Many owners of small, independent businesses that I run into at events and through my work as a journalist often ask me (after I’m done peppering them with questions, of course!), how can I get the word out about my new company, product or brand? And I often ask, have you reached out directly to any local journalists or bloggers? You wouldn’t believe how often the answer is no.
I’m not sure why that’s the case. There are obviously many owners of stores and boutique brands that do reach out frequently and do a great job of keeping their fans, followers and the media up-to-date on their latest news (not surprisingly, they’re often the ones that get the most press). But just as many do not. Several business owners have told me that they were just plain too shy to send a journalist an email. Others have said they didn’t want to seem obnoxious, self-aggrandizing or pushy. Others still have implied that they just thought journalists would find them when their company, brand or product was worthy enough of recognition. And I’m sure many, many owners of independent businesses are just too busy keeping their companies running smoothly to send emails randomly to writers.
But let me tell you from a journalist’s perspective, never underestimate the impact of a short, polite, informative email sent directly to a journalist or writer. In fact, the owner of a small design-oriented startup contacted me this week to let me know he’d read my stories in local publications and to ask whether I would be interested in covering an event he had in the works. As it turned out, that bit of news fit perfectly into a story I was already putting together for the San Francisco Chronicle’s SF Unzipped blog.
A coincidence? Of course. But then again, isn’t life built on them?
My advice: to achieve more recognition for your company, spend some time reaching out.
When you do that:
- Reach out to the right person. Ask yourself, is my company or bit of news a good fit for what this person already writes about?
- Follow-up if you don’t hear back. It’s completely fine to check-in if you haven’t heard anything. Who knows, the journalist in question may be literally drowning in email. It happens.
- Make sure you’re ready for showtime. If your web site is due to be totally revamped in a month or your online shop is opening two months down the line, it’s probably a better idea to hold off on your press push. Most publications and web sites won’t cover the same companies over and over again, so hit ’em when you’re really ready for the coverage.
Indie Biz Tips will be part of an ongoing series aimed at owners of small, independent businesses. Hope you’ll come back for more.
Photography courtesy of Christophe Tomatis