If you haven’t done this already, you may be missing an opportunity.

Most PR agencies will recommend that you send information – press releases – to relevant publications to get new coverage, but if you don’t have a PR agency or the budget to engage one – how do you get into print?

There’s a blog here about how to write good press releases, but first you need to know who you’re writing for.

It may appear easy to start with your local newspapers, but it may not be the right place for your business.  The reason that many companies start here is because they seem to be more accessible.  There’s a good chance you know someone who knows someone at your local newspaper – but, unless your story appeals to their readers they won’t publish it, just because you’re a local company.

Editors of industry journals are often grateful for good articles as they are frequently run on a tight budget and don’t have lots of money to pay freelance journalists.  However, remember that you’re writing an article – not a sales pitch.

Get focused

First understand who your target market are.  Who are you trying to reach?  Not just a generalisation – be specific.  The more specific you are the easier this exercise will get!

What publications do these people read – for business?  Do they read online or hard copy publications or a combination of both?  What are their industry journals?

Does your local newspaper or magazine have supplements around this industry or subject area?

Don’t forget local radio and TV stations – sometimes stories are picked up by national media from local stations.  A drive-time or breakfast show interview can reach many more people than a local newspaper.

A good press list probably has between 5-10 publications on it.

Know your media

Don’t just send your articles in by email – call up and speak to the editor or journalist who covers the area you want to write in.  Find out if they accept unsolicited articles, what kind of material they want, how long a typical article should be, what kind of press releases will work best for them, how they like to receive information – by email, in a Word document or via a telephone interview.

The secret is in raising your head above the parapet and creating a relationship.  It can be valuable as you’ll stick in their memory as the expert on your subject and may be asked to contribute to articles they’re writing around a subject.

Do read at least one or two issues of the publication before you approach anyone.  It won’t do you any favours if you haven’t bothered to check out for the kind of articles they publish and the style and tone of their publication.  It will win you brownie points if you can refer to a specific article in the most recent issue and comment.

When you write for them aim to match the style and tone so it ‘sounds’ right for them.  This may mean having a slightly edited version of a press release for different publications.

A press release can be sent to several editors, but an article should be unique to a single publication.  If you get an article accepted by one publication they will be more than a bit cross if it appears elsewhere – especially if it comes out before their item.  They certainly won’t be interested in any more material from you.

Do your planning and preparation and you could be surprised at how easy it is to get good material published.