If you run a local business online or have an online presence for a local business – for that matter, if you are a local business at all – then you should work on your relationship with the local press. There are some great opportunities for free publicity just by becoming an expert in a topic that journalists might like to cover.
If you read your local newspapers you’re likely to find stories that touch upon what you do in your business. When you see those stories it’s a great opportunity to send a short note to the editor and offering yourself as a credible expert to call upon when more stories of that nature pop up. Newspapers reporters all have a list of resources to call for certain types of stories and you want your name on that list. But be subtle. You don’t want it to seem like you are begging and you don’t want to be too pushy. You want your initial communication with a news person to be short and respectful:
- Be friendly. Nothing annoys news editors and reporters more than a pushy person looking for free publicity.
- Be helpful. There is no substitute for helpfulness.
- Write a short note about how you liked an article on such-and-such topic. Be positive.
- Be specific about what you liked.
- Offer yourself as a resource in the future, but don’t be too pushy or aggressive.
- Wait. This is one instance where persistence doesn’t pay off. You’ve made your offer now wait for a call. There likely won’t be articles on your topic every day. If you see an article in the future that you could have been consulted on and weren’t, send a short reminder but nothing too pushy.
Being an expert consultant for journalists working on stories is one of the best ways to get free publicity, but you have to finesse your way into it. Being overly aggressive can kill your chances.