The power of the local media is huge in terms of building a brand and growing your recognition, and it can be a low-cost (or no-cost if you do it right yourself!) way of marketing your business.

But what’s the best way to work with them to tell your story?

In the second of our #GrowMySME sessions Dan Gallienne, Head of PR at Orchard PR shared insights into what the media is looking for, how the current landscape looks, and how to identify the elements of your business that the media will find interesting.

Why engage with the traditional media? 

First, a definition: by ‘traditional media’ I’m talking about media written by journalists and published on recognised news channels. For us in Guernsey, that means in print in The Guernsey Press, Business Brief, and Connect; broadcast channels of BBC Guernsey, ITV Channel and Island FM, and the online outlets of all of these titles plus Channel Eye and Connect’s parent – Bailiwick Express. 

You might have noticed that’s quite a long list. For a community of 65,000, it’s a huge list. No UK town with that population would have that many media outlets; we’re extremely lucky and you should be leveraging this position to help grow your business through PR. 

The media lends credibility to what you’re doing. You telling people you’re great is fine, other people saying you’re great is better. 

What does the media want? 

When working with the media, it pays to make their jobs easy. You want to help the journalist to understand what you’re doing and talking about, and show them clearly what it should matter to their audience. 

Remember, the media is a channel to reach prospective customers and stakeholders, but you’ve also got to appeal to the journalist’s sense of what makes news in the first place. 

Here are some basic tips: 

  • Find the hook: you are extremely interested in your business and what it’s up to, not everyone will be. Work out the news hook that underpins what you’re saying: are you doing something no one else is doing, have you seen a huge rise in sales, have you found a new market, are you using a new production method? 
  • Facts: you’ve got to be able to prove what you’re saying is true, so think about the facts that back up your claims and messages. 
  • Succinct: the media are time poor; they get loads of press releases and enquiries, so you need to be brief and to the point. Communicate in simple language and make it clear what you think your story is. 
  • Think visual: a good visual hook (pictures, video) will help to sell your story. A good picture can get you a better position on a printed page or catch the attention of an online audience. Try and include people in your picture, as the media love human interest stories and understanding what the personal elements of a story are. 

Have a comms plan, or at least ask one key question 

For a small business, it can be hard to dedicate the timing to making yourself a full a communications or marketing plan, but this is a hugely worthwhile activity. 

Think about which channels are available to you (social media, your website, your personal brand) and how the traditional media fits in with those. A good way to get media attention is through ‘newsjacking’, which involves commenting on an existing media story with your own input or interpretation. 

If you haven’t got the time, skills or expertise (or budget to hire a comms agency to help you) to work up a full marketing plan, then here’s a simple tip for planning some media engagement: 

Think about when you’re asked, ‘how’s business going?’ and how you answer that question. What are the things that make you proud or excited? Then ask yourself one question: is that newsworthy? If you think there’s a news hook, take the time to sell it into the media and have a conversation with a journalist. 

Want to learn more about engaging with the media to grow your business? Follow Dan on LinkedIn for a handy weekly update of commentary opportunities and new stories, or get in touch with the Orchard team.