Posted: Thu 23rd Apr 2020
The media loves to hear how businesses are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, while readers and viewers share the pride when we hear about the brilliant ways the UK's small businesses are adapting to this crazy world of isolation.
So there is currently an open door with journalists. If you have been trying in the good times to engage with the media to profile your business but not yet got their attention, now is the time.
The JournoLink office (virtual of course!) has been peppered with more requests for small business stories than ever before, and we have invited entrepreneurs to share with us their coronavirus experiences, which we have passed onto journalists. Many have found themselves in the papers, with several getting profile in the Sunday Times.
Tips for contacting journalists during COVID-19
Go easy with the moans. We all know it's tough, and we are all in the same boat, many are deeper in the water than you. But do be honest about the impact, the number of staff on furlough, the volume of cancelled orders etc, but then say how you are getting round the problems.
Showcase your 'never say die' attitude. At JournoLink we have seen stories of speed dating going online, dog grooming going virtual (still struggling with that one!), a photography business doing a 180 with clients now sending in their photographs and paying for the privilege. These are the stories the journalists love and will use. And they are the stories that are creating the smiles behind the walls of isolation. So, don't hold back. Be proud to share how you are surviving, however wacky it might be.
Hook the journalist right at the start with that eye-catching heading. If you want to get noticed, you have to stand out from the crowd. Most journalists will see your headline on their mobile, so ensure the first 30 characters do the business. Don't be scared of being provocative in the headline, but do try and make it relevant to the story.
Then tell the story succinctly. Work on the basis of no more than five paragraphs. The first one that summarises the underlying story really clearly, such that anyone reading it for the first time would get the full picture straight away. Then add detail in the next paragraph.
Include a good quote, ideally from someone other than yourself, a happy client, someone who has benefited from the business or what you have done. Then add your own quote.
Add a good image. You are four times more likely to get used if there is an image that will draw the readers eye to the article. The image has to be a good quality one that would sit well in a newspaper. Often the image is what draws the reader's attention to the article, and the journalists will be keen to do just that.
Use a good trusted online distribution tool. There are several that you can find on Google but JournoLink is an inexpensive service and you can currently use the free coronavirus tool for a brief shout out to journalists.
Make sure the tool you use lets you know which journalists have looked at your release, and that you have their details to follow up.
Don't forget to add your contact details too and be available when it's convenient for the journalist. If they can't get hold of you, they will move right on to the next business on their list.
Remember to use your social handles to highlight your release. On Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, share the link to your press release if you can. This will add traction, as most bloggers will use social channels to access news stories.