8 Ways to Get Your Name in the Newspaper

March 1, 2007

Seasoned newspaper editor Joan Stewart knows what it takes to get your name in the paper without charge. In fact, she’s made a second career of it. Her 12-year-old company, The Publicity Hound, in Port Washington, Wis., helps businesses of all sizes get noticed by the media. She offers these tips:

1. Establish a rapport. Make a list of all newspapers in your area and get the names of reporters who write about real estate. Simply call or e-mail those journalists and offer yourself as a source for their articles, whether it’s for commentary or background. Ask them, “How can I help you?”

2. Emphasize your expertise. Do you know how to stage homes? Are you an expert on rental properties? Let reporters know about it. You’ll be the person they call when they’re on deadline and need a quote from an expert.

3. Pitch story ideas even if they don’t involve you. As a real estate practitioner, you’re tuned in to the local buzz. If you hear about a unique new development or spot an interesting trend, let your new friend at the newspaper know about it. Reporters appreciate story tips. By pitching worthwhile article ideas, you’ll build trust.

4. Don’t appear self serving. Say you’ve been playing a major role in a local organization’s food drive. It wouldn’t hurt to get some media coverage. But rather than pitch the story yourself, suggest that the nonprofit group approach the newspaper. Reporters will be more likely to pursue a story if it’s not coming from a company that’s looking for the spotlight.

5. Never say “no comment.” The phrase is abrasive and makes it look as if you had something to hide. From a reporter’s perspective, it shows you’re not willing to be cooperative. You can’t run for cover when controversy arises and then expect media coverage when everything is going your way.

6. Create photo opportunities. A great photo can move a story from the back of a newspaper to the front page. But we’re not talking about ribbon cuttings. Remember the three things that make a great newspaper photo: people, colors, and action. Hire a magician for the opening of a new brokerage office and tie it in with a theme, “Let us create magic for you.” Or to get noticed at a food drive, have people from your company pack boxes with food rather than pose with a pile of donations.

7. Be accessible. Let reporters know you’ll be available for their calls, even if it’s after regular business hours. Make sure they know how to reach you when you’re not at your office.

8. Gear press releases to consumers. Even if you plan to submit the release to local media, you’ll want to write it with consumers as your audience. This will demonstrate to the media that you understand the value your news would have for their audience. This is also important to keep in mind if you archive your press releases online, where any Web surfer (aka prospect) may stumble upon them.