Getting your small business on the local TV news can be one of the most effective ways to promote your business and win new customers.
Indeed, many business owners who land a coveted interview with a local network often report a spike in customer inquiries in the form of phone calls, website clicks and, in the case of retail and restaurants, customer visits.
I firmly believe many bricks-and-mortar businesses improve their chances of getting on TV if they simply approach the media with the right story at the right time – and keep doing it until they’re successful.
Here are some tips you can employ when pitching TV stations in your community:
- News Peg: it’s a larger story idea impacting your overall community, state or country to which you can tie your own business news or offerings. Think holidays, national awareness months, or historic events like the invention of the ice cream sundae. Say you’re a hair salon that specializes in treating kids with lice. Normally it’s not a topic people like to hear about, right? But in August, as kids are getting ready for the school year, it can be a compelling news story for parents who want their kids lice-free (or at least to know how to treat them if the unthinkable happens). For a list of other news pegs for your business, check out these websites: brownielocks, Surfnetkids, epromos.
- Skip the press release: a press release is a great tool that can help you inform and educate customers, prospects and media. Most news pitches directed at TV news producers and reporters are better served in the form of a pitch email that succinctly answers the Who, What, Where, When and Why of your news. Because reporters can receive over 100 pitches every day opening a press release is not high on their priority list.
- Pick up the phone: it’s often very hard to get a busy TV reporter to give you the time of day unless you follow up with a phone call or two. Just because you ping the reporter a few times by email and phone messages doesn’t mean you’re being a pest. You’re helping him or her by identifying a good news story for the community that would otherwise go unnoticed.
- Hold an event: another way to get the interest of the local TV news is to create your own event. For example, I know of a specialty food retailer who sells olive oils and collaborated with a local restaurant on an event featuring a special menu that paired exquisite extra virgin olive oils with dishes from northern Italy. The olive oil importer and executive chef went on the local news for an interview and quick preparation of a dish on the special menu. It was a great interview, the event sold out and both came away with more brand awareness!
- Have coffee with a news reporter: we don’t call it PR over Coffee for nothing. More relationships are started and cemented over coffee than perhaps any other drink. Call up a TV news producer or reporter and ask him or her out for coffee. It’s a chance to introduce what you do and discover potential news hooks of interest to the media professionals you meet.
- If at first you don’t succeed…: whatever you do, don’t give up just because you don’t succeed on your first media outreach attempt. Keep trying! Look for more news pegs that relate to your business. Missed out on National Cholesterol Education Month? Shoot for American Hearth Month in February or National Wear Red Day for heart health awareness for women. PR, like many things in life, is a numbers game. The more you try, the better your chances at getting beneficial publicity are.
If you have any suggestions for ways small businesses can get into the local TV news then please share them. Has your business been featured on local TV recently? Please share your experience!