The more people who are familiar with your business and the services you offer, the more potential customers you can attract. It’s simple math! And these days, most people learn about a brand or service through the media – places like social media channels (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter), local news stations, print publications and their corresponding websites, radio and podcasts. Connecting with potential customers through these channels is essential for success, and putting your store on the media map isn’t as hard as you might think. Read on to find out how!
Do not be shy.
Traditional media coverage by a TV channel or print publication happens in two ways: either you seek it out yourself by contacting a media outlet and “introducing” yourself to a media outlet, or the outlet itself interested in something you do and contacts you directly to feature your store in a segment or item they create. While the second option is certainly attractive, it’s not how you should expect to gain the most traction. In order to get your store on people’s radar, you need to actively seek out opportunities for media coverage.
If you’ve never introduced yourself or your store in this way, it can be intimidating at first. Keep in mind, though, that you’re doing the media a favor by letting them know about something that their audience might be interested in… so they’ll be happy to hear from you. Pitching directly to a media outlet saves them having to figure out the idea themselves – it’s a win-win situation for both of you! They have a great story for their audience, and you increase your store visibility and brand awareness at the same time.
What should you pitch?
When it comes to deciding what types of things to present, marketing expert Jennifer Filzen, owner of Rock Star Marketing in Monterey, Calif., suggests looking for opportunities that will present value to the audience in some way. of sale.
“The best thing you can do is lead with valor,” she says. “If your story provides value to the community – like a celebration where everyone is invited, or participants learn something new, or if the story helps people feel safer – there is better chance that you will pique the outlet’s interest in a time slot or item.
Is your shop celebrating a milestone anniversary? Have you just opened and organized an open house for the community? Hosting a customer appreciation day or holiday celebration? Offer a new service or special offer that people can’t find anywhere else? Or maybe you’re growing your business or expanding to other places, or have recently won an award or participated in community service…these are all great (and valuable) opportunities for media coverage.
When Modern Body Shop in Athens, Georgia recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, it gained both digital and print coverage on the cover of the local Sunday paper by simply sending out a press release.
Jake Sapp, assistant manager and grandson of the store’s founder, Gene Sapp, says it was important for the family to set aside a day to invite the community to come together and celebrate. And, having worked in the nonprofit world before joining the boutique team, he knew how important it was to publicize the event.
Sapp already had contacts in a few local newspapers, so he emailed them a press release directly and his efforts paid off.
“The Athens Banner-Herald decided to create a nice profile about the store and the event,” says Sapp. “It was featured on their website and on the front page of the Sunday paper. We shared the link to the online feature on our social media and I also sent it directly to some contacts. It certainly helped publicize the event.
“Securing this kind of media coverage is a great way to stay involved in the community,” adds Sapp. “When you get press, it puts your shop at the forefront of people’s minds, and they’ll be more likely to remember you when they need the services of a body shop. It also boosts the legitimacy of your business in the eyes of potential customers. »
How to reach out and get coverage
Once you’ve identified one or two ideas you’d like to pitch, start by asking yourself if you know anyone directly or through an acquaintance who works for a media outlet in your area, such as Sapp. If you do, use that connection as a starting point and work from there. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter.
Think about local TV and radio stations, newspapers, magazines, or websites that might be interested in what you have to share, and visit their websites to find their contact details (often found at the very bottom of the site, at fine print). Some will have general email addresses or numbers you can call, and many will list directories of their journalists, writers, hosts, etc. along with their contact details – go ahead and email or call them directly.
You might also consider writing a short press release that shares all the details with the reporter upfront, like Sapp did. He recommends doing a quick Google search to find a template online, or finding someone willing to write it for you if you choose to go that route.
Tracking is also important, something Sapp did on several occasions to ensure he was on the media’s radar.
Media coverage can also be purchased when you invest in advertising. If you find that you are unable to gain traction with “free” coverage, it is worth exploring paid avenues.
Additionally, consider signing up as a source on a website like Help A Reporter, which connects reporters with sources who have expertise in the topic they’re working on. If your skills and expertise match a journalist’s needs, they may contact you to contribute to their story.
Whatever type of coverage you secure, make sure you get the most out of it by sharing it on your website and on social media once it’s aired or published.
Consider hiring help.
If these suggestions sound great to you but you just don’t know how to find the time to implement them, consider hiring someone to focus on your media coverage and marketing initiatives.
“If you’re a store with multiple locations or have big revenue goals, you can have someone in-house who can handle everything for you,” says Filzen. “However, if that in-house person is doing other things for your business, they won’t have the time and attention to do a great job promoting your media.
“Small stores tend to lack the time to focus on media, so they can definitely use the help of experts. Therefore, store owners should consider hiring a marketing agency or contractor whose sole purpose is to promote their business.Outsourcing is not only likely to produce better results, but a company or entrepreneur will also have fewer requirements than a full-time employee.