About Len Smith
Become a copywriter
About Len Smith
Become a copywriter
How to get press coverage
Getting coverage in the press
Press coverage is often described as 'free' advertising. In fact, it can be much more powerful than advertising because people choose to read articles.
But don't kid yourself over the 'free' tag. Nothing in life is free. Getting press coverage takes time and effort. But it is well worth it. I recently placed an article in Consultancy Magazine for a Nottingham-based software house. An advertisement of the same size in that magazine would have cost them £3,300 - and wouldn't have packed the same punch as an article.
There are lots of opportunities, ranging from:
How do I find the right journals for me?
In the UK there is a publication called BRAD that is the advertising agency's bible. It lists every journal, magazine, newspaper etc in the UK, including free publications. It describes their readership, publication dates, and contact details, including the address, telephone number and email address of the editors (they sometimes work out of different premises to the publisher).
Subscription to BRAD costs around the same as a mortgage on a modern semi, but you can consult a copy free of charge at your central reference library.
Futures Feature Schedules
Magazines plan their features a year ahead, to make it easier for advertisers to know which editions will be particularly suitable.
For each of your target journals, you should contact the Advertising Manager (contact details in BRAD) and ask for a copy of their Feature schedule.
By knowing well in advance their feature topics, you will be able to contact editors with potential stories/opinion pieces/case studies before they have started booking articles.
Advertorial is the term used to describe articles where the magazine has been paid for the insertion. Many trade magazines offer this service, but.....
... why pay? Editors are hungry to fill pages.
The secret - have a story to tell.
The secret is to think like an editor. He/she wants news. They want a story. Or they want informed comment.
The last thing they want is sales puff. That's why many never even bother to read trade press releases - too many are thinly disguised sales copy.
All you have to do is be different. Always ask yourself "If I were the editor, would I be thrilled to put this in my publication?"
Look hard enough and you can always find (manufacture) a story. Then do all the groundwork, making life easier for busy editors.
A couple of years ago, a very small Birmingham company wanted to tell the world they had moved offices. Not the most promising start but, when we dug deeper we manufactured a story. They specialised in security and it was a new building (possibly the most secure in the city?). They were able to demonstrate a security device that within seconds could fill a room with 'smoke' - disabling an intruder (a potential visual element). A quick phone call to the West Midlands Police provided all the statistics we needed on increased break-ins (saving the editor or journalist having to do the research). Now we had a story. It gained huge features in the Birmingham Mail, the Post and a four minute slot on Central TV (plus all the inevitable spill-over into cable TV).
Offer your expertise
Whether you are a firm of solicitors, accountants, a software company or security specialist, you will have specialised expertise. Try to establish yourself as either the local guru or the trade guru whose opinion is valuable to editors.
It will take time to convince them that you can deliver relevant news/opinions without the sales spiel. But the investment in time can be repaid many times over.
One of our clients, who provided services to Builders Merchants, was eventually invited to provide articles for every other edition of the Builders Merchant Journal. It went on for years.
Editors love photos
Photos fill column inches and they act as a visual anchor in magazines, so editors love them. Always try to provide a high resolution photograph (try to avoid boring mugshots, people shaking hands or signing contracts).
If you don't ask, you don't get
It is a truism, but If you don't ask, you don't get. This is true with editors and it is also true with celebrities/industry experts. I managed to get an interview with Bill Gates for a small North West software house. It cost nothing. How did I do it? I asked!
Lots of PR companies will choose to confuse activity with effectiveness. They send out masses of press releases to completely unsuitable journals. Others offer some sort of measure of success - column inches.
Whether you use an agency or do it yourself, be more demanding. Decide in advance what your success metrics will be. Typically, I look with my clients for things like:
A final reason for using the power of the press - it can be fun!