PR: Working the Media

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One of the best ways to grow your business without breaking the bank is to get free exposure for your company in the news media. Sounds great, but how do you actually get someone to publish the fawning puff piece you always wanted?

A number of our managers attended a presentation last week by Cameron Herold, COO of a cool Canadian company called 1-800-GOT-JUNK. They franchise junk removal businesses in the U.S. and Canada.

They have been very successful at getting alot of media attention, which in turn drives new customers and inquiries from potential franchisees. And they have done this without hiring an expensive agency.

He boiled the whole thing down to three points:

Know your angle. The Brothers Sloan emphasize the importance of having a well-honed “elevator pitch.”
Similarly, when trying to get a reporter interested in writing about your company, you need to have a few good “angles” that clearly explain why your company is interesting and newsworthy.

Know your targets. Find reporters (not editors) who cover your area, industry, or customers. Read a number of their previous stories to get a feel for what interests them. Reach out to them with a brief (there’s that word again) explanation of why they might be interested in your company.

Pick up the phone! A lot of people chicken-out at this stage. It is scarier than a cold call. So just do it! And do it some more. It gets easier over time.

One last tip: listen carefully when you are talking to a reporter for any signs of what they find interesting about your company. When they seem to perk up about something, expand on it, even if it is not what you think is the best thing about your company.

The reporters I have spoken with are generally bright, with a variety of interests. They are unlikely to write a glowing profile of your company the way you would. But remember, any media mention that spells your name right and does not allege criminality is a good thing.

Andrew Field is President of PrintingForLess.com, known by its thousands of happy customers as “America’s Print Shop.” He works and lives along the Yellowstone River in southwest Montana.

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