How To Get Your Name In Print – Getting Local Press for Your Crafty Biz
I recently got two great pieces of local press for my newly launched online shop. One was a mention in the local newspaper, The Times-Picayune, which appeared on the front page of the Living section as well as in an article published on their website. The other was in the monthly fashion and style pullout of our free weekly news magazine, The Gambit. Getting your name in print and achieving great press for your small business isn’t as hard as you may think, if you go about it the right way.
Both pieces of recent press were made easier to achieve due to the fact that I’ve put in a lot of groundwork over the last few years, making the relevant writers and editors of both of these publications aware of my brand through local events I’ve participated in as well as through occasional comments on their websites and email exchanges. Local press is usually much easier to get for your business than a mention in a national publication. You’ll be a much bigger fish in a much smaller pond, and most local publications love to feature feel good stories about local artists and entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, it helps if you have an angle of interest that you can pitch to them. What makes you stand out from other local artists or business owners?
For the first piece of recent press, a mention in The Times-Picayune in an article about local artists who are contributing part of their revenue to aid in Gulf oil spill relief efforts, I was actually referred to the writer by another artist, Heather Elizabeth, whom I’m friends with. This is where it pays to be active in your local community – most of the local press that I’ve achieved has been because of events I’ve been involved with in the community, or through situations like this. When I first heard about the current situation still unraveling in the Gulf of Mexico, I wanted to do something, ANYTHING to help. The first thing that jumped to mind was that the least I could do would be to donate a percentage of my profits to local environmental organizations who are helping with clean up efforts. I mentioned this on my blog, Facebook, etc., and when the fashion & lifestyle editor for the newspaper contacted Heather Elizabeth about efforts she was making to aid in oil spill relief efforts, she told the editor that I was also trying to raise funds for the same cause.
Last summer, a group I’m a part of, the New Orleans Craft Mafia, got some great press from the same editor after we did free t-shirt recycling workshops at a local music festival. (That newspaper article also led to a spot on the local early morning news show!) So it helped that the editor was familiar with me and my work when this current story came around.
The second piece of recent press I received was an even bigger article (1/3 of a page!), and unlike the newspaper article which mentioned a variety of other businesses, the article in The Gambit was just about me and my business. The Gambit features a “Shopping News” section in every issue – this section usually consists of 4-5 short blurbs about sales and trunk shows going on around town. For events that the New Orleans Craft Mafia has sponsored, we’ve managed to get mentions in this section before, so I had a feeling I might stand a chance of getting a mention there, especially if I sent them a special coupon code, just for Gambit readers. (Everyone likes a special, exclusive deal just for their readers, right?!?) So I sent an email to a couple of the ladies who typically write about shopping and local businesses for the magazine, and politely introduced them to my new online store and mentioned the special coupon code I’d created just for their readers, in case they’d like to publish it. What happened was much better than expected! They told me they’d love to feature me and one of the writers gave me a call a few days later. We talked for at least 20 minutes and I was asked to send along a few high-resolution images. At this point, I knew I was going to get more than just a brief blurb. The press from this article has been great – I’ve had a lot of people that I know say they saw the article and I’ve already had some orders roll in.
Getting local press really isn’t as hard as you think. It’s much like getting press on blogs for your business – I find that it helps if you are friendly and personable, and when you email the writer, address them by name. (Be careful about sending emails to too many publications at once. For one thing, you don’t want to accidentally address someone by the wrong name when doing mass emails. Secondly, I like to stagger out my contacts with bloggers and local press – no one wants to write about the exact same thing that everyone else is already writing about, so sending mass emails all at once is likely to backfire.)
Create a press list, so that when you have local events coming up, or new product launches, you’ll have all the information you need right at your fingertips to contact the right people. Most print publications these days have websites with contact information for their writers. If you can’t find the email address for a specific writer, you can usually figure out the standard format for email addresses at a particular publication. It usually goes something like first initial last name @ publication name.com, i.e. email@example.com. Try to email the individual writers who usually cover the topics relevant to your business if possible. You’ll usually have more luck than if you just email a generic submissions address.
While I feel that local press is a great place to start, it never hurts to go after national publications as well, both online and print. HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a great free resource for finding potential press opportunities. You can sign up to get their free email blasts (sent out 3 times a day, Monday through Friday) which lists press opportunities of all shapes and stripes. You will have to weed through a lot of requests that have nothing to do with your businesses, but occasionally you may hit on a goldmine when the perfect opportunity arises.
I hope this helps some of you! When it comes down to it, there is no such thing as “free” press for your business. You’ll probably have to put a good bit of time and energy into achieving press mentions about your business. But this type of marketing for your business is definitely worth the effort!