DIY PR: How to pitch your story idea and get news coverage!

 

Getting on the local news
Getting your story on the local news

 

There seems to be a lot of discussion about books for helping you get on the local news, like Howard Greenstein’s Inc. Now I haven’t read any , books on this subject because I’m here to tell you that reading a book about selling your story to the news is overkill… unless of course, it’s a really short book.

In 10+ years of working directly with local news directors & reporters I’ve seen a lot of good stories passed over, a lot of bad stories reported over and over and over and a lot of stories make it on air just because the News Director thought “I like it.” There were even occasions where a reporter just kept bringing up a story idea and wouldn’t let it go until management needed a story to fill time. The bottom line is, whether we’re talking about CNN or your local affiliate, news folks are people too and their busy – just ask them. It’s true, though, with fewer and fewer available resources, increasing pressure from social media and more demand from management to “fill time” news folks are busier than ever. What does this means for you? They’re more open minded than ever to what you have to say!

So whether you’re story is good or bad, if you follow these tips you’ll exponentially increase your chances of ending up on the news. It’s not easy but this is how it’s done.

First: Answer one of these questions directly:

  1. Why do I care? This is a key question news folks ask FOR the viewer. If you provide a compelling answer as to why “average Joe” cares about your story, you are well on your way to getting on the news.
  2. “Why average Joe care right now?” The answer to this question could get you on the news tomorrow or make you wait until a slow news day.
  3. Who does it affect? – news folks are looking for either “mass appeal” or “extreme emotion” …or both.

Tell the story for the reporter. Don’t write it and email it to them, but make sure you have all the leg work done already so you can give them all the pieces they need to put the story together. Google “how to write a news story” to get familiar with the formula, then practice writing headlines that sum up your story in a broadly impact-ful way. Once you get a great headline you’ll want to use it in the subject line of your emails to reporters and at the top of any press releases.

 

Have camera ready experts on hand!
Have camera ready experts on hand!

 

Be ready to provide experts (or witnesses, or donors, or whatever) and have an idea of what they are willing to say on camera ahead of time. The more easily accessible and camera ready your experts are, the better your chances.

Be pleasantly relentless. Target a reporter first via email and follow up on the phone. Try to get some feedback on whether they like the story or not. Why aren’t they excited about it? What’s missing? Most reporters aren’t getting as many viewer calls as you think. If it doesn’t seem like you’re getting anywhere shoot an email and a fax to the assignment desk. Yes, a fax. Once you’ve done that, call often. If not everyday, call every other day and keep checking in with updates. The more timely your story, the more often you should call! Ask for feedback!

Fluff story? Target a weekend anchor or reporter.

Health, Medical, Family, Safety stories… These types of stories are ideal for pitching to local news operations! The stronger the claim, the better the story! Ideally you want to save lives, prevent theft, save people time or money, show people a new or better way to do something. You get the idea.

Maybe you’re saying to yourself, Wait! Traditional media is dead! …or But what about PR firms? What about social media? Well, no traditional media is not dead. While it’s true they have… uh… “problems” (to say the least) their reach is still largely unmatched and great for brand recognition and a myriad of other strategies. If you have healthy budget and no time for “this stuff” then you should consider getting a PR firm, a media buyer or consider approaching television stations or newspapers yourself regarding ad buys. Trevin Wecks talks more about this in his post Great Deals in Advertising, which I highly recommend.

I’ll be putting some thought into using social media to get your story picked up by news folks and let you know what I come up with… if you have any ideas, please add them in the comments or let me know if you’d like to guest post on the subject!

Good luck!

@richardbouchez

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Photo credits

News camera crew photo from Flickr by ratsinis

Witness on television from Flickr by Ben Brown

 

Richard Bouchez is a certified Inbound Marketing professional specializing in Social Media Marketing & New Media content development. Richard’s web, audio & video work has been honored with Emmy, Promax & CBA awards.

How can we help you?

Inovedia Marketing provides the following services, how can we help you?

Social Media Marketing

  • We provide training, monitoring, blogging & copy writing services which means we can just get you started or manage and build your social networking efforts!

Multimedia Production

  • Let us create your web videos! We have Emmy award winning talent and the know how to create high quality videos & podcasts on a budget. For bigger projects, our access and established relationships with full service facilities means the sky is the limit!

Web Design & New Media Development

  • Put the web to work for you! From tweaks to complete redesigns, we’ll transform your website into an engaging resource your ideal customers will frequent! Ask how we can deliver highly target-able audiences to your door through new media product development! We can extend your brand, drive traffic and multiply your reach!

