Ever wonder how one of your competitors manages to get quoted in your local newspaper? Whatever the topic – existing home sales in the area, new crowd funding laws and implications for small business, how companies are using smartphones to collaborate – reporters often want commentary from local market experts. Your business gains visibility when you become a source for a local reporter.  The third party validation you get from press coverage boosts your company’s credibility.

So just how do you get on the news media’s radar screen as a  reliable resource? Working with the press as in most everything else you do in business is about building relationships. You need to establish your credentials, offer something of value – in this case information and insight – and be responsive.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you reach out to press:

Know your reporters: Know the print or broadcast reporter that covers your market. If you don’t know this by reading the paper or watching local television, call the news room and ask  or check the  website. Many news organizations list their reporters on their sites.  Once you identify the reporters you need to reach, become familiar with the topics of particular interest to them.

Engage: There are a number of ways to engage with news media these days. If you like an article that a reporter has written, offer a comment.  Follow that reporter on Twitter. You can tweet links to articles that are of interest to you. Also if you find an article of particular interest, send the reporter a note saying so. You can use the opportunity to introduce yourself and your company and indicate subject areas where you could be of assistance for a future article.

Pitch: If you have an idea for an article – not an article about your product or service but one about the market you are in – craft a short email pitch with an attention-getting subject head. For example, if you are a commercial realtor you could suggest a trend in office space leasing in your market and offer to provide background and your perspective.

Follow-up: If a reporter calls with a question, be responsive. If you need to do additional research to answer the question, let the reporter know when you plan to get back in touch. Always be mindful of the reporter’s deadline.

Be persistent: If one reporter passes on the story, think of another angle on the topic to pitch to a different reporter or editor.  If trends in office leasing space aren’t of interest to the real estate editor, try a similar pitch with a slightly different angle – maybe something about emerging company office needs geared to the business editor

The news media can’t possibly know everything that is happening in your market. You can help a busy reporter understand key market issues and trends and get attention for your small business at the same time by being a knowledgeable, reliable and responsive resource.

What are your experiences helping reporters with stories about your market?