We never subscribed to the newspaper when I was growing up. We hung up on Valley News telemarketers, and weren’t really allowed to watch television so the local broadcast news never got much airplay in our living room either.
Yet, when I started reporting and editing at my college paper, my family shelled out for a mail subscription. When The Twin Towers fell on 9/11, we relied on broadcast coverage of the unfolding attacks for