By: Al Getler – June, 2014
This is the way it once was in cities across the USA.
If you had an event or an interesting story occurring for your business, non-profit or community group. You or a member of your staff or group would write a press release and email it or snail-mail it to the editor of the local daily newspaper.
After a few days you either received a call back from the editorial staff of the newspaper to check a few facts or even set up a time to do an interview. The newspaper might even send someone to cover the event or story and, if you really hooked them with your press release, a photographer came out and took pictures. As a result, you might receive coverage in the printed paper and on the website.
Often, and at the very least, a version of the press release would get coverage in the news briefs area of the newspaper or on the newspaper’s website.
Regardless of the outcome, your well-written and interesting press release usually received some sort of attention from your local daily newspaper.
Today, many newspapers just don’t provide that level of coverage. They do not have the staff nor the room in their printed newspapers. This is not true for all newspapers. Some newspaper companies are trying to be innovative and recommit to the coverage they give their communities. Others seem to have given up forever making it a case of what once was.
THE NEW NEWSROOM
In my role as a marketing and media consultant (and former newspaper publisher), I am often asked how one draws attention to their business, non-profit or event if the newspaper can’t do it?
The answer is that you can start your own newsroom and publish your own stories using your website, social media and video channels.
Here is what I would do:
WordPress has made the publishing of information through blog posts very easy for even the novice user. Give me an hour and I can put an attractive website in place on the WordPress platform for your organization and you would be off and running in no time, producing your own searchable news.
Once you write your first story or blog post, I will then teach you how to blast your work out on your existing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social media accounts. And if you don’t have these yet, not to worry, we can put them in place quickly and easily.
Next, using a video camera, even the one on your smart phone camera, we can produce a video for YouTube. YouTube videos are searchable, fun and you can embed the videos right on your website. Not only that, videos can be spread out across social media allowing people association with your organization to spread the word.
Audience size matters
A good assumption is that you do not presently have the audience size of a daily newspaper. And, while that assumption could be true, consider the action of “sharing” when it comes to your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, etc.
When one person shares another person’s content, that content reaches a bigger audience. If multiple “shares” occur, it does not take long for your content to be shared to tens of thousands of people. Before long your audience is as big as or even bigger than the daily newspaper. If the content goes viral it has the potential to be viewed by millions of people.
QUALITY CONTENT ATTRACTS THE RIGHT READERS
Newspaper editors are paid to do one thing very well. They are paid to identify content that people will find interesting and either assign staff to report on it or pull it down off a service like the Associated Press. In my opinion, there is nothing like a well edited newspaper when it is placed in the hands of a talented and seasoned editor. When that editor works with designers and copy editors, a great looking newspaper and website are produced. Without these people in place, the newspaper simply looks disjointed and feeble. Newspapers and newspaper websites can quickly lose readers when they are produced on the cheap. They become less interesting and less engaging. This leaves the door open for you.
Your job in your newsroom will be to try and create small pieces of quality content that will interest your readers. Add photos and the videos I mentioned and you will quickly grab the attention of the readers that care about your content. You won’t need tens of thousands of readers. You will only need the readers that want to hear what you have to say.
Add the functionality of your audience being able to subscribe to your website via email, and you are now talking directly to your audience while providing content that matters in their lives.
Google makes it local and mobile
The web is filled with content, so you may be wondering how your content will be found. Google and other search engines are way ahead of you.
Your information is found locally using a few easy methods to identify where you are located. When someone searches for information locally that matches your content, your search result gets priority. The ability to be found by search engines does take some time and effort, but the payback is well worth it.
Having a mobile website is now key to having viewers and readers interact with your content. This can easily be accomplished during the initial set up of your WordPress website by making a few simple and wise choices. Do not underestimate the importance of mobile, especially in the Boston market. We interact with content primarily through mobile. There are a few out of towners that don’t seem to get that.
I do have to hand it to Tom Duggan. Despite the fact that The Valley Patriot is not a daily newspaper, Tom manages to fit a lot in the newspaper and on the website. Further, Tom breaks news on his Facebook and Twitter feeds while often beating the local daily newspapers, TV stations and websites.
You should send your press releases to Tom via email. I’m sure if he can fit it in the paper or the website he will. Tom’s practically a one man band, so be sure your submission is well-written and edited leaving little or no work for him to process it.
Begin today. Start by learning how to write blog posts (stories, press releases) or find someone in your organization that can. The sooner you realize it is up to you to spread the news about your business, non-profit or organization, the better.
Please reach out to me if you need help. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Al Getler is the president of Ellie on Wheels Media, a company that helps businesses with their marketing and media messages. He is the former publisher of The Eagle-Tribune, The Salem News, The Gloucester Daily Times and the Newburyport Daily News as well as the several weekly newspapers and magazines that make up the North of Boston Media Group. See his website at www.algetler.com.
(I was a newspaper guy for 30 years, most recently as publisher of The Eagle-Tribune and North of Boston Media Group newspapers and websites)