Publicity regarding your company is a great way to grow your client or customer list, and best of all – it’s free advertising.

The problem is, a lot of businesses are competing for the attention of local and regional media. Large companies have the clout and the PR talent to get noticed by the business editor of the local newspaper or a freelance writer with connections. But what’s a smaller company to do? Here are some ideas:

Start by meeting the right people. Media representatives are always looking for the next big thing, or a quirky idea that will attract readers’ attention. Contact the editor at the local paper, TV station or business magazine and meet face-to-face. These are the people who decide whether to run your story. The people who can create interest in you, your business, and your products, and generate word of mouth that can quickly boost your bottom line.

Get some professional help. You might have a really newsworthy event that you’d like the media to cover, but you don’t know how to write or distribute a press release. Instead of doing a poor job of it, it would be worthwhile to find someone with the talent and experience you need to help you craft a professional-looking press release that will attract media attention. Check online sources or your local journalism school to find a freelancer who’d be willing to spend a few hours helping you.

Yes, you pay the writer, but an article in the local press that generates more revenue can cover the cost of hiring a writer and sending press releases to newspapers, TV and radio stations in your service area.

What’s the hook? Why would a TV station send a crew to your office to shoot footage of what you do or sell? It’s not enough to simply be a local business. There are lots of businesses in your area. Don’t expect the reporter to figure out the hook. What makes your business interesting? Spell it out in terms an average audience or reader understands. If you drop in some insider jargon, you just lost half your audience.

Before you contact local assignment editors, develop the hook – that one thing about your company that makes it special. Simplify the job of the reporter. They’ll thank you for filling in the blanks.

Create a journalist database. When attending local business functions, like the monthly Chamber of Commerce meeting or the state insurance commission’s annual meeting, bring a stack of business cards and hand them out to reporters covering the event. Then, be sure to get their cards as well.

Who is the point of contact for the company or organization? That’s the telephone number and email address you want in your Rolodex. This enables you to contact local media – when there’s a good reason to contact the local cable news or state-wide newspaper. However…

…don’t be a nuisance. Reporters and other journalists are often bombarded by badly written press releases that don’t really announce anything new.

If a reporter you met briefly at a local event gets an email from you daily, after several of these time-wasting emails, your future press releases will end up in the spam folder and get dumped, without ceremony.

The quickest way to get every press release you send tossed in the spam folder is to annoy the reader. Keep it interesting, keep it short, and provide the reason local viewers or readers would be interested in the story of your business.

Don’t write your own story, but do provide the facts. When you write the story it becomes a sell piece. Let the reporter run with the hook you create. However, do provide a factual outline and contact information. Make sure all names are spelled correctly, and the title of each person is correct. Check all the facts before handing them over to the media liaison.

Recognize that the local media like local stories. It’s what makes them stand out from the 24-hour-a-day news cycle. Your local newspaper reports on matters that won’t be covered at the national or even state level.

If you’re opening an ice cream store, catch the attention of local media by giving ice cream cones to everyone who shows up at your grand opening. “Free ice cream cones for all” is more likely to get an editor’s attention than a written announcement that Bob’s Gourmet Ice Cream Palace just opened on Main Street.

There are many opportunities to get your company’s name in front of people in the community. Encourage employees to support local nonprofits, and make sure they have T-shirts with your company name imprinted for all to see. Be a good business neighbor and join organizations like the local Chamber of Commerce and economic development group.

Start building your business brand with some free press from local newspapers, TV stations and other media outlets. You’ll be amazed at what a little free publicity can do.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.