Communicating with the Press

So how do you make the media work for you?

Your local newspapers can be a valuable way of promoting your services to residents, who are – after all – potential clients. The key is to understand what journalists need and how to present your information to them.

Below are some tips that should help you to secure press coverage in your local media:

  • Know your key messages and understand your audience: Ensure that you start by having a short list of key messages that you are trying to get across. Imagine you are in an elevator with someone travelling only a few floors together and you want to explain what your service is all about and what the benefits are. Keep it short and sweet and include only the relevant information. Having this list to hand will help you to keep all your communications with the press ‘on message’ and focussed. In addition, make sure you understand who your target audience is. It is the group who are most likely to use your services. Perhaps it is mothers who have young children or perhaps it is older people. You need to understand what publications this target audience are reading.

  • Know the media title: What are the names of the local newspapers in your area? What day do they publish? What day do they go to press? (Make sure you send them your information in time for this deadline and don’t phone them up on this busy day.) What regular sections do they have that could be relevant for your news – health pages, news section, local events calendar? What are the names of the health/news/events editors? In what format do they prefer to receive information – hard copy or email?

  • Draft a good and newsworthy press release: The press need a story – something newsworthy and of interest/relevance to their readers. Therefore, make sure your press release has an interesting topic. All good press releases follow the same basic structure to ensure that they have the nest chance of being printed. You can refer to our template press release that you can adapt for your own needs. We have also incorporated a guide to basic press release structure for your reference. Longer articles can also be useful ways of imparting more information than you could in a press release. Some newspapers/ other media titles may be interested in printing an article from you. We have a template article (coming soon) that you may be interesting in using and adapting for your own local papers.

  • Develop a good relationship with your local media: In order that local journalists begin to recognise you as an authoritative source of useful information on the remedies and local issues that they can rely on when writing stories, try to develop a good relationship with them. This includes by sending regular press releases, but make sure they are newsworthy each time. If a journalist asks you for information, always respect their deadlines and send the details on time. Be as helpful as you can and they are likely to use you again as a source of information. Also consider offering journalists a free taster consultation, sot hey can experience the remedies for themselves and perhaps write about it in their newspaper.

  • Include a photo with your press release: Where possible, include a relevant and high quality photo (or digital image, if sending by email), as this often increases the chance of your press release being printed. Try to make it a clear picture and of something interesting – perhaps a quirky angle. Large group shots are not usually advisable. Make sure you get permission from the people in the photo. If they are children, ensure you get their parents written permission and that they understand what the image will be used for.

  • Include quotes in your press releases: Not only will this make them more interesting, but it will lend third party endorsement – it’s always better to have someone else say good things about you! Perhaps you have a client who has been particularly happy with your services and who would be happy to provide a quote. Always agree the quote with the person quoted.

  • Piggyback’ on the national news agenda: For example, if the national newspapers are talking about the rise in popularity of complementary medicines, then write a local press release that makes it relevant to your local population by talking about how you have seen a rise in the number of people coming to you for Bach flower remedy consultations. You can talk about how local patterns are mirroring this national trend and what the most common ailments are.

  • Create news: Make a story be creating news yourself. Perhaps organise a trip to the Bach Centre or celebrate Stress Awareness Day by having a day of giving mini consultations. If you are holding an event, write a press release in advance (and send it to the newspapers in plenty of time) to encourage people to attend. You can then also draft a follow up press release after the event to tell everyone what a success it was and show them a picture.

  • Be timely: Make sure you send the journalists any time-sensitive information as soon as possible. If a story is out-of-date (e.g. an event that happened months ago), then it is not news and will probably not be printed.

  • Create a ‘press-pack’: A pack of information that will be of interest to the press is a useful thing to have to hand if you are asked for more background after sending out a press release. You may like to include:

    • A backgrounder/briefing on what your service is about.

    • Key facts about the remedies

    • A list of quotes/ endorsements from satisfied clients

    • A biography

    • Information leaflets: YOU, BIEP, Pregnancy and Childbirth, Animal Magic

  • Consider taking out an advertisement: Whilst editorial is generally thought to be of more value (and it is free!), you may like to consider taking out a small advertisement in your local newspaper or other media title – particularly if you have an event that you want to draw people’s attention to. These usually cost a few hundred pounds in local newspapers. Remember to keep the text short and big enough to read.

  • Make use of all forms of media: Local newspapers are the obvious choice, but there are many forms of media that you could make use of to reach your target audience. Local websites and newsletters of local parenting groups are just another couple of options.

  • Be prepared for broadcast media: Regional television or radio coverage is another good way of reaching your target audience. This type of coverage is usually only possible with a really strong angle (or ‘hook’) for the media, so make sure you have something really interesting and relevant if you are going to approach radio or TV. You will need to be well prepared before appearing on TV or radio. See our guide to preparing for broadcast interviews.