If you read my article about the resources content marketers recommend, perhaps you’ve been thinking about vamping up your blogging efforts. Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been blogging for awhile now, chances are you’re looking for new ways to increase the exposure of your storage facility.
Blogging is a great way to gain that exposure. Another great strategy to add into the mix is getting your facility covered in local news outlets. To do so, you can write press releases or pitch your ideas to local editors and reporters. Either way, taking matters into your own hands means you won’t have to wait for a journalist to approach you out of the blue. If you’re ready to get your company noticed by your target market and in your community, press releases can make that happen.
It seems like a no brainer that every organization covered in the local news should having something press-worthy to share, but take a look at your town’s newspaper or news station and you’ll find that isn’t always the case. There isn’t always a lot of material for journalists to cover, yet they’re expected to churn out new stories regularly. That’s when you’ll see more vanilla press releases or bland news stories. I could give you some tips for getting coverage like that, but our goal here is to get your facility noticed with fantastic press. Boring won’t cut it.
The first and most important step is to figure out what story your facility has to tell. The easiest way to do that? Ask yourself why an everyday person, who isn’t necessarily interested in renting storage, would care.
Too often news stories (and guest blog posts) are guises for promoting a business. The thing is, most people don’t care about that. They aren’t impressed that your facility may be the only one to offer climate-controlled storage units and they aren’t going to share a story about how you shifted your access hours to better accommodate people’s schedules. According to CoSchedule, these are the reasons people share content:
Entertainment: 49% share because it allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action.
Defining Ourselves: 68% share to give people a better sense of who they are and what they care about.
Relationships: 78% share because it lets them stay connected to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with.
Self-Fulfillment: 69% share because it allows them to feel more involved in the world.
Supporting a Cause: 85% share because it is a way to support causes or issues they care about.
So, while 49% of people are willing to share content to get their friends excited about a certain product, the main reasons people share content are to support a cause, define themselves, and gain some self-fulfillment. Your goal is to give them a press release that meets one or more of these reasons.
An added bonus of choosing a story that meets the above criteria is that it’s similar to the kind of content journalists look for when they choose what to cover in their press releases.
In order to frame your story in a way that intrigues reporters, captivates readers, and promotes your business, try following these tips:
Do something press worthy. If you’re having trouble answering the question “Why would an everyday person, who isn’t necessarily interested in renting storage, care about this story?,” it’s probably because you aren’t doing anything that would grab their attention. While I wouldn’t condone doing good things just to get public attention, if you’ve had something special in the back of your mind for awhile, now may be a good time to give it a try. Could your facility help the community by donating to a charity or sponsoring a little league team? Could you host a charity fundraiser or a car wash on your property? Could you partner with a competitor and come together for the town after a crisis? Think beyond your amenities and get involved.
Figure out what you want to say. Though the focus of any press release should be on what you’re doing, think about what message you want to send. Of course, you want to position yourself as a leader in self storage within your community, but think beyond that as well. What do you want to say about your staff? What do you want to say about your community? What do you want to say about local current events? Have an opinion rather than trying to appease the masses. It’ll make your message more authentic.
Think about what your community wants to read. Now that you’ve got a good grasp on what your facility is doing and what message you’re trying to send, take some time to consider what message your readers want to see. What’s going on in your community right now? What similar stories are being covered in recent press releases or news stories? Since you, too, are a member of your community, remove yourself from the businessman mentality for a bit to answer these questions.
Make the connection between #2 and #3. Not all of the ideas you come up with while considering the points above will make it into your press release. You’ve looked at the story from many different angles and now it’s time to make a strong connection between what you want to say and what your customers want to read. Continue thinking about the questions above and at the same time try answering: What’s going on in your community and how does your story enhance the conversation? What similar stories are covered in recent press releases and how does your story relate to or challenge those?
Pitch that blended idea to a reporter. You’ll make yourself stand out to journalists if you’ve already answered these questions for yourself. Now you need to create a pitch that expresses your story and why it matters. You’ll be more likely to get your story accepted if your pitch already answers the questions the reporter will be asking themselves, like “Why should I write about this?,” “Why would anyone care about this story?,” and “What’s the overall point this story makes?”
And now comes the hard part...
A large part of getting a good piece of coverage is just being in the right place with the right story at the right time. The good news is there are several steps you can take to put your facility closer to a reporter’s mind than your competition. The first step is to find who to contact, which is pretty simple if you simply pick up a newspaper or browse local news sites online. The second, and harder, step is to establish an actual relationship rather than merely asking them to share your story.
Jeff Bullas, blogger, author, and strategist, was voted the #1 Content Marketing Influencer in 2015 by Appinions, ranks #8 on Forbes’ “The World’s Top 40 Social Marketing Talent,” has more than 320,000 Twitter followers, and has a Klout score of 82. He seemed like the perfect person to research for tips on PR and building relationships. Here are some of his top pieces of advice:
Read reporters’ articles, blogs, and tweets. Mention their work and create a greater sense of context and logic regarding the reason for initial contact.
Be humble and genuine. Admit what you don’t know rather than fake it. Reporters keep ongoing contact lists, but if you waste their time, you’ll never get a chance with them (or their outlet) again.
Interested reporters may do homework on you. Update your about page and social media profiles to reflect the expertise they’re looking for, but remember to be genuine.
You’re supplying information but editors are well aware of the benefits of news coverage. Thank them for their time and for even considering your input.
Send a follow-up thanks
Don’t play politician and satisfy all sides of a story. Have a strong and passionate opinion and stick to it.
Be a great assistant; maybe you can’t help with a particular story, but you may know a friend who can. Reporters will remember your help (and it’s likely your friend will think you’re swell too!)
Regularly link to journalists’ stories in your business posts, maintaining indirect relationships and expressing interest in their craft.
Be unique but not off topic. Don’t use obscure or outlandish information to seem interesting.
Be a giver and not just a taker.
Be who you say you are and do what you say you’ll do.
Between nailing down your concrete idea and following Jeff’s tips as you begin to reach out to editors and journalists, you’ll have a good foundation for standing out from every other pitch they receive. And since you thought about what your facility is doing, what you want to say about it, and why it matters to readers, your finished press release will automatically be more interesting than the generic news pieces they’re used to seeing.
Writing that first email takes a lot of work. You have to follow the steps above and then check for spelling and grammatical errors, spruce up your social media accounts, perfect your email signature, and be available to coordinate with reporters by email, by phone, and in person. You may be rejected a few times and you may never hear back from certain journalists.
But once everything aligns and you get that first press release you can proudly claim, the ones that follow get easier every time. You can share the article online, simultaneously increasing its visibility and helping out the reporter. You can send a handwritten thank you note to the journalist who took your story. You can nurture that relationship so that the reporter is more likely to accept your stories in the future. If you think about what they’re looking for and send a polished pitch, you may even be one of the first people that come to mind when a journalist is looking for a story. And that’s how you’ll get the fantastic press your storage facility needs to attract your market.
Did you find this advice helpful? Is one of your questions still left unanswered? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll be happy to help! Don’t forget to like us on Facebook to get updates when more posts like one this are added to the storEDGE blog!