The A-Z of working with the media to create business partnerships and sales

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Why is it that most small business owners take the longest and most difficult routes to find clients? I meet thousands of SMEs each year and most completely overlook one the best and fastest ways to get in front of more people – the media.

Ask a small business owner how they plan to get clients and their strategies are haphazard at best.  They often involve one or more of the following – ‘social media slow burn’ where you post, like and comment for hours each day across multiple platforms but never convert clients; expensive and ineffective advertising, word of mouth or networking – one by one for years; or hiring an expensive agency who doesn’t really understand them. Sound familiar?  

What most small operators don’t understand is their own media potential.  In this 24-7 news cycle there is a massive thirst for content by journalists and bloggers

Done well, stories on TV, digital news sites, radio, newspapers, magazines and blogs can expose you to more clients, as well as opening doors to strategic business alliances and partners, which is where the fun really starts.

For example, Lynn Berry who attended one of our courses, recently hit international headlines thanks to her simple idea that she sent to the media.  

In the lead up to the centenary of ANZAC Day in 2015 she wanted to create a display of 5,000 hand knitted poppies at Melbourne’s Federation Square in honour of her father who fought at Gallipoli.  A few press releases to the media saw the story take off and she was featured across the country in mainstream media.  The end result was 250,000 poppies, 10,000 of which were made by Turkish knitters when the story went viral.

The exposure lead to a partnership with the Victorian Government who provided funding to take the massive display to London’s 2016 Chelsea Flower Show. Qantas then came on board to provide free cargo. The icing on the cake was the British Royal Family visited the display and Lynn met the Queen.

Lynn’s story is a great demonstration that the media is interested in people who have a passion and purpose for what they do, and this is the case with most small business owners.

So how do you get a slice of the media action like Lynn?

The first step is to identify where you want to be in the media and then get really familiar with that outlet.  Study the stories they run and note down the name of the journalist who’s producing them. Then think of what you can provide that fits into that style.  

It’s important to always think visually because the media might not be interested without good images or video. Contact the journalist with your snappy press release and images, follow up with a phone call and always focus on what’s in it for the media.

In order to leverage your five minutes of fame be sure to gear up your back end.  Is your web site ready to take orders, can you be easily found online, and are there references to the story content on your social media platforms?

Once the story has been broadcast or published make the most of it by telling your clients, including it in proposals to potential strategic alliance partners, loading the coverage to your website and social media, and even use it in your email signature.

Sue Papadoulis
Sue Papadoulis is a former journalist and PR industry disruptor who runs Publicity for Profit. Her team helps entrepreneurs get free publicity in the media through workshops and a done-for-you PR service.

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