Large companies often are able to boost their business by convincing people in the media to broadcast and publish their news. Fortunately for them, they often have enough money to hire public relations companies that can devise a long-term plan for working with the media.
Small- and medium-sized companies often cannot afford to hire a public relations company or even article writers for hire who can regularly write press releases for television stations, radio stations, general interest and business publications, and industry-specific publications. Unfortunately for them, though, they often need a long-term plan for working with the media more than large companies.
I worked for newspapers for more than 20 years and have also worked for companies that sought the media’s help. Consequently, I have devised a plan for working with the media. It includes:
- Studying the local media: You might not even be aware of publications that can help you. Consequently, you should utilize the library and/or Internet to learn about publications and broadcast outlets that are interested in your industry. Do they utilize the same person to write or broadcast stories about your industry? Learning the names of people to contact is crucial.
- Positioning yourself as an expert: Contacting publications when you have a news story and expecting them to be of much help to you at first is unrealistic. You should help them. Contact editors who might want to publish a column about your industry before you contact reporters who write about your industry. The (usually unpaid) column’s content could impress reporters and the public. You could become a regular columnist and a source that reporters phone when they’re working on stories.
- Learning about special issues: Columns aren’t the only opportunity. Newspapers I worked for had special issues on numerous industries. If you’re in the real estate industry, learning the schedule for future real estate issues could be very beneficial. You also should find out whether these sections are being produced by the Editorial or Advertising departments because the Advertising Department might let your company write the article.
- Planning stories well in advance: You know when tax season is. So do publications and broadcast outlets. If you’re a tax consultant, you should pitch story ideas for articles that will be published during tax season. I would pitch the idea at least 30 days before when the story is most appropriate for a news section and at least 90 days before a special issue on your expertise. The same logic applies to stories geared toward Christmas, Valentine’s Day, the beginning of school, etc.
Martin Z is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.