How to get press coverage without a press release
Last time we looked at press releases. This article looks at other ways you can get press coverage which are often overlooked by small businesses.
Not all articles in a newspaper or magazine are about news. You will often see in-depth articles that go deeper than the short snappy news items. But here’s the bit that’s really cool. Most magazines publish a calendar of their planned features up to a year in advance. You just ring up the magazine and ask for a copy of their upcoming features list and they will let you have it. Many magazines have it on their website.
So here’s how it works. Let’s say you make jam and marmalade, and one of your goals is to get it on the shelves of more retailers. In this case a key title for you would be The Grocer (read by everyone in the food supply chain in the UK). So you would contact The Grocer (or check their website) and get their advance feature list. On that list you might find that they are doing a feature called ‘Focus on artisan jams and chutneys’ in say, September.
So, you make a note to contact the features editor of The Grocer a couple of months in advance to ask them what they are looking for in that feature. Then you discuss how you could perhaps contribute (samples, some facts and figures, great pictures, a story about how you got started). You send in what you think you could contribute and that’s it. Sometimes you’ll get in, and sometimes you won’t. But you’ll never be in with a shout if you don’t give it a try.
2. Letters page
Most publications have a letters page. If you have something to say about a previous article, write a ‘letter to the editor’ (send by email). A decent, well thought out letter has a good chance of being published. Top tip though, don’t write mad, ranting tirades of abuse. Not helpful.
3. Profile articles
You must have seen articles in magazine where someone is profiled - who they are, their career etc. How do they get in there? You put yourself forward for consideration. If you don’t ask you won’t get. Write an email to the editorial team saying why you think you would be a good subject for a profile piece.
4. Opinion articles
Many papers and magazines have sections in their publications where people can contribute an article that is based on their opinion. Read the magazine you want to be in- get a feel for the kind of articles they like, and then pitch your idea.
In an email, write an outline paragraph on your article title and the gist of the piece. Tell the editor why you think it would be interesting to their readers. Also provide a bit of profile on yourself explaining what makes you an expert on this topic.
If you make a physical product, or are self publishing book, look for magazines that do reviews. Send your product/book in for consideration. (Remember: This is a subjective process, so bear in mind it’s possible not everyone will like what you send them).
Newspapers like The Guardian have blog sections that welcome contributions. It’s a neat way of getting coverage in a respected national newspaper. Read the blog sections the national papers you think you could contribute to, and then email in some ideas (plus some profile about you).
7. Build relationships
Another ‘back door’ into the higher quality newspapers and magazines is to read the publications regularly and make a list of the freelance writers they use. Then, let’s say you find out that The Financial Times is doing a feature in your market sector, you can directly contact the freelancers that are most often commissioned to write that kind of feature, and ask if they will be writing it. If the answer is yes, then talk to them about what you have to offer.