs i.e. advertising sales and features. Identify the people and the role that they play and establish contact with the right person. Often an initial email is a great way to introduce you and your business. Don’t send lots of information though, keep correspondence short and to the point and invite a further conversation. It is worth then following up with a phone call.
You will only secure coverage in the local press if there is something worth writing about. So, it might be that you are running a promotion for Christmas, offering apprenticeships or have just won a hairdressing award. Whatever the story, use it to start a conversation and get some press coverage.
In identifying a good story, it is a good idea to do some research first. Look at what sort of stories the newspaper or publication feature, do they have a section about local businesses or community events that you can take advantage of?
There is typically a smaller team of staff working in local press teams than there used to be, so any support that you can give them in achieving your end goal of getting included in their publication is bound to help you. Write a good press release that you can send out to your contacts at each of the newspapers or publications. If you are not sure where to start when it comes to writing a press release, then there is plenty of help and advice available online.
Good photographs will ultimately help to tell your story and images are always more impactful for the reader. You might find that some newspapers prefer to take their own pictures which can be arranged with them.
So, you have written and sent the press release and photographs, but the journalist might have some additional questions that they want to ask you. Make sure that you are available to take and respond to queries quickly as there are always deadlines to be met.
Some publications might offer a package where they will include a feature about your business in return for some regular advertising. If this is the case, then review the costs alongside the benefits that you might expect to gain as some of these packages can be costly. Be clear about what you receive in return, i.e. number of articles, number of words, will they include images etc.?
Featuring an offer or promotion has several benefits. Not only can it increase your chances of a journalist including your story, but it also is likely to be more eye-catching to the reader. It also enables you to measure the success of the press coverage as you can see the number of entries you receive in a competition or the amount of people who take up the offer. If you are running a promotion across a few publications, you can ask readers to quote a reference, unique to each newspaper, when they redeem the offer enabling you to see how many you have attracted from each one.
Once you have sent a press release don’t automatically assume that it will appear on the front page of the next edition of your local newspaper. Follow up with your contact asking them for an update and if they don’t feature it straight away, then ask when they do hope to include it and follow up again nearer the time. Show that you are keen but don’t overdo it and hassle them!
An important part of any marketing activity is to measure its success. This isn’t always possible if your objective is to drive brand awareness and you are doing this through several different routes. However, if you are running a promotion then you can ask readers to quote a reference code, enabling you to see how many have redeemed or, you can carry out a survey asking clients how they heard about you. This way you can see which marketing activity has been most successful, so you have the confidence to repeat the right ones in the future.
So although securing press coverage might seem like a daunting task and one best left to those with PR experience, it can be a very simple process with a potential to deliver a lot in terms of promoting your business within the local area and attracting new clients.