August is traditionally a slow news month, which makes it an opportune time to connect with journalists and get positive press for your business. Learn how here.

Research media targets. Reporters, editors and their respective media outlets are the “buyers” in the public relations game. To sell them on your story, you need to understand them. “Spend time doing the research to find out about the types of stories they cover and the reporters and editors who are responsible for them,” says Michelle Ellis, partner at Orapin Marketing + Public Relations.  

Pitch newsworthy content. With a firm understanding of the media outlets, you’ll be better positioned to present them with coverage ideas that will appeal to their audience. Perhaps you just crafted a promotional campaign for a prominent local non-profit’s fundraiser that helped the organization generate significant dollars. Such a success could interest area media. Whatever you pitch, “it needs to be timely,” says Ellis.

Keep it short and simple. Whether you’re sending a press release, a more informal email or calling, you need to be able to get a reporter's attention quickly. Think of it as your elevator pitch. Quickly show why the reporter should care.

Be a source. Even if your news alone doesn't merit coverage, you can still earn media placements if you are willing to be a reliable source for reporters, who could include your input in larger stories. “If you know,” says Ellis, “that there are industry- or community-wide topics the press is covering that you could speak on, make yourself available.”

In The News

Kotis Design (asi/244898) is no stranger to positive press. Executives from the Seattle-based distributorship have been quoted in pieces that have appeared everywhere from The New York Times to Inc. magazine.

Still, the media placement that generated the most business-building impact for Kotis was an article that ran this spring in The Seattle Times. The piece was a highly flattering profile that discussed Kotis’ decade-long ascent from a plucky start-up to an $18 million promotional products powerhouse with 85 employees. “We got crazy publicity from it,” says President/Founder Jeff Becker. “We’ve had many, many people reach out to us because of the article.”

The coverage happened rather organically. A decade earlier, The Seattle Times profiled Becker and fellow Kotis executive Nicolay Thomassen when they were two recent University of Washington grads working hard to grow the new business. This year, Eric Hamlin, Kotis’ vice president of sales, sent the newspaper an email essentially asking if it would like to follow-up on that piece. He included information about Kotis’ monumental success; editors’ ears went up. “They liked that we’re an innovative company,” says Becker.