Gaining publicity through the media can position your small business as a highly credible enterprise, and can position you as an expert in the field in which you operate. The challenge for many small business people is generating ideas that the media will actually pick up on and be interested in running a story about. Instead of sitting in front of a computer screen staring at a half-written news release and waiting for inspiration, you should sit down in front of the “News Release Idea Factory” – the 6 o’clock news.
Think about it. The job of any good local or national newscast is to inform the viewing public of what is going on in the world around them, and to produce stories that are of interest to viewers.
Isn’t that exactly what you’re trying to do? After all, the media is only interested in stories that they feel their viewers will find interesting. So why not start your research by becoming a viewer and finding out what issues are affecting the public, and then determining if your business could contribute some information or a point of view to a particular news item.
Keep in mind that when an issue emerges on the news, it’s not usually a one-night story. There will be follow up stories and opinions offered on the news stories of today in the days to come. By watching the News Release Idea Factory today, you can find out what tomorrow’s follow up stories will be, and aim to be a part of them if they fit with your business.
Watch for the Hook – When you’re watching the News Release Idea Factory, keep an eye out for news items that are somehow related to your business. You’re looking for a “hook” that you can grab on to, using your expertise and insight as a business owner and a subject matter expert to contribute to the story.
Here’s an example: the news reports that traffic is 50% heavier since the local transit union went on strike. Drivers are frustrated and rush hour is dragging on for hours each morning and night.
If you’re a mechanic, you could contribute your expert opinion on the additional strain that sitting in traffic puts on your car, and what drivers can do to protect their investment through vehicle maintenance.
If you’re a Chiropractor, you could contribute your expert opinion on what drivers can do to prevent back pain caused from sitting so long in their vehicles.
If you operate a restaurant, you could inform the media that you’re offering breakfast specials before 7AM in the morning, for those people looking to beat the traffic into the city. (If you have a local “morning show”, there’s a good chance they’d set up shop right in your restaurant to capitalize on your idea and to talk to frustrated commuters.)
If you can hook your news release in to the news of the day, you will likely get the attention of your local media outlets and the 6 o’clock news. I call it the News Release Idea Factory because as you watch the 6 o’clock news, story ideas for your business are literally being cranked out right before your eyes.
Be Responsive – You should have a plan for your marketing and your public relations activities, that guides you throughout the year. However, there are times when you need to react quickly. When a golden opportunity for a story idea comes along, take full advantage of the situation and get in touch with a reporter or producer, NOW.
Let’s take another example. If you own a company that sells home alarm systems and a rash of home break-ins is topping the local news in your area, you need to react quickly! In a case like this, a news release may not be as important as simply making contact with a reporter and letting them know that you’re available to contribute to any story they might be running about how their viewers (or readers) can protect their homes. Offer them a list of home safety tips, or a walkthrough on how much work is involved in installing an alarm system, or a breakdown of how the systems really work.
Remember, the media needs experts to make the news they report credible. As someone in the home alarm business, you are that expert. In a situation like this where the story is a hot topic, it’s very likely they’ll be happy to hear from you and even feature you in their story. Just be sure to have an idea in mind when you call – saying “Put me on TV to talk about the recent break ins in the area” won’t cut it.
Remember, the news reports what’s current and of interest to viewers. That’s exactly the information you need to develop follow up stories for reporters and producers that feature your business. So if you’re wondering what your next news release will be about, tune in to the News Release Idea Factory at 6pm to find out.