General Creative Services

  • Copy-writing, design services, online and traditional marketing campaign development, contest creation & management. Ad creation including banner ads, print, radio, television, newspaper and direct mail.

Email: InovediaMarketing at gmail dot com

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Richard Bouchez is a certified Inbound Marketing professional specializing in Social Media Marketing & New Media content development. Richard’s web, audio & video work has been honored with Emmy, Promax & CBA awards.

3 Ways to Laser Focus Your Business for Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

 

Lose focus and customers get the wrong message from your new media marketing!

 

FOCUS is the number one obstacle you will face in any “new media,” web or social networking project be it company wide tweeting or starting a Facebook fan page. Without focus businesses “forget” to update websites, they post links  customers don’t care about and generally send mixed messages. It’s no coincidence focus is also the number one obstacle in any marketing project! Everything your company does involving new media – even the content – is marketing and the possibilities are endless so it’s very easy slip off track.

  1. Find out WHERE and WHAT your customers are doing online.
    A quick survey can tell you a lot! You can ask your customers as they walk in the door, hand out a short questionnaire, cold call them or whatever is appropriate for your business! Ask about websites they visit like Facebook or Youtube. Ask them how you could serve them better by being there too!Tweets U Right CUSTOMIZABLE white TEE shirtCUSTOMIZE it for your biz! @ourbiz tweets u right white tee for Men or Women. Also available various colors and in long sleeves.

  2. Set guidelines “What Would My Brand do?”
    Is your brand loud and fun, like the t-shirt above? Use your brand’s “personality” as a guide for what you should post on Twitter or Facebook. A comedy club might post jokes when a Lexus dealership would not. While B2B might connect with customers via Linkedin.com, everyone should consider starting a “brand” account on Twitter in which you only post business related updates, successes, discussion and events. Facebook is an exceptional place for small business owners to connect with customers as “friends” to exercise your personal brand. Everyone wants to know the owner!
  3. Make a plan. Check it, tweak and repeat.
    You never really know what any given moment will bring, so executing a plan might be just be your biggest challenge! Whatever you decide to do, make sure you sit down with the calendar you really rely on and schedule it! Schedule daily or weekly updates for Facebook, plan out the next 3 months worth of recipes for your blog. Keeping the plan simple and making it a priority will improve your chances for success tenfold. Create ways to measure your success so you cannot fail! If you were to create a goal to get your regular customers to be your friends on Facebook by sending them email invites you should check your progress in a month or so. If your efforts are stalled tweak your approach. Consider handing out social media business cards, direct mail or contesting. The point is, keep on eye on your progress and tweak it if it isn’t working.

Need help with your online product, projects or marketing? There are many free programs available for scheduling tweets and Facebook statuses and there are ways to have your social media sites monitored (for free) as well. If you cannot be active on the sites, please seek out other solutions because at the minimum you should be reasonably “accessible.” If you are asked questions or worse, taken to task, you need to be aware and you need to respond!

If you need help, there are a lot of resources “out there”  that are very cost effective and you’re welcome to shoot me an email or begin a discussion right here in the comments.

Good luck!

@richardbouchez

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Richard Bouchez is a certified Inbound Marketing professional specializing in Social Media Marketing & New Media content development. Richard’s web, audio & video work has been honored with Emmy, Promax & CBA awards.

10 EASY Ways to Inject Twitter and Facebook into Everyday Business!

*Post updated 4/23/2010!!! Please sign up for your email news letter!!! (upper left of sidebar)

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This list combine’s new & traditional marketing and is somewhere between the obvious, hanging a “We’re on Twitter” banner, and the incredibly inventive but perhaps not so practical. “BakerTweet”, for example, automatically tweets from donut shops whenever their donuts are fresh! Please let me know what you think and add to the list in the comments!

1. @YourBiz Shirts

add your Twitter name!
Click image to add your Twitter name!

2. Sign-on cards with JUST your social networks on them is a great way to bring attention to your web efforts! It’s a no brainer to add your social networks to your business cards, but having separate cards printed up can include each of your social network sign-ons, your email & website or blog. You might just see them run out before your regular business cards do!

3. @YourBiz Vehicle Magnets should be long and practical for multiple locations such as above the rear tire. Please avoid big huge ridiculous white squares with tiny writing that are slapped on the door!

4. Across a vehicle’s rear window is a great place to add @YourBiz in large letters!

5. @YourBiz on Your Bumper

twitter bumper sticker
Click to buy, customize to your biz colors!

