Did you know that 25 million people in the UK read a newspaper every day? That’s a staggering amount isn’t it? This includes many of your potential customers too. So, what better way to get infront of this untapped audience than by creating your own press releases, striking up relationships with reporters and maximising your news story through your social media accounts.
In this blog you’ll learn some amazing tips from former journalists turned PR professionals, Christian and Michelle Ewen, Write On Time Ltd, on how to reach thousands of potential customers without having to spend a single penny. And, of course, I’ll be telling you how to make the most of your press releases using the power of social media.
Be your own PR consultant
Yes, it’s entirely possible to manage your own PR and here’s how:
First, I want you to dispel any thoughts that you have nothing to share with newspaper readers. You do – you have a great business, wonderful values and a unique tale to tell. And who better to tell that story than you!
The stories that achieve the best engagement are those with a human element. The most effective way of getting into the press is to create a story with people at the heart of it – preferably you.
I’ve said it many times before, “People buy from people”.
What newspaper reporters are looking for
Newspaper reporters are incredibly busy people. They are constantly on the look out for stories which will resonate with their reader base. So, just imagine how they feel when they receive an email from someone like you offering them a great story to run with. They’ll jump at the chance of featuring you and thank you for being so proactive.
Here’s what they’ll want to see from you and some ideas to get you thinking:
- An introductory email with a well-crafted press release and photograph attached. Summarise what your press release is about in your email so the reporter can see in seconds that you have a great story to share. Don’t forget to thank them for their time – this is your first impression and your chance to start building a lasting relationship with them.
- Who doesn’t love a good news story? Lockdown is the perfect time to share your successes – maybe you’ve successfully pivoted your company during the coronavirus crisis. Good news stories come across as inspirational as they tell your potential customers how you’ve managed your business in difficult times – it could be that you’ve launched an online course or started a home delivery service for example.
- Did you do something charitable during lockdown? Businesses that take Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) seriously really get across their values in a newspaper story.
- Have you formed a partnership with another business?
- In the story state how you rose to a challenge.
- Tell the reader something about yourself and what goes on behind the scenes.
- Talk about any emotions which will resonate with your ideal customer.
Here’s what they WON’T want to see from you:
- A press release with a strong sales-pitch!
- If your article is clearly not a story, but just a way of selling your product or service, your enquiry will be either passed to the sales department (where you’ll be expected to pay for an advert) or simply deleted.
It’s so important that you approach your first email to a reporter knowing that this is a relationship you want to develop and strengthen. Once you have a good relationship it will be easier for you to return to them with future newsworthy stories and the higher the success rate of your requests as you’ll be known to be a trusted source.
Once you’ve nailed a formula that works keep the momentum going!
Paper and online
With most national and regional papers having a digital arm these days your article will most likely appear in print and online.
Keep your eye on the newspaper’s website to find your story – you won’t always hear back from the reporter to say that your press release has been used. Don’t think they’re rude, they’re just busy finding their next scoop!
Also, make sure that you are following the newspaper, and the reporter, on social media. It’s a great feeling to see your article being promoted and shared by them in this way too.
What value does a newspaper bring?
Other than putting a well-deserved smile on your face, you will be raising awareness of your business and the services and products you provide to thousands of readers. It’s also a great opportunity to tell your potential customers more about you – the person behind the business. All this, with no cost to you!
Stand out with extra coverage
So, now you’ve had your press release published, it’s in the paper, it’s online and it’s also appearing on social media platforms you can maximise its visibility even more. This is a really powerful way to take your marketing strategy to the next level.
- Always share your story’s link on your social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn etc. It’s social proof at its best!
- When the newspaper and the reporter share your story on their own social media platforms make sure to thank them in the comments – readers who are interested in your story will see your comment and most likely give you a follow.
- The links you are sharing will generate trust in your business as they are from credible sources. You can share content knowing that the news is current and relevant.
- In your social media post summarise your story and share the link in the comments section. Remember, posts with links in the body don’t perform well. To learn about the top six mistakes people make on their Facebook posts grab a cuppa and listen to my recent
- Encourage your customers to engage with your post and leave comments.
- Always tag in the newspaper and the reporter and thank them for the coverage. This is another way of strengthening your relationship with them.
Three relationship building top tips with your chosen newspaper
- Connect with local journalists on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Start liking and commenting on their posts to get on their radar; they’ll be more receptive to hear from you when you have a story for them.
- You’ll find that reporters will often put out requests for case studies on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. It could be that they are looking for someone like you right now.
- Relationships take time to build, so please don’t be put off if at first you don’t hear back from them.
Don’t neglect your hashtags
Always, always use hashtags across all of your social media platforms. Even when you share your link on Facebook remember to add three strong hashtags at the end of the post.
And here’s why.
Reporters will use hashtags to look for stories. Michelle gave a great example:
“I search for #cheshire for potential articles to feature in a Cheshire magazine I work for. When I see a post that I think has got real potential for a story and one the readership will enjoy I’ll send a message. One of my recent ‘finds’ turned into a four-page spread!”
The moral of the story here is “you never know who’s looking out for someone like you”.
If you’re not really sure how hashtags work then here’s a short video giving you all the in’s and out’s on Hashtags and how they work.
There’s more help too
Michelle and Christian have a free guide called “20 Ways To Get Your Business In The Paper”, which you can download here. This is a useful tool as it can be used for all businesses across all sectors. Having been journalists in their ‘past life’ they definitely know a thing or two, so I recommend that you download this and try out their tried and tested tips!
You can learn how to cut your advertising spend and unlock your storytelling potential with Write on Time Ltd’s Press Pack.
Head to their website to hear how to get your business featured in trusted, credible news outlets without paying a penny on adverts. You’ll get hints and tips, template, information on how to write a cover email that gets noticed, a video tutorial, information on how to take a great photograph and a bunch of etiquette rules!
To join Michelle and Christian’s friendly inclusive Facebook group search for #SheCan365 Female Entrepreneur Group and get your daily dose of entrepreneurial inspiration!
For some top tips on how to combine your press release with a fantastic social media campaign check out my How to put social in social media blog here.
I hope this has given your creativity a boost – I’ll be looking out for you in the newspapers!
Bye for now,
Social Media Consultant, Social Media Executive