Ask a mentor: how can I get media coverage?

Sometimes our Virgin Startup loan recipients have burning questions that need to be answered – and so, for Ask a Mentor, we’re picking questions and getting advice from the experts.

Today’s question comes from Simon Laing, the founder of Cullercoats Bike & Kayak Ltd. His company hires bikes and kayaks to get people out and enjoying the beautiful countryside of the North East. His question is one that many business owners can identify with – how can you get press coverage and engage the media when you’re a small business?

Dear Virgin StartUp,

 

We often see other local businesses getting lots of press coverage, but we have never been able to achieve this ourselves. How do you engage the local media with your business?

 

Sincerely,

 

Stressed over Press

Dear Stressed over Press,

I sympathise with you – convincing a journalist or media outlet that your story is a unique one that deserves attention can be a daunting prospect, especially when you’re a small business without the resources to engage a PR team. However, it can be done! As senior media manager at Virgin, here are my top tips for getting coverage for your business:

Find a strong hook

Every media story needs to find a fresh angle to engage with local media. A strong hook for a story is the best way to secure local coverage. Are you celebrating your first birthday as a business? Have you reached your 100th customer milestone? Has a celebrity purchased one of your products? Is your business solving a problem in the local community which will make a difference to the lives of those living there? All of these angles can make for an excellent regional media story.

Keep it regional!

Local media wants regional stats and facts. What service do you offer to the local area, and what makes your business stand out?  Regional statistics make a story much stronger, from survey results to quotes from  local people who are willing to talk about the difference your business has made to them.

What’s your story?

If you have an interesting story about the path you took to launching your business, then sell it! Have you had a career change? Have you overcome hurdles along the way? These can all grab the attention of regional media.

Keep it simple

The key to a great press release is keeping things simple. Try to avoid using complex language and try to keep your media release to one page. Use an exciting headline, and include your own quote and a quote from a supporter of your business if possible. Ask a couple of friends to read over the media release and check that it makes sense and grabs attention.

Build relationships

If you have a good story, then call a journalist and sell it to them. Take them for coffee, invite them to see your business in action, and keep in touch. Getting to know them better will both help you figure out what stories they prefer to hear, and give you a contact to go to when you have a newsworthy story. These relationships will count for a lot in the future as your business starts to grow.

Good luck!

Tamara

Senior Media Manager at Virgin