If you’re a small or medium-sized enterprise, you might not have the budget to run a large and effective marketing or media relations campaign. While both are key components of helping a business to grow, there are also other ways to scale and develop your business, such as getting featured in newspapers or on the radio or TV. Below, we look at how you can get press coverage as an SME.

Why do you want press coverage?

The first question to ask yourself is why you want press coverage and what you hope to achieve from it. Do you want new leads, to attract investment or to find new hires within the industry?

It doesn’t matter what your reasoning is, just be sure to have a detailed and well-thought-out plan that is both actionable and measurable for your desired goal.

Who is your audience?

Part of your press coverage plan will include targeting your key audience, or perhaps trying to reach out to a new one. It helps to be as specific as possible with this so that not only will you be able to craft your pitches in a way that is likely to get accepted, but you’re also much more likely to be successful in winning that audience over.

Once you have decided on your target audience, you can look at the publications that you want to target. A great way for doing this is to create a survey for your current customers, finding out what they read, watch and listen to. Tools like Survey Monkey are extremely helpful for this.

Again, think carefully and objectively about who you will target. Getting published in large, national newspapers is not necessarily more beneficial then small, regional newspapers, depending on who your audience is.

How to do it?

Once you have figured out exactly which publications or press sources you would like to target, you can start gathering contact information for the relevant people in those organisations.

Many of these companies will list contact details of the appropriate editors, but some won’t, and spending a little bit of time searching the internet will either reveal the right contact details, or will provide you with enough knowledge to know how their e-mail address might be structured.

It is always best to target an individual, and if you can find their e-mail then great, but social media is a great resource too; contacting an individual on Twitter can often get you a response. Avoid generic e-mail addresses such as [email protected], or the Twitter equivalent, as these, more often than not, either do not get checked or get so many communications that yours is likely to get overlooked.

Crafting a press release or e-mail pitch

Once you have figured out who the appropriate people are that you need to contact, you need to pitch to them with a press release your reasons for them giving you press coverage. A press release is a statement that you issue to publications on a particular subject, and is the most common way of pitching to these publications.

The people that you are pitching to are likely to receive hundreds of pitches for press coverage per week, so yours needs to be tailored in the same language and story approach as each publication normally uses.

It’s about selling a story, not a product or a service. Why should your product or service be featured in the press? Why should the audience of that press invest in your product or service? It is much less about the what, and a whole lot more about the why. As with any social media post, sales pitch or piece of marketing, make sure that there is a hook in your story that will draw the press, and ultimately their audience, in.

The more detail that you put into your press release, the sooner it is likely to get published, sometimes with minimal changes. If you’re pitching for press coverage to a national newspaper or publication, usually a few short paragraphs are enough with a catchy e-mail subject line.

Getting press coverage as an SME can be difficult, and you need to be realistic about your expectations. But sufficient research and time will make the process much more likely for you and your SME.

Chase up your pitches

Be sure to chase up any pitches that you send in two or three times, in busy newsrooms they can often get overlooked by mistake.

This may seem like a costly process in terms of time, but the biggest benefit about the above steps of trying to get press coverage for an SME is that it is all free. As an SME it may be that cash flow is limited, and press coverage will not drain you of any vital funds. It does, however, have the chance to be extremely fruitful.

Written by Anna Lemos