Recently I came across an interview I did with Deborah Brown-Volkman, President of Surpass Your Dreams – a career and mentor coaching company with a message of motivation, success, and personal fulfillment. The information is still very relevant and worth sharing on Marketing Small Business Offline. Many of the ideas Deborah shared are easily transferred to most small businesses and can be used in your offline marketing strategies to spread the word AND grow your business. Here’s the transcript of that interview:
Q. What suggestions do you have for the women who are participating in today’s program, that’s never approached a reporter before. Where should they begin?
A. Getting coverage in top newspapers and magazines is not as hard as you may believe. There are thousands of newspapers and magazines in the world today. Each one has to come up with news on a regular basis, sometimes monthly, weekly, and, in many cases, daily.
Reporters and editors are regular people. They have a job to do. Their job is to cover the news and find people who can make their job easier. They need you. They need your stories. The best thing about the news is it’s not about who you know. It’s about what you have to say.
You know more about what you do than anyone else. And if what you do is interesting (it is!), people will want to know about it.
Q. How do you start to develop a relationship with the press?
A. The way to build a great relationship with the press is to become an expert they can rely on when they are in the midst of writing a story. Reporters are frequently on tight deadlines and they need to have a rolodex of good sources to contact on a consistent basis. Reporters are looking for smart and honest experts. They know you want to be included in their stories and will oblige if you give them the best information you can.
Start locally and then work your way up to larger and more regional publications. Be very clear about who you are and what you do. Newspapers are magazines are broken up into sections and you need to fit in to one of those sections. For example, if you are a marketing expert, you want to build relationships with reporters that write about marketing. Otherwise, what you do will not have relevance to someone who does not write about your area of expertise.
Q Can you tell us about Press Releases. Are they important?
A. Yes. Press releases are very important as it is the format the press prefers. You don’t have to do it this way but it’s protocol. Just like when you apply for a job, you have your cover letter and resume.
A press release is a one page document that says, “this is what’s upcoming and this is my contact information.” It let’s the press know why what you are doing is relevant to them and their publications.
A press release is the main way to communicate with the press. It is a standard document that conveys all the information a reporter needs to determine if what you have to say is newsworthy. Unless you have a groundbreaking or exclusive story, most reporters will not talk to you unless they see your press release first.
Use a press release to write about a new program you are offering, a new book, new software or how you are the mechanism to your client’s success.
Q, How often should you write and send a press release?
A. If you have a lot to write about, send a press release each week.
However sending a press release every 2 weeks or even every 4 weeks is fine. The reporters may not be able to use what you send them, however they may be able to use it another time.
The important key is to ensure that your press release relates to the reporter that writes about what your press release is about.
Q. How do you submit your press release to the publications?
Check to see if there is a general press release area you can send to. Newspapers often have their contact information listed on their website. This will be on the contact us page. For magazines, you either have to call and ask who writes about what your area of expertise is, or pick a copy of the magazine to find out.
You can also use a service like http://www.prweb.com Not too expensive and they can do the distribution for you.
Q. How do you turn press releases, articles and quotes into paying clients?
A. Getting quoted in top magazines and newspapers gives you credibility. A third party has endorsed what you have said, and that means a lot to potential clients. Your name was in print and this will make an impression
You can include these press mentions on your web site, in packets to potential clients, laminated on your wall for prospects to see, notes in your newsletters or blogs.
Press mentions helps potential clients feel more comfortable with you, and this makes the process of turning them into paying clients easier.
Q. Do reporters keep a tickler file for time dated press releases?
A. Generally, if a reporter wants to write about what your press release is about, they will contact you right away. If not, and they like who you are and what you do, they may hold on to your release for future use. I have had reporters call me and say “I am writing a story about so and so… and it was not about what was in my release. Get in front of reporters on a regular basis and you will see results from your efforts.
Q. Do they share their (sources) contact information with other reporters?
A. Yes and no. If you are a good source, a reporter may want to keep you for themselves. But also, from time to time, they may share contact information with reporters they know and have good working relationships with. But generally, it’s your responsibility to build relationship with reporters that you do not know.
Q. How do I come up with a story idea to submit to the press?
A. The best way is to tie your release to something that is going on such as a current event. Current events are the way to go. Tie your information to the various events throughout the year, including holidays such as Christmas, summer vacation, etc.
Also, put yourself in the readers shoes. What would you like to read about? In addition, look for what has not been written about. Reporters like to add on to current news as well as write stories about new happenings too.
Q. When you’re having a conversation with a reporter, what are some things to do and not do on the interview?
A. Here are some tips:
Never lie to a reporter.
1. Be friendly, upbeat, and easy to work with. Be real and authentic.
2. Be yourself. Confidence attracts.
3. Be accessible. Reporters may need to get in touch with you quickly. Return their calls immediately, even if the story they are writing about does not apply to you.
4. If you promise to send information, do so right away.
5. Become a news junkie. Know what’s going on in the news and in your field so that you can tie your press release into something that is current and topical.
6. Know your topic well.
So if you are interested in spreading the word about your small business, getting yoru name in Top Newspapers and magazines is an excellent way to promote your small business offline.