How to Get a Small Retailer in the Local News
There are few things more enjoyable to a PR professional than getting a small retailer into the local news. Be it a TV interview or a write-up in the local newspaper or an online...
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There are few things more enjoyable to a PR professional than getting a small retailer into the local news. Be it a TV interview or a write-up in the local newspaper or an online journal, the news coverage a small business receives at the hyper-local level can truly move the needle on brand awareness and drive new customers through the door.
Yet many small retailers don’t realize that they, too, are every bit as deserving of media coverage as larger businesses in the community. Journalists truly do care about what’s going on around town and often give the benefit of the doubt to the small business if there’s a good story to tell.
Here are some tried-and-true tips on how to get a small retailer into the local news and spark more interest in what the retailer is doing:
One thing that excites local media is to receive fresh story ideas for seasonal topics like summer vacation, back-to-school, spring break, etc. If a small retailer offers a product or service with a connection to a seasonal topic, then a pitch to local news outlets could net a high-profile placement. For instance, in the run-up to peak summer travel season, a local spa or salon that offers skin products could pitch its sun protection and hydration products to educate consumers about the need to keep skin protected from damaging ultraviolet rays with the most appropriate level of SPF.
Further, another popular news story local media love to cover are ways in which local businesses are drawing attention to important medical conditions like heart health or breast cancer. One Austin-based retailer of premium extra virgin olive oils (EVOOs) once landed a TV news interview on the early morning newscast of a local NBC affiliate with the pitch of how EVOOs used regularly in a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease. The owner of the olive oil store set up an EVOO tasting for one of the morning news anchors and made a great case for buying premium EVOOs (like his) over ones in the grocery stores given that his are far fresher and haven’t lost as much of the healthy antioxidants that are good for the heart.
You would be surprised at how many small retailers think that their opening is not deserving of a mention in the local news. Au contraire! Hyper-local news outlets do care about new business openings, especially retailers. They look at retailers as a sign of economic vitality in the community and consider it their job to let local consumers know about a new place to shop. So a small retailer should reach out with the ‘Grand Opening’ story pitch a couple weeks before the big day and follow-up a few days prior. Even one mention could be the difference between a high-traffic opening and one that disappoints.
If a small retailer wins a prestigious industry award then that’s potentially newsworthy for some local media. For instance, one high-end pet shop won a national pet shop retail award handed out annually for a variety of categories. The owner of the pet shop let the local business journal know about it and collared a little shout-out from the journal in print and online.
Generally not a great way to win news media coverage, but, hey, if you try and it works, who cares! One cupcake shop managed to get a local TV news station to bite on a story pitch to celebrate its first anniversary. The shop let you shoot cupcakes at the owner with a giant slingshot. Sounds cooky, right? Well, sometimes on a slow news day cooky is what works. A plus for the cupcake store? The stunt was very visual and made for a fun news segment.
Those are just a sampling of ideas any small retailer can try to win a fair share of the local media’s attention. The more creative, relevant and timely the story pitch to local news media the better. At the end of the day, small retailers have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
About Weslie Oeftering: Weslie is a student at The University of Texas at Austin and Swyft’s resident PR and marketing intern. She supports clients with social media, blogging, and tech PR activities. Swyft is a PR and marketing agency with offices in Austin, Houston, and Denver that provide services for tech companies all around the world who are seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of their services include content marketing, social media strategy, as well as ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.