BY ROB SMENTEK
We all know that media coverage, whether it’s print, online, or broadcast, can do great things for your business. Being a consistent media presence not only increases consumer awareness to your brand, but also can legitimize you in the eyes of your peers and in the industry as a whole. Having your professional accomplishments publicized or offering your voice about issues that face the industry in your market—or even nationally—gives people the impression that you are a “serious” business, and maybe even a leader in your field.
However, attracting media attention often requires more than advertising or the occasional social media post; it necessitates a bit of work. In past issues of Chauffeur Driven, we’ve covered the basics of creating a well-crafted press release that cover the “Five W’s” (i.e., who, what, when, where, and why). But, even if you’ve mastered the authoring part, you might still find you aren’t getting the exposure you were hoping for. Here are a few handy do’s and don’ts to help get you or your company featured in the media.
Do: Build relationships with representatives of media outlets, especially in vertical industries that you serve, like weddings, corporate travel, and meeting planning. Whether it’s just regularly reaching out on social media or submitting content for publication, make a point of familiarizing yourself with the editors and even key players in associations. Having a friendly connection is certainly beneficial when it comes to getting your story out there. Moreover, consider being a resource for a media source—in other words, don’t just reach out when you want to get free press from the editor. For instance, CD’s Benchmark & Best Practices column is always looking for input from operators, and our social media sites often solicit input from our readers. By taking part in these, your name instantly becomes familiar to editors and readers of the publication alike.
Don’t: Blindly send a pitch or press release to any magazine you are able to find an email address for. Acquaint yourself with the magazine or news outlet and the type of material they cover. Not a week goes by that we don’t receive a press release that is vaguely connected to the “transportation” industry but has no bearing on the chauffeured ground transportation space. Do a bit of research to find the appropriate place for you and your story.
Do: Target a specific journalist or department. When contacting the media outlet, make sure you’re contacting the right person. Every reputable publication will have a masthead that has the titles and contact information for their editorial staff (Want proof? Ours is on page 10). Make sure you submit your press release or story idea to the correct editor. And if you’re still not sure who to contact, just send an email and ask. Moreover, if you regularly follow a publication—particularly a trade-specific magazine like CD—odds are you’ll become familiar with the writers and editors and will eventually be able to identify who handles what “beat.”
Don’t: Pitch the same story to every journalist. While calendar events and most press releases have wide appeal for any newsletter or outlet, consider giving an exclusive to a single source. Make a news pitch that is personalized and tailored to a specific media outlet and/or editor. There is definite truth to the adage that you get more flies with honey.
Do: Get involved with the community. Hands down, the best way to get featured in the press (particularly your local mainstream paper or TV news) is by donating time for a charity or community-minded cause. Not only does this type of “feel-good” activity appeal to editors and readers, it also firmly cements your brand in the community. Notify the media when you’re taking part in a charity or community activity, and be open and ready for interviews.
Don’t: Procrastinate and send info last minute. News outlets—even websites where it appears that information is disseminated instantly—adhere to a publication schedule. Be patient and respectful if they can’t accommodate you right now or have to pass on the coverage (they have bosses, too). Don’t send your press release or pitch a day or two before you expect it to run. Give the editors a week (at the very least) to review your story and come to you with any additional questions.
Do: Include quality photos. Photos that have some action or human interest attract readers. Consider hiring a professional photographer, especially if you’re promoting or covering an event. High-resolution iPhone pics will work in a pinch, but poorly lit action shots or selfies are likely to get your story rejected. Also, don’t forget to include headshots when sending a press release about a new hire or promotion; your employees will appreciate being featured.
Don’t: Subscribe to the any-press-is-good-press mantra. Controversy might sell records or movie tickets, but it’s really the last thing you want for your business. Plus, bad news for one company often has a ripple effect for the industry as a whole. Avoid making public social media posts that could be considered off-putting to segments of your public, or attacking a competitor in print. While this might get you a few extra clicks online, you’ll likely have to spend a lot of time putting out unnecessary fires, which will hurt you in the long run.
Editors are ALWAYS looking for good material for their outlet. Doing a little extra work and planning ahead will likely earn you a spot in their pages. [CD0218]