Using Media to boost your business

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Business communication is built on relationships – make your network count and boost your business through media.

The media has long been a powerful tool for marketing and growing your business. Not only does positive media coverage promote your business and help improve sales or fundraising, but it can also turn your organisation into a recognised brand and give it credibility.

The days of handing out flyers or putting up posters to advertise your business or products have  passed! The media has become the modern way of spreading the word – it’s quick, effective, and above all it can reach a huge audience in one go.

Let media be your means

In truth, if you really want to grab the attention of the public and deliver your message to your target audience, the media is the way to go. With people’s busy schedules, some no longer have time to spend hours searching for products or services that will interest them. You have to find a more unique marketing approach in order to remind people of the existence of your business despite their busy lives.

When I say media coverage, I mean making yourself part of the story in television newscasts, newspapers, and on radio programs. The discussion of how the small business sector can utilise the media usually has to do with how to market your business via social media, which is an important subject on its own. However, it is still important that you acquaint your business with professional media such as newspapers, radio and television – don’t ignore it! Just look at how politicians use these channels during campaigns, and how well it (usually) works for them. Imagine what it can do for your business if properly managed.

However, getting media coverage for your business can be challenging. It takes some forethought, and can also be costly. Here are some tips from the web on  how to utilise the media at little or no cost apart from time, enthusiasm and focus:

Get to know your media and be there for them

Get to know the media that are most likely to cover your business / organisation (read and watch the media in your local area), make a list of all relevant publications and magazines and develop contacts with the people at these organisations (editor, news editor, chief journalists etc.).

  • Always give the media information that is fresh, newsworthy and relevant to their readers. The media are not there to promote your business – that is what paid advertising is for. They want interesting content that their audience will enjoy.
  • Develop a “virtual” media kit, including the history of your business, its vision, mission and goals, along with brief profiles and photos of key staff and related stakeholders, the most recent news releases, and any recent awards or accolades.
  • Write an email pitch or press release. Most of the time local newspapers find themselves understaffed, so a well-written press release with all the relevant information may be used with very few changes. There are plenty examples of press releases on the web. If you’re not confident in your writing skills, consider outsourcing the job to a freelance writer.
  • Get to know reporters and editors personally, drop off some printed material or personally deliver your press release instead of mailing or emailing it.

Most freelancers have websites. Look for someone with a journalism background as they will also be able to give you feedback on whether your story will interest publishers (and, if not, suggest tweaks that will make it more newsworthy).

  • Make yourself available to the media at any time – give them a home or cell phone number where they can reach you day and night if necessary.
  • Stay in touch with media who cover you. Send a handwritten thank you note to editors, reporters, and on-air personalities. Make sure you are the expert they think of when your topic comes up in the news throughout the year.

Getting your business the right exposure is always a challenge, especially when you do not have a budget for it, however there are many successful ways of doing this without having to dig deep into your pocket, and hopefully these tips will give you an idea of where and how to start!