Publicity is a huge weapon in gaining a competitive advantage in your local market and becoming recognized as an expert in your field. It costs less than advertising, and does more for you in building awareness and credibility for your small business.
So why do some small business owners blow their big publicity opportunity by making deadly mistakes once they’ve uncovered an opportunity? Here are some of the most common errors that can sink a good small business publicity opportunity in the interview with a reporter:
Not Preparing for the Big Interview
Repeat this 10 times – “I will not wing it…”, “I will not wing it…” You’ve worked hard to a get a local reporter interested in a story that will involve your business. You must be prepared for the interview with interesting stories, facts, observations, trends, etc. Winging it won’t win you any points with a reporter who wants to give your business the spotlight but finds that you’ve got nothing interesting to say. Have 3 key messages in mind and keep going back to those if you are a little stumped.
Not Catering to the Medium
Radio is different than TV, and that’s different than online, and so on. You can’t operate the same way in every interview and expect to build a relationship with a reporter. Yet many small business owners make this mistake and end up sounding out of touch with the audience.
Remember, TV demands short, catchy sound bytes. You’ll be on air for 15 seconds, maybe 30. You can’t start with “Well, let me start at the beginning. Back in 1975…”. No time. Get to the point and do it in an interesting way. You need to keep people’s attention.
Radio is conversational. Listeners need you to paint a picture of your business since they can’t see you. Be friendly. Reach through the radio and make a connection with listeners. If you sound boring on radio, you are boring, because the only link between you and the audience is your voice.
Online/print is often more about educating the reporter – you have time on your side, it’s almost the opposite of TV in this respect. They need their facts straight to build a 400 or 500 word story.
Yes, you will be quoted, so stay on message, but use your time with the reporter educating them on the topic and sharing your small businesses point of view on the subject. i.e. if you sell all natural food products, you can give the reporter some background on why people are changing the way they eat, etc.
Turning the Interview into a Commercial for your Small Business
If you really want to blow a good small business publicity opportunity, turn every answer into a commercial for company. This is a big mistake that some small owners make because they think the interview is a great opportunity to get “free advertising”.
Think of it as “free exposure” instead. Talk about issues and problems that affect your customers, and then briefly talk about how those problems can be solved.
Wrong way: “Thanks for asking about how to choose the right car for you. Right now, we’re having a sale…”
Right way: “Thanks for asking about how to choose the right car for you. The most important factor is affordability – you need to realistically look at how much you can afford. Here are some ways to do that with a pen and paper at home…”
The credibility will be valuable, and don’t worry, you’ll get plugged in the story.
Avoid these critical interview errors and you’ll have a much better chance of making your big media interview a success, and driving more small business publicity with future interviews as reporters will come back to you.