A Columnist Explains How to Get Free Publicity for Your Business
Have some exciting news about your business that you’d like the press to cover? You’re not alone – press coverage is one of the best ways to earn some free, widespread buzz while also stepping outside of the often-monotonous social media marketing bubble.
The thing about press coverage, however, is that it can be a little bit tricky. I am pitched for my USA TODAY column everyday. Sometimes I say yes, but usually I say no. What’s the difference? Well, there is a science and formula to doing it right. For instance, and for starters, ditch the press release. Instead, create a catchy email to send to the right writer/editor/producer.
Then make sure you are following these steps:
1. Have a catchy, eye-grabbing subject line
This is the first thing anyone sees when they check their email, so you definitely want to make it count. Avoid the baneful [No Subject], as these often get completely ignored or even deleted altogether. Technical, jargon-y wording is no good either; not only does this make your email look boring, but it might even be indecipherable to a lot of people.
The subject line should be snappy, short, and sweet. “Over 50 types of pancakes at new diner in town!” That’s sure to grab someone’s attention.
2. Write an excellent email
Like your subject line, the body of the email should also be concise and catchy. All of us are incredibly busy these days, so nobody really wants to read through paragraphs upon paragraphs of backstory and exposition. Get straight to the point; all you need is for the reporter to get interested and respond.
3. Have an angle
Make sure that what you’re offering is a great story with a unique angle. Keep in mind that the passion you have for your business and its startup story doesn’t automatically transfer to other people, so avoid telling the tale of how the business came to be with all its trials and tribulations. No one cares. Instead, pick one angle that’s interesting, unique, and potentially relevant to other people. This is the most important part of successfully piquing a reporter’s interest.
4. Be friendly & personable
Don’t be fooled into thinking you need to write in super formal, professional language. Nobody wants to talk to a robot. Be polite and inviting. As well, it’s not a bad idea to know a little bit about who you’re writing to, so as to show that you pay attention and care. For example:
Hi, Margo! I know that you cover a lot of stories about local food and restaurants, so I thought I’d share with you something really fun we’re doing this month at the diner we just opened up…
Again, don’t be too lengthy, and don’t over-flatter. Quick, friendly, and to the point is what works.
5. Be ready
If the reporter gets back to you, make sure you’re prepared to give them whatever information they need, whenever they need it. This may mean making time out of your schedule to meet up with them or speak on the phone, so don’t get too confident rain-checking or canceling. Just because they bite doesn’t mean they can’t swim away.
If they don’t get back to you, there’s nothing wrong with sending a follow-up email. It’s possible that your email got lost in the crowd, so don’t be shy (but at the same time, don’t be pesky!)
And finally, once you get that story, post it forever on your website.