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Even the Score

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Media coverage can be a powerful tool in getting your business’ name out there – marketing your brand without the hard sell while providing a reputation boost.
While knowing the benefits of media coverage is all well and good, scoring it can be a serious challenge – especially if you’re not a particularly newsworthy business. It’s a problem faced by many companies and business leaders: you want to get media coverage, but you can’t think of anything important to share with the world. Journalists are always on the hunt for a juicy story, but if your company is distinctly drama-free, it can be difficult to get their attention. 

A lot of the time, the problem boils down to businesses confusing ‘a good story’ with ‘free advertising’. If you’re approaching a journalist with a piece of sales copy that’s been badly disguised as a news story, you’re not going to get anywhere. The journalist will be able to spot your ploy a mile off, and won’t even justify your message with a response.

So what’s the solution? While it might seem hopeless, in reality, there are a lot of ways to score that all-important media coverage. If you don’t have any interesting news to share from your day-to-day business life, then it’s time to roll up your sleeves and make something newsworthy. 

One of the most popular ways to do this is through research, especially when the findings reveal something new about an important industry issue. The research doesn’t need to be the most academic in the world: an online survey usually works fine. As long as you can get enough people involved, then a journalist should still be interested in what you’ve discovered. 

And if you don’t have the time or resources for conducting your own research, then why not try to make a compelling story out of someone else’s? As always, think like a journalist: are there any new pieces of research available on the Australian Bureau of Statistics? Is there any way you could transform this research into a meaningful story about something that’s happening in your industry? These are the kinds of questions that go through a journalist’s head every day. Make sure they’re always on your mind, too. 
Another way to score coverage is by hijacking existing news stories. Housing is almost always in the news, so there are ripe pickings for anyone working in the home building industry. When a big story breaks, get in touch with your local journalist to let them know that you are available to comment. Over time, you might even become that journalist’s go-to authority on a certain topic. Yet again, the best way to make this happen is to think like a journalist: keep an eye out for stories, try to predict when they’re going to break, and make sure you’re available to comment when they do.

While hard news is clearly a great way to score coverage, it’s useful to think beyond the daily news cycle. Another great way to get your name out there, for example, is through opinion pieces. These are usually articles written by business leaders under their byline, on a topic that’s close to their heart. They don’t necessarily have to be based around anything currently in the headlines, as long as the topic is interesting enough. 

Start by researching the trade publications in your industry, and figure out if they accept opinion pieces from external writers. Take a look at the kinds of topics they like to publish, and consider if you have anything interesting to add to the conversation. Chances are, you have a whole heap of opinions just waiting to be written. 

Advice articles are similar to opinion pieces, but with an added benefit: they position you as an authority in your field. If you’ve been trusted to share your knowledge with a publication’s readers, chances are, potential customers will believe you’re smart enough to help them too. 

Interviews and feature opportunities are another great way to get your name out there. Are you a respected figure in your field? Has one of your colleagues been with the company for decades? Has your business got an unusual history? If so, chances are, there’s a journalist out there who might want to talk to you about it. 

I began this article with a premise: you don’t have anything interesting to share. I’d like to invite you to question this assumption. Many of my clients are completely unaware of the incredible stories they have at their fingertips, and the chances are you are too. Have you ever triumphed during a challenging time? Did you build your business from nothing? Do you have any remarkable members of staff? Can you do something particularly well? These are all starting points for incredible stories that a journalist would love to tell. All you have to do is make sure they can be heard.

About the author:

Phoebe Netto is the founder of Pure Public Relations. Pure offers media relations, issues management and communication services to small and medium-sized businesses, charities and not-for-profits. Phoebe has a reputation for securing excellent coverage for topics that are not obviously newsworthy and an impressive track record for issues management. 

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