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How to get local press coverage for your small business

A local journalist interviews a small business owner outside his shop.
Portrait of Marisa Fine, Communications Manager at Melio
Marisa Fine Communications Manager
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It’s not always easy to be a small business owner. Entrepreneurs have endless responsibilities such as making sure their customers are happy, paying their bills on time, retaining employees, and the list goes on. Plus, you also need to ensure people hear about your business. 

One way small businesses can stand out to customers in their community is by being featured in a local newspaper, media outlet, or website. Positive press coverage not only enhances visibility but also attracts more customers, building credibility and trust. In addition, it has the potential to drive increased web traffic to your digital assets and create opportunities for expanding your social media following.

Follow these six tips to grab the attention of journalists and news outlets so your small business gets featured in the local press.

1. Do some research

Take the time to familiarize yourself with your favorite local newspapers, radio stations, blogs, and other outlets. Make a note of the reporters who cover topics related to your business and create a wishlist of the outlets you hope to be featured in.

2. Introduce yourself

Establish a connection with local reporters by introducing yourself and your business. Share the inspiration behind your business, why you started it, and what sets it apart

Don’t worry or feel awkward reaching out to someone you don’t know. Remember, journalists are always on the lookout for a great story, it’s their job. So, as long as you’re sensible and respectful when you approach them, you’re not bothering them.

3. Invite reporters to your event

Extend invitations to local reporters for any events your business is hosting. Whether it’s a store opening, a special occasion, or a holiday party, it’s always a good idea to reach out with a personal invitation.

Be sure to tell the reporter about the event and why you think it would be relevant for them to come. Provide them with an incentive to show up personally, besides some delicious hor d’oeuvres. Perhaps you can offer an interview with the business owner (since it’s you, that can be arranged) or maybe you can share that you’ll have a special guest, such as a local celebrity, in attendance.

It can also be a huge advantage if there is a philanthropic aspect to the event since there’s always a story there.

4. Share business milestones

Keep reporters informed about any significant milestones or achievements your business reaches. These can include anniversaries, the launch of a new product, or the opening of a new location. 

Maybe you are celebrating your grand reopening after a fire or discovered a new recipe development hack with the launch of a new sauce flavor. Be creative. If it’s a story that you enjoy telling, most likely that their readers will enjoy reading it.

5. Follow reporters on social media

Engage and follow your favorite local reporters on various social media platforms such as X (formerly known as Twitter), Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and TikTok.

Comment on their content, engage, like their articles (of course only if you truly do), and build a personal digital connection so they’ll keep you in mind.

6. Don’t take it personally

It’s important to keep in mind that the reporter is not going to always write about everything you pitch to them, and that’s okay. Not every story is going to stick but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. There could be several reasons your story didn’t make the cut, such as bad timing or the reporter is backed up with other stories.

It’s also good to know that a reporter’s inbox often gets flooded with requests. Be sure to send a friendly follow-up email or phone call that gently reminds them about your message. They will appreciate your taking the time to check in with them and will hopefully get back to you with a positive response. 

If they tell you they aren’t interested, move on to the next publication. Try to stay in touch with the reporter regardless and continue to build your relationship, so hopefully the next time they want to write something, they’ll think of you.

Let the pitching begin

Getting some press attention can do wonders for your small business, but, like everything else, it takes hard work and dedication. Follow the tips above to improve your chances of getting the 15 minutes of fame your business deserves. 

If we’re already on the subject of minutes, spend a few to sign up for Melio so you can manage your business payments online and lighten the burden on your entrepreneurial shoulders.

*This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as financial advice.
**Melio does not provide legal, tax or accounting advice, and you should consult with a professional advisor before making any financial decisions.