Frustrated because your competitor was featured in the local paper, again?

Do you wonder why the local paper always seems to contact your competitors and not you? Chances are, if you’re not reaching out to reporters on a fairly regular basis, they are not going to reach out to you when they need help.

In reality, there are probably a few easy things your competitors are doing on a consistent basis to keep their name in front of reporters—things that you can do easily, too. Let’s take a look at some of those ways and talk about how you can integrate them into your marketing efforts.

Consistently send press releases. Press releases are the main way companies communicate story ideas with the press. A press release is a written statement distributed to the media. This written statement has a standard format and is presented to the media in a consistent manner from company to company. Usually about one page in length, a press release announces what’s going on in your specific business, or even your industry, and presents it to reporters in a newsworthy way. Local papers like to use local companies in their stories, so a great way for you to be featured is to talk about something going on nationally and show how it affects readers locally.

Do something that is newsworthy in order to get the attention of the press. Let your imagination take control here; there are no right or wrong answers. Some great ideas I’ve seen lately are practitioners copying reality shows, such as Extreme Makeover or The Biggest Loser, and having in-house contests. Some of my coaching clients have had great success with these because they are fun for patients, and the press can take national shows and tie them into a local angle easily.

Send press releases once a month or more. Even if the papers don’t run your story ideas, when something does come up and they need to interview someone for a quote, you may be just the practitioner that comes to mind. Repetition is the key and may be why your competitor is featured so often and you are not—because their name is consistently in front of the reporter and yours isn’t.

One last thing about writing press releases: Keep in mind that journalists are very, very busy and are bombarded by sometimes hundreds of press releases a day. Journalists are looking for news to inform and educate their readers (news that sells subscriptions and advertisements). Reporters are in no way interested in anything you have to sell. They are interested in how something educates or informs readers, is important to their lifestyle or has moral or social importance, is unusual, entertaining, would cause people to talk about it or pertains to local issues or trends.

Keep reporters and their needs in mind as you brainstorm newsworthy promotions and develop press releases. The reporter has to sell the story to his boss, who has to sell subscriptions. They are looking for businesses to help them meet their goals—not help you achieve yours.

About the author
Kelly Robbins, M.A., is an award-winning copywriter and health-care marketing coach/consultant. She is the founder of A Marketing Connection and The Copywriting Institute, and also publishes The Healthcare Marketing Connection, a free e-zine on health-care marketing tips. Contact Robbins to receive her free report, “5 Critical Mistakes Healthcare Marketers Make that Lose Sales and Plummet Profits” at or (303) 460-0285.

© 2008, A Marketing Connection