Building a relationship with local media is an important part of marketing your small business. The other day, I chuckled as a burly farmer told me how he ran from a reporter that showed up at his place. What’s really funny is that this is the kind of guy that would stare down a bear if it got in his way, and here he was hiding behind the hay wagon because he didn’t know what to say.
His shyness aside, this guy needed to remember that the reporter he ran from wasn’t looking for a major presentation; she was just looking for content. As it was, his place, his rough hands, his flannel shirt, his crop, his grounds and crew – all would play into her story about what he and his place were like. All he had to do was show up. But, not finding him, she went to the next farm instead.
My philosophy for dealing with media visits? Help them to do their job, and they’ll help you do yours. A small business owner wants to make money, craves the right exposure but cringes at the thought of spending money for advertising. Here’s quality exposure (read: free advertising) standing on the doorstep, and my burly farmer friend wasn’t buying! Reporters are in the content business. When they visit, I drop what I’m doing and accommodate them. I make note of names and contact information. I share contact info. The idea is to make it easy for them to get in touch, so they can do their job and create content that people will be interested in. Reporters appreciate someone that makes their work a little easier, because few people do. Yeah, sometimes that meant I’d wind up being asked to talk about a delicate subject, such as pesticide use on the farm. This is because reporters are not always running with the headline “Business is booming,” but transparency builds trust and good relationships. That keeps reporters coming back, and builds quality exposure for the business.