Exposure: How Marketers Seduce The Local Press

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Whether you’re a small business up for some free marketing, or an individual seeking publicity for charity events, projects or just plain old wacky adventures, you may have gone down the ‘get it in the paper’ route. Massive exposure is up for the taking, if you want it enough. Which you do.

Yet whether you’ve been successful or not, there’s a good chance you didn’t find it as easy as expected. As it turns out, your Halloween Party & Raffle wasn’t as newsworthy as you thought it would be. Who knew?

But the good news is this: the barrier of ‘becoming newsworthy’ can be attacked on two fronts, and here’s what they are…

The ‘human story’ factor

You must face facts. Low prices and special deals may be the highlight of your life, but trust me: they aren’t a newspaper’s priority.

The press deals in human stories, not business ones, so you need to tap into people, not products. If your shop is about to open you’re onto a winner, because that affects the dynamic of the whole community. But otherwise, you have to be more imaginative.

Think ‘people’! Are you or your staff doing an amazing feat for charity? Have you won an award? Is someone retiring after 50 years of service? And you needn’t stop at your own company; what about your customers – has anyone published a book recently or launched an exhibition? If you connect their stories to yours, you’ve got double the impact.

There’s an old journalism idiom which goes something like this: If you see no cat stuck up a tree, put one up there yourself. In other words, create the news if there isn’t some already. You don’t have to rely on others to do it for you.

The ‘woo the press’ factor

Saying that, you do have to rely on others to publish your stories – no matter how brilliant these stories are. And the first thing to remember is this: reporters are human beings, earning a living like everyone else.

In my journalism work, I am far more likely to follow up a story if I am given as much information as possible in a press release (i.e. an already-written article which I simply have to tweak and expand on). Why? Because I’m lazy, that’s why.

I’m joking of course! I’m not lazy, I’m the hardest working man in showbusiness (since James Brown died), and if you want a press release I will happily write it for you. I actually love doing them, for some weird reason.

But think about your own job for a minute. It’s not ‘lazy’ to want a task to be as easy as possible, because you can put it to bed and get on with the next one – and therefore be more productive. Reporters are just the same. They have a list of chores to get through, and they’re much more likely to attend to yours if you give them all the information they need. A press release is even better than that, because the story is already written for them!

And if you write it well enough, you’ll also have some control over what gets published (again, I can help with this), and the cosy, proud feeling of seeing your words in print. You’ll probably see a few edits here and there, but isn’t that what journalists are trained and paid for?

The main point is that you’ve made their lives easier, and they’ll be grateful for that.

So just think create human stories and woo the journalists, and you can tap into the huge exposure enjoyed by your local newspapers and magazines. But most of all, write a press release! (Did I mention I can help you with that? I’m shameless, I know).

Ta ra for now,

Tony

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