Nine ways to get free media coverage for your business

Love more media coverage for yourself or your business? We reveal nine ways you can get free media coverage for your business.

Ever wonder how other entrepreneurs manage to get featured in national newspapers and magazines, or chosen to become an industry expert?

Victoria Lambert, award-winning freelance journalist and CEO of Miss Dashwood’s Register, reveals nine ways you can raise your profile with media coverage.

Media coverage is a vital part of building your brand

Becoming a case history, opinion leader or trusted commentator in the mainstream media is a vital part of achieving profile for your brand, and will bring sales and followers too.

But many solopreneurs and startups don’t know how to get noticed without buying in PR (which may be a cost or commitment they aren’t ready for).

Yet as a freelance journalist for national newspapers and magazines, I spend most of my life searching for interesting people to write about and talk to. You are probably one of them.

So how can we find each other?

Nine ways to get free media coverage for your business

Here are nine of my top tips on making it into the media for free (and making the most of it when you get there).

1) Be hashtag-savvy

Follow journalists who write for your preferred media outlets online. Look out for #journorequest and #prrequest to find out what stories are being worked on, and where you could reasonably pitch yourself.  Before you reply though, check out the user’s bio.

Some may be students working on an assignment – help them if you have time or want practise, but don’t expect exposure. Likewise, new bloggers may not have enough followers for you to get any noticeable response.

Always ask them what publication they are writing for, and on what time scale. If you are happy, only then should you go ahead and offer to help. Remember your time is valuable too.

2) Be one of a community

Mumsnet and Netmums both have Media Request sections on their forums where journalists post alerts when trying to source stories.

3) Be charitable

If you have a health or cause-related story, find the appropriate charity website and email their press or communications officer to offer yourself as a case history. You’ll get training and free advice too.

4) Be Facebook-wise

Search specific groups on Facebook such as Feature Me! where journalists look for personal stories with an emotional angle (and may offer fees).

5) Be pitch perfect

Send out a press release  – this is a short description of what you do or who you are. To write the best pitch possible, keep it short and simple. Describe your business as though to a friend who speaks very little English (or try doing it in a language you have a rough grasp of).

Include one special fact. You might say: “I sell wedding hats. All hand-painted.” Now add in another fact that makes you unusual. “I’m the only person to do this in Yorkshire.”

Add a good quality picture of a hat, your price range, web and social media details, list of stockists, and a contact name and number.

In the subject line, use a “news peg” – a topical or time-sensitive headline. Such as “Royal wedding inspires new range of hand-painted millinery”. And there you have a short, clear press release.

6) Be audience aware

Contact local media such as glossy county magazines, and B2B titles as well as national media. National journalists often follow up stories in local newspapers or on news sites.

Think laterally too: if you took your career up in hat making after having a baby, you might approach a parenting magazine.

7) Be honest

If a journalist responds to your online contact or press release, only offer what you can. Don’t promise pictures of your hats with the Queen (unless you have one). Ask if your business will be mentioned with a weblink.

8) Be calm

Don’t hound or twitter-stalk the journalist if they don’t get back to you – they will if they can or want to.

9) Be a delight

Make it easy, simple and fun for a journalist to work with you. A positive working relationship will turn you into a preferred contact, and make you first port of call for stories about your industry or special interest in the future.

Victoria Lambert is an award-winning freelance journalist and CEO of Miss Dashwood’s Register, an affordable media introduction agency which connects small business and start-ups directly to journalists.