Did you know that the news is constantly seeking new information, creating content, and feeding it to the masses in multiple ways, including websites, social media, email, TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines?
News coverage has the power to get your business instant exposure to a mass audience.
There are stories about people and businesses every day. So how do you get the news to do a story about you or something you are trying to advertise?
The news is ALWAYS on the hunt for information relevant to the audience they reach. There is a good chance they might want news tips from you.
If news reaches out to you first, that is probably your best bet, but even then it's still not guaranteed to make the cut.
If you are the one reaching out to the news, the first thing a reporter is going to want to know is what is the angle. Why is this information news? Is it useful for the audience you are trying to get in front of? Is it local? New? Special? Are people going to care about it? What's in it for the people reading it? If you don't know this clearly enough you might want to think about that more before contacting them.
If you are lucky enough to get into the news, I recommend that you have a plan already set up to capitalize on the exposure you'll get, using social media. It helps to share your news article with your followers and have a plan in place to capture new leads that research you.
You don't have to do something sensational to get into the news.
If you follow these tips that have worked for me to get information into the news, your chances for success will be increased for some free news coverage. Don't expect it, but happily surprised if it happens!
Here are my 5 best insider tips to get in the news
1 - Submit a press release
Include your name, phone number, business name, website, and any other relevant contact or links to relevant information across the top to help the reporter or editor looking at it get back to you easier. Each news media outlet whether it be radio, tv or newspaper, or whatever, should have a website with a contact us or a news submission form. Fill that out with all your info and be sure to tell them why your news is important. If they are interested, you should hear back fairly quickly, and then you can get their email to send your press release to them directly or they might just call you to set up an interview, and hopefully, this all leads to a story eventually being published or broadcasted. Your press release should be summarized. The longer it goes on, the better the chances it will not be used due to space and time restrictions. Careful about adding any kind of attachments, or your email might not even be read when it goes straight to the junk or spam folder. The way to know if this happened or not is to call the place you are trying to get into and ask if they got it. You could also ask in your email that they let you know if they received it ok, if it's possible to get it in, and if they need anything else from you. Following up one time to get a confirmation that yes or no they got it, is OK!
2 - Write a story yourself and submit it to news
This must be provided typed out in an editable word document, emailed preferably. DO NOT write it out by hand and mail it. Some people actually do this, it's not time effective for reporters to re-type your story and they will probably not do it no matter how interesting the content is. If you can include some photos, people like to read stories with pictures. If you can save a reporter time by finding relevant photos for your reader-submitted article, that will increase your odds they will pick up your story if it's good enough. If reporters only need to do minor edits, your story it's way more likely to run than something they have to take a long time to re-write themselves. Do not give them any kind of sales pitch in your press release, or your information might be transferred to the paid advertising department. Stick to informational, conversational tones. Refer to tip #1 on how to find the right person to send your story to and follow up that it was received. You can also offer your expert advice or provide information in a field you are good at, they have a list they keep to call on experts when needed for story quotes.
3 - Keep your eyes peeled for news submission requests.
Best of Business, Letter to the Editor, Business Spotlight, On the Move, Volunteer Spotlights, are all examples of reader-submitted content. Most news outlets have something like this. For example, at the Greeley Tribune, any business in Greeley can submit 50 words written by them, if there is room they will run it on the cover of the Business section. It can include a photo or a logo, business name, owner's name, how long they've been in business, a phone number, and website. They will usually let you run these spotlights every six months when they have the room.
4 - Collaboration
I would suggest you read, watch or listen to news platforms and follow reporters relevant to your news submission and contact them for a submission request. Look on their website for the mainline and ask to be tranferred to them by name. When you get them on the phone, be ready to summarize why you're calling pretty quickly. Reporters are working on deadlines and very busy, so don't go on and on! Especially if you are leaving them a message! Build a rapport and be nice, but never try to bribe them, they have ethical rules to follow. They CAN'T accept gifts or favors in trade for a story. Being respectful goes a long way to encourage cooperation though! Reporters & Publishers are overloaded with so much information, they can get picky about what stories to pick up. They are also human like the rest of us, they don't like to get yelled at or forced to write a story, just because someone calls and wants the coverage.
5 - Calendars
News has a list of things to do and other calendars available to anyone to submit events for free, or for a very low cost. This adds value to readers when they can find things to do easier. I've noticed my submissions to calendars rarely are rejected and they run from the time I post it to the date of the event. These are much easier to get in unless you are trying to advertise something that isn't local, then your listing might show up online but not in print. Sometimes you must submit the event info via email to have it added to the printed calendars, and you must also submit the online calendar info separately to have it appear in print and online. Sometimes news will pick a few from the online calendar themselves to run in print calendars. To submit calendar information you will need to include an event description, date, location, times, cost, contact phone, and email, sometimes you can upload or include a photo or logo and your website.
Those are my 5 expert tips to get into the news!
If you tried all of the above and it didn't work or the reporter you're talking to transfers you to the advertising department because they felt your pitch was a little too sale-sy, be nice to the advertising rep, they could be your greatest asset to have at a news company.
If you have information that MUST get in, be open-minded. You could do a native advertising campaign! This is a form of paid content marketing. The better "advertorials" we can do make it look just like a real article so you can't tell the difference except for the disclaimer you have to put on that says it's been paid for.
The content will be your own or written by a professional writer to make it look just like a real news article, and the bonus is, you can get it in the news when you want to. Other benefits you don't get with free news, are you get to see it, revise it, and approve it. And it's guaranteed to be published wherever you choose!
Rebecca Colvin is the founder of Boudica Marketing. She started her own company after leaving the corporate news publishing world to offer a better array of services to her clients in a one-stop shop that includes all things digital & e-commerce.