You’re preparing for your next big in-store event. You’ve passed out flyers, posted the news on social media and secured signage. Until the event is underway, you’ll probably nervously wonder, “Will anybody show up?”
Local media—whether it’s a town newspaper, e-newsletter or community website—can play a big role in getting the word out about your event. But, how can you take advantage?
Step one is to forget the idea that your event is too small for media to care about. Staff writers may consider using your news if you show them why it’s interesting to their unique audience.
On that front, carefully plan out the key local media sources you want to pursue, taking into consideration whether their audience matches yours. If you have enough time before your event, try to get copies of local papers in hand to scope out what kinds of stories they cover. Be honest with yourself of whether your event is a match and if it is, go after the coverage!
Search the web for influencers in your area, follow local journalists on Twitter or Instagram to see what interests them, and don’t be afraid to reach out to special interest groups. For instance, could there be a Facebook group in your area interested in gluten-free products? Join and tell them about your event. Are you located in a college town? The student newspaper staff may be interested in covering your event if you tell them about it. Maybe there’s a chiropractor or naturopath in your county that has a newsletter for clientele. Could you be a part of it? And, don’t count out local parent e-newsletters like Macaroni Kid, which has town-specific communications and often promotes local kid-friendly events.
If you have the means to draft a press release about your event, send it to the journalists. You may want to reach out by phone to follow up a few days later. Be prepared, confident and clear about why your event is special and why it helps the community. Practice pitching your event in 30 seconds or less, and have a follow-up email ready to send after your conversation with a recap and all your event details. Include a little bit about your store and its mission. Don’t forget to include your contact info where a reporter can easily reach you with questions.
The timing for all this is key, too. Think about the publication cycles where you’re pitching, and contact them accordingly. If your town has a monthly newspaper, you might need to pitch yourself two to three months out to secure placement. Meanwhile, a weekly e-newsletter may prefer shorter notice.
If and when you land media coverage, a quick thank you to the journalist can go a long way to keeping the lines of communication open for additional media coverage in the future. A short email will do the job, and also consider sharing the article on social media (including their Twitter handle or tagging their publication’s Facebook page). WF
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, September 2015(online 8/13/15)