On Thursday November 22, I attended the Globe & Mail Small Business Summit at the MaRS Discovery District – http://toronto.smallbusiness-summit.ca/ . It was a great day full of insight and networking, I would recommend you attend next year.
Often, I’m asked by small business owners on how to get their name “out-there” and get some PR or media coverage. Of course, on a limited budget, this can be difficult. Well, one of the session’s at the Small Business Summit was a “Dragon’s Den-Like” panel consisting of Globe and Mail Small Business Editor Sean Stanleigh, Ivor Tossell , tech journalist and Marivel Taruc, CBC news broadcaster.
The purpose of this session was to understand how to pitch your business or idea to a media outlet, be it web, print or TV and get some media coverage. There were 5 entrepreneurs that were pitching their business.
Each pitch was given 3 minutes! That’s it! And they had to do it in front of the panel and approximately 250 people!
Money was not the reward for the winning pitch, instead, it was a feature story in the Globe & Mail Small Business section.
I commend all the participants for pitching their businesses; not an easy task to stand there and get critiqued. The panel gave some great feedback and below I captured 4 main points.
How-to-Pitch Your Business to the Media
1) Relevance to current news stories
If you can tie your business into a current story in the news (past or future stories work too), it gives the media outlet more reason to consider your business because they can tie it to that lead story and “ride-the-wave”. For example, perhaps you are a software company that develops voting software for elections. If there was a news story about voting mishaps during a recent election, that gives your business some leverage.
2) Hard numbers
Making statements out of thin-air does not help your cause. If you say you are the largest distributor of baseball gloves in Canada, you better have some hard unbiased stats that show this. The media is in the business of reporting – truthful and honest reporting. So, you can’t make claims that are business goals, they have to be reality. The media’s reputation is on the line.
3) What makes you different
Media outlets, according to this panel, get hundreds of requests for stories per month. To be able to “sell” their respective stories, they want to provide fresh stories to their audience that are unique. So, if you can identify why YOUR BUSINESS is different, that will put you ahead of the other hundreds of requests. Perhaps you make custom jewellery, but you use materials from developing communities around the world (like www.imoniq.com). This can be distinctive because your business is supporting developing entrepreneurial communities around the world – a sense of social entrepreneurialism.
4) Identify some challenges
Don’t pretend your business is perfect and has no challenges or competitors. Remember, media wants to tell a story, so, if your small business isn’t strong enough to hold a story on its own, identify the problem and challenges surrounding it. This way the media outlet can introduce your business by telling a story about those problems and challenges facing the community or society in general. For example, perhaps you provide counseling to youth. If you identified trends about kids who are experiencing anxiety, perhaps, if you connected your business to “bullying” in schools, you could get some traction.
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