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Often, the greatest challenge business owners encounter is identifying what is newsworthy about themselves and their business. This phenomenon is commonly described as not being able to see the forest for the trees. However, keeping your finger on the pulse of your industry and of current affairs can give you some ideas about how to become a part of the public arena!
Usually, my clients will fall into two distinct groups. Those who think everything they do is of interest to the general public (yes, literally everything, including the mundane, for example, decorating their office differently) and then, on the other end of the spectrum, those who simply cannot think of anything at all that may be of interest to anyone – even when they are achieving the most incredible things!
Of course, that’s where my job as their public relations and publicity consultant comes into play – to gently advise them that, no, the whole world is not riveted that they peeled a potato today – and to brainstorm ideas of what may be newsworthy instead. And usually the client is amazed at what we come up with – even the business owner who could not think of one single thing is left exclaiming, “yes, I could comment on that, and I know plenty about that too!”
In this post, I want to walk you through a brainstorming process so that you can take away some tips to bring to your business. Obviously, this is somewhat challenging due to the fact that everyone has a different business and operates in a different industry. So, in some instances, I will need to generalize and give real-life examples of clients I have worked with to hopefully help with this process.
Firstly, what I tell my clients to bear in mind is that not everyone has the same insider information to their business and industry that they have, and therefore, they will have some information that they can share, to inform and educate the general public and their target audience.
Consider this – around 80% of the news that is covered every single day by traditional media outlets (TV, newspapers, radio, online news channels) is in fact fed to journalists by businesses or their public relations representatives. The remaining 20% is “sniffed out” by journalists themselves. If you keep that in mind, it stands to reason that if you feed news of relevance to the media, you have every chance of it being made public.
Obviously, the challenge is working out what is newsworthy. It is even more of a challenge because in many cases, what is news is an extremely subjective question, and differs greatly from one media organization to another, from one journalist to another, and from one news day to another.
The very first thing you need to do is be very, very clear about who your target audience is, as this actually influences everything. If you are a suburban mechanic and your main clientele are the families who live locally, you are wasting your time and efforts targeting news at the national news stations. Most of the audience those newspapers and TV programs reach are outside of your core client group, and chances are, unless you have done something extremely significant, the national news channels are not concerned with you anyway.
You need to take your industry into consideration too. If you are a beauty therapist wanting to launch a new beauty product, contacting your local motoring journalist is a very obvious waste of time, as the audience is all wrong. Most of these points come down to common sense, however really ask yourself and become familiar with what forms of media your target clientele access. If you were targeting seniors and elderly citizens, you probably would not want to consider online and social media, would you?
Once you have become familiar with what forms of media the people you want to reach access, then ask yourself what you have to say that these people may be interested in knowing, that is within your area of expertise to tell.
Here is an example of a client I work with. She is the Director of a recruitment company in the mining industry. Here in Australia, our economy relies very heavily on our mining industry, as natural resources are one of our largest, if not the largest, exports. Therefore, the health of this sector is of importance to our economy in general – and it stands to reason that business journalists are very interested to know how the mining industry is tracking.
My client is in the perfect position to feed news of this nature to journalists, as she deals with many of the country’s largest mining businesses and their recruiting needs. She fills both employee and contractor positions for billion dollar infrastructure and mining projects nationally. And therefore finds herself with a front row seat when it comes to the talent, or lack thereof, in the mining industry.
Australia is suffering from a significant skills shortage in this sector, and my client comments on that from her point of view, with a very high success rate being printed by national news organizations in the business sections, as well as by industry publications. And when the Federal Government were considering introducing a mining super-tax on large organizations, my client was in the perfect position to comment on how it would affect, and did affect, her clients and their recruitment efforts.
Similarly, when Brisbane was flooded, and the tsunami rocked Japan, my client provided a comment on the effects on the local mining industry, in terms of projects being put on hold, and of a greater demand for Australia’s coal resources by international economies.
My client also managed to attract the attention of national mining publications. These publications, together with the national business news, are exactly where she wants to be! Why? Because these are the publications her clients, Directors and Managers of the large mining organizations, access and rely on for their news.
So, when she is quoted in these publications, it gives credibility and profile to her and her business. This qualifies their decision in working with her if they already do, and if they don’t, it puts her brand in the back of their mind and makes her a real expert identity in the field of mining recruitment.
What I ask my clients is: how can they add from their expertise and unique observations to what is currently happening in current affairs? For example, plenty of experts and business owners from literally hundreds of different organizations jumped onto the Royal Wedding bandwagon. Local wedding dress designers from each city around the world speculated to their local media in the lead up to the wedding, and then gave their opinion during and after the event. What a fabulous opportunity!
If you are having difficulty finding comments that you can add to current newsworthy events and topics of interest, why not create your own? In my next blog post, I will explain how this is done! How you can indeed make the news!!