Many local or regional newspapers in the UK are now running with significantly smaller editorial teams than they were ten years ago. The increase of online reporting and social media as a news forum has led to a reduction in demand for printed newspapers.
Reporters now have to write for two mediums – both their own fast-paced newspaper websites, and the more traditional daily or weekly printed newspapers. News websites require ‘instant’ reporting, meaning less time for research or writing of articles, and a higher consumption of news stories to keep the websites up to date.
This means an advantage for small businesses – if reporters are looking for news to populate both their websites and newspapers on an increased level, then we can help to supply it, which in turn supports our businesses with publicity.
So, how can small businesses make sure their news stories are picked up by reporters?
1. Make sure your ‘news’ is news – don’t send a press release on simply a new product, service or staff member unless it has an angle. This might be how this news will benefit customers or the wider community, or you could try and link it to a topical news story, such as employment rates or the growth of your business during recession. Avoid writing a press release which is purely sales-focused.
2. Know how your chosen publication writes – do your research and try to supply press releases which are written in the style of the publication you are sending it onto. This will mean that the reporter has little to change or rewrite, so less work for them to do to get in onto their website or into their newspaper.
3. Know who the publication’s audience is – linked to the point above, you need to make sure you know who the publication is targeting and make sure it matches your own target audience. Don’t write an article all about the work your business does in the tourist trade of a Kent seaside town, and then send it to the Derby Telegraph in the middle of the country, for example – they will not be interested!
4. Don’t over-supply – try not to send too much to your newspaper contacts. Choose your topics carefully and don’t send more than one a week to each publication. Too much information will stop your press releases from being read or picked up, and you will get a much better response from ensuring that you only send out items on worthwhile news stories.
5. Send a visual – if you can, send a high resolution photograph with your press release to illustrate your press release. Readers respond to imagery, so avoid standard images (i.e. the boring cheque handover) and do something which will capture the attention of those viewing it. Increasingly, news websites are looking for short videos of around 5-10 seconds in length to upload to websites with news stories, so if you can capture and send this too, the chances of your news item being published will increase.
Don’t be afraid to send a press release to your local newspaper. Getting it right might take a little practice, but hopefully the above tips will help to point you int he right direction. The readership of regional newspapers has reduced over the past few years, they remain a trusted source of information for many people, so continue to be an extremely useful promotional channel for small businesses.