Updated: Mar 18
Today, you're hearing from one of our amazing expert speakers from the Empowered Petpreneur Interview Series, Rachel Spencer. She's a publicity expert FOR the pet industry and she has some great tips for you on how to win media coverage for your pet business!
Here we go!
As pet industry entrepreneurs, it’s vital that your clients and future customers are aware of who you are and what you do.
But how do you manage this without feeling like you never switch off?
One way to reach people time and time again without feeling frazzled is through media coverage which lets you talk to your customers 24/7.
Featuring in a newspaper, magazine, website or TV or radio show gives you access to thousands, potentially millions of people.
And the great news is that’s it’s not something you have to do every day or even every week or month - the only work you do is the initial pitch or press release and interview.
If you feature on a website, it’s evergreen content that people will find when they search for you and your business and it will serve you for years, even decades into the future.
It can be a little daunting, but with this ten step process, it doesn’t have to be.
I’ve helped hundreds of pet businesses, charities and brands feature in the media and if you follow these tips, you can do the same!
1. Work out what is the most interesting story in your business
Think of what someone completely outside of your business and industry might find interesting.
Editors and journalists only want to hear about things that are newsworthy.
Their readers will be from a huge cross section of society and they need to provide material that they will find interesting.
Maybe run some ideas by a colleague or friend who isn’t that interested in pets.
Let’s say you’re a dog walker. Someone who doesn’t know you won’t want to hear about you getting a new van for your clients or why you always put certain harnesses on the dogs.
But if you left a corporate job as a lawyer due to burnout and have now discovered mindfulness through your dog walking, that’s something many people - even those who don’t like dogs - would find interesting!
2. Research the publications you would like to be in
Spend an afternoon gathering different newspapers and magazines and researching news websites, TV shows, hyperlocal news websites.
Look at what they write about and articles they may have done with businesses similar to yours. Do they have a ‘Day in the Life’ slot or a ‘If I can’ or ‘Don’t tell me I can’t’ feature where people talk about the tenacity involved in their success?
These are the kind of features you could put yourself forward for.
3. Find the journalists on those publications who WILL be interested in you
Is there a writer who covers pets? Or a byline - that’s the name of the journalist at the top of the story - that you see over and over again on pet stories?
This is the person you should be pitching too. It sounds obvious I know, but you know they’re already interested in pets, so chances are they’ll want to hear from you.
4. Follow the journalists on social media
Twitter is the platform journalists use the most so follow them there.
Put together a Twitter list of journalists that you can check, and follow the #journorequest hashtag.
Build rapport by liking their posts and being helpful.
This means they’ll remember your name and when you send an e mail, they’ll be more likely to read it and respond.
5. Ensure you have everything you need to make your story work
So often I’m sent stories with great big holes in them. There are no professional photos, or statistics to prove a claim that the story is making.
One example is a recent study here in the UK about people having Pet Nups, which is where custody of a pet is written into a pre-nup.
This story would need an example of a couple who had one to make it interesting and newsworthy enough for an editor to publish.
6. Keep it short and sweet
Put together a concise pitch of what the story is about in no more than 200 words.
Send one relevant photograph to show them the person in the story, so this might be you or a client.
Editors and journalists like to see who the story is about. Let them know more photos/video are available.
7. Call the office
Ideally you will have found the contact details for the person you want to send your press release or story idea to.
But if you haven’t, then the best thing to do is call the office and explain you have a story for a particular section or journalist and ask for their e mail address.
Don’t send an e mail to news@ or stories@ or info@ as they don’t get monitored regularly.
Be prepared to be put through and speak to the person, as sometimes the switchboard will do this.
8. Send your pitch
Always include your phone number and be prepared for the journalist to ring you straight away.
Work out in your mind what you want to say and keep it concise.
Don’t be nervous, most journalists are normal people and not scary as they can sometimes be portrayed on TV shows!
All they want is interesting stories to share with their readers.
9. Do the interview and be interesting!
I know this sounds so obvious - but some people try to be serious and stuffy and journalists can’t stand this!
So help yourself build a positive relationship moving forward by being interesting.
Be yourself and don’t be corporate, use jargon or be too selly.
Final tip - you will be asked for personal details like your age, relationship status, how many children or pets you have.
One thing I’m finding a lot of late is people being awkward about sharing their age - how old you are is relevant and newspapers always include ages (in the UK) as it helps readers relate to the person.
It can change the context of a story too. Let’s say you ran a marathon for a dog charity. I think that’s impressive at any age, but if you were 93, that would be much more newsworthy.
10. Say thank you
Another really obvious thing you would think? But journalists rarely get a thank you and if you do this you will stick in their mind!
Once the story or piece appears, e-mail to say thank you! Better still, send a card or if you have a product business, send them your product as a gift.
BONUS: If they don’t ring or respond, don’t be disheartened. It’s ok to send an e mail a few days later to see if it was of interest.
People are busy. If you chase it up and they say no, or if don’t place your story, remember you can use it as content for your newsletter, e mail, blog and social media, so it’s not gone to waste.
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful and if you follow them, I would love to know how you get on.
You can find me on social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn at @rachelspenceruk. There is also more advice on my website here.
There you have it! I hope that was helpful for you. Publicity is one topic that gets brought up in my Facebook Group and since it's not my expertise, I found the expert for you! Have questions?? Head on over to the group and let's support one another with advice and feedback!
ALSO, even though the live series is over, you can still purchase your Access Pass to the Empowered Petpreneur Interview Series. You'll get access to all 20 interviews, which go over how to grow your pet business confidently and with ease. Click here to get your Access Pass!