Parents in Business – How to approach the media with your news or product

If you are a self-employed parent starting to think about generating interest in your business, the media is a good way of getting a message to your target audience.

Newspapers, magazines and websites, have a target audience and tailor the editorial and advertising content towards these people. If you have a business that fits with the target audience of a wide reaching publication, then getting editorial space can give your business a real boost.

Publications have space to fill and deadlines to meet, and it could be your story or business that will fit page space.

But don’t just blindly attack the media. Spend time carefully researching a variety of publications and build a database and plan. Cultivating relationships with journalists is a good way of getting in the news and also getting back in the news.

Before approaching the media do your research. Build your own database of publications that you think your consumers match. Does the publication’s target audience fit with your customer profiles?

Publications all have their own unique editorial identity and style. If you think you have found one that suits you, take out the contact details of the relevant staff members.

Find out the best way or best person to contact with your news or product. A quick call – frequently to the editorial assistant – will help you find out who to approach. The right numbers are usually found inside the magazine or the contact section of a website.

If the journalist needs a press release, this isn’t difficult to do. There are plenty of websites out there offering free guides. Remember to include the who, what, why and when of your news and full contact details. If it is a news story, get it into the first two lines of the press release. Journalists receive hundreds of them every day and life is short.

If you are giving them information about a product do include a web link to the product, details, price and stockist.

Send low-res images in the first instance and copy the press release text into the entire email. Some publications or news rooms will not open an attachment. And others hate press releases in the form of a graphic image.

Do not send a press release out and then go on holiday.

Try not to send the same press release to every publication. Or if you do, write the covering email carefully to make it relevant to them.

Do not address your opening salutation to the editor of Prima Baby if you are emailing Mother and Baby.

If you are offering competition prizes do be aware that many publications will either charge a fee or have a minimum prize value. This can be anything from a basic £20 admin fee right up to a couple of hundred pounds minimum prize value for glossy mags.

If you get a phone call from their advertising department, be aware that to make your advertisement worth it, you will need to run it for a few months. Ask for a media pack and never pay rate card prices. Make sure you haggle down or ask for some free editorial. But do be aware they are a business too. Good will does not cover business rates.

The media love the Mum Behind… style stories. Sell yourself too for a chance of some free editorial.

If you are offering products for review, don’t expect them to come back again. If you want them back, make sure you let the journalist know before you send them.

Be aware of time frames. Monthly magazines can work many months in advance, newspapers a day and websites sometimes hours. If you don’t want your news to come out before a certain date then put an embargo on it.  If you want to be considered for magazine Christmas issues, September – October is about the latest you will want to send your press release. Big businesses have their Christmas media events in July.

After you have sent an email or left a voice mail message, do follow it up if you hear nothing back. Be persistent but don’t pester. Yours will be one of hundreds that the journalist has received today.