Click to customize yours in red, blue or black. Also totally customizable to your business colors

*For #s 1 – 5 keep in mind folks on Twitter immediately recognize @YourName as a Twitter sign-on so, in most cases, the “Twitter.com/” can be scratched. You can use any of these ideas for your @twittername or your /facebook name. When choosing a name, try to balance these three traits: as short, simple and close to your business name as possible. All reasons we chose @inovedia from InovediaMarketing.com for our Twitter sign-on.

6. iPhone contests create buzz!

Step 1. Go to the apple store.
Step 2. Consult your attorney. I am not one, I don’t pretend to be one and if you don’t you’re on your own.
Step 3. Purchase a gift card for the equivalent value of the iPhone you want to give away (adding $ for monthly service gives you bonus points).
Step 4. Create a plan to tweet, use Facebook & your email list to execute a contest everyone will be talking about.
Step 5. Create signs, banners, flyers, etc.
Step 6. Reap the reward & email me your story!

7. Are you on Twitter? If you have a restaurant, ask if anyone the table is on Twitter & follow them while placing their order. Ask them to tweet where you are or what you’re ordering. Don’t tweet that they are there without asking as that could be a major faux pas!

If you’re thinking social networking is impractical you probably don’t have the right tools in place. Here are a couple of suggestions that will help make it easier to access Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. throughout the day.

8. Get a smart phone! Treos are older clunkier phones, but they’re still great tools for social networking with cameras that work find and keyboards that rival any blackberry for under $100. New phones with contracts are now ridiculously cheap with versions of the iPhone now under $100 and the Palm Pre under $200. Suck it up and get a “store phone” that can be kept at the counter or front desk for whoever is on duty. No more excuses about not tweeting because I wasn’t at my desk.

9. A netbook placed at the back of your restaurant or on your store counter with internet access. I picked up a Lenovo S10, which I love, for under $350. It’s small, inexpensive, light weight and there’s no DVD drive tempting employees to watch movies (though HULU will be a click away). More importantly, all the social networking tools you’re business requires will be right at hand. Truth is, even most out of date laptops will do the trick!

10. Ping.fm is a free site that let’s you send status updates and photos to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Friendfeed and a slew of other social networks all from one place. Genius! Chi.mp is another option that let’s you send to multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts and comes in very handy if you have multiple businesses or if you’re rocking both personal & business accounts.

Got more ideas? Want to add to these or trash them? Please chime in with your comments!

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Good luck!

Richard (@richardbouchez)

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Create your own edge! Build your own community!

You have a store front, so does your competition. You have a website, so does the competition. You might even have a blog, a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account but if your competition doesn’t already, they will soon. So, how can you stay ahead in the marketing game? How can you stand out from the pack, ensure growth and make a difference that will really matter?

Build a community.

What does that mean? It means create a market place where you can provide a product or service to draw like minded individuals or folks with common interests. This could be anything, a blog, a tip newsletter, quote or photo of the day, whatever you can come up with and, if successful, your new market place will provide you a growing community filled with those who need and/or want your service.

Where do you begin?

  1. Identify your ideal customer.
  2. Identify your ideal customer’s needs or wants.
  3. Identify new products that can deliver that content.
  4. Experiment and test your ideas without breaking the bank.
  5. Set expectations and deliver on promises!
  6. Commit to the long term!

Ideal Customers: These aren’t your favorite customers or even your best customers. These are the ones who want or need your product the most. If you make baseball bats you are probably interested in reaching kids who play baseball, their parents or perhaps schools who outfit entire teams.

Identifying Needs & Wants: This can get a bit tricky so ask them! Social media is great for this! If you’re not active on Twitter or Linkedin, start now! Linkedin groups are a great place to ask questions and get feedback but start now so you can get comfortable using the site.

New Products Brainstorming:
Successful new products can be as simple as a branded e-newsletter, a blog or podcast and as complicated as an un-branded video sharing site. If you’re an electronics store, avoid creating a gadget blog because there are already so many out there. Your going to have to be much more creative! Investigate hobbiests and other niches, perhaps there’s an opportunity for that electronic store to blog about installing or tweaking car stereo systems. Look at your staff for hobbies and passion to tap into!

Testing:
If your new product resembles a blog, newsletter or other niche website take advantage of WordPress.com’s free blogs to create test sites. If you’re considering a podcast build a free channel on youtube, if it works you may just end up sticking with it anyway! If you have an idea that’s not working toss it right away! With proper benchmarking steps in place, failing strategies can be quickly eliminated.

Set Expectations & Deliver on Promises: Trust is, with out a doubt, the key ingredient for any community and once you lose it there no telling if you can regain it! It’s very important to be as transparent as possible! If you’re creating a new unbranded product don’t deny or hide the fact that your company is supporting it. If the product is good and solid there’s no reason to hide. If you plan on serving ads begin doing so early-on to set the expectation of how many ads there will be and try to stick to a posting schedule.

Set your own expectation, this is not an overnight process! While marketing costs can often be curbed with good social marketing plans and by utilizing resources and databases you already have, such as lists of email newsletter subscribers, vendors, trade inventory, etc., this is a process that will take time to build and cost you time to maintain!

Commit to the long term:
Depending on the community, you may have to moderate or provide content for as long as the product is in place. Understand that to keep a community going you have to be actively involved!

The possibilities are endless! With an ideal community at your fingertips you can speak to folks who are actually listening whether your strategic goals are brand building, product positioning, increasing press coverage, educating new customers, re-educating existing customers, driving traffic, creating buzz or creating new revenue streams. Even more importantly, you can reach folks who are actually interested and that’s an amazing thing!

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Good luck!

Richard (@richardbouchez)

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Creative New Marketing Tips for Small Business
Creative New Marketing Tips for Small Business

Big idea? Itching to execute? Now what?

You’re sound asleep in the middle of the night. You wake in a cold sweat because you’ve got it! There it is, the golden marketing idea that will bring the masses to your door! So, where do you go next? Who’s going to execute it? Is it even realistic?

I’d like to introduce you to mFormer.com because I think their concept could help a lot of people get started on marketing projects big or small. Their new online resource for locating a wide range of marketing services and vendors could be especially helpful for business owners and marketers who lack they’re own marketing departments. mFormer.com also offers a free referral service, you can submit your project and they will get you started with vendor suggestions. If you’re a marketer you can create a free listing in their directory here.

SHOP AROUND: Whether you want to start at Facebook community, flyer a neighborhood or spread viral videos, don’t be afraid to schedule face to face or phone interviews with numerous marketers. Even seasoned marketers learn more about  projects just by requesting bids and occasionally you may find out a project is more affordable than you thought! If you  can’t hire out an entire project it’s a great idea to hire an experienced marketer as a project manager. They can help shape your idea, evaluate the folks you want to involve or simply layout guidelines and directions for you follow.

AVOID “DIY” MARKETING PITFALLS: Like many projects, marketing projects are often more complicated that initially thought which makes them more expensive in time & dollars! Let’s face it, everyone’s trying to save a buck and most don’t have a choice, but many projects are better not done than done “on the cheap.”

avoid marketing mistakes

Try to avoid:

  • Taking on too much. Whether it’s you or your staff, everyone makes this mistake and it’s an opportunity killer! You can get sloppy, distracted and so can your staff. Be fair to yourself, can you really make this project a priority?
  • Recruiting your sister, cousin, uncle or the next door neighbor’s kid for “skilled labor.” Even if they are Photoshop experts, for example, “free labor” tend to miss the big picture. Designs tend to lack brand consistency or worse.
  • Handing over Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn accounts to interns! This is your identity & reputation we’re talking about. It’s also an opportunity for you to listen to your customers!

What’s your story? Got a horror story from a project you should have hire out or tips on hiring the right company for the job? Please share in the comments.

While I have no direct affiliation with mFormer.com and I have not used their services myself, in the spirit of “transparency” I want to point out that you will find InovediaMarketing.com listed on their site in the Social Media Marketing category. We offer new & traditional media marketing services such as  multimedia project management.

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Good luck!

Richard (@richardbouchez)

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What would they write about you?

This morning I ran across a nice article pointing out creative ways small businesses are “unique and different” which prompts me to ask “What would they write about you?”

Let’s finally admit that we’re often too geeky about our product, ads and ideas to see that the differences we’re selling may just be too subtle to be noticed by average Joe Public. Other times we may fall into the trap of putting  a lot of effort into selling product differences that, unfortunately, few folks care about. Write down a couple of your products / businesses differentiators and email them out to your colleagues, staff and friends (not your family – let’s not try to sway the vote). See what they have to say. You might just find some new unique and different facets about your own business.

So what would the local paper, a blogger or trade magazine write about your business? If they’re not writing anything… write it for them and send it to them! Well, I’ll save that advice for another day, another post.

Check out Small Hands Big Ideas here to see how some small businesses are actually standing out from the crowd. I ran across it on BackRoadsBusiness.com, which has great marketing information for and about Mom & Pop shops. Photo by Gonzalo Barrientos

-Richard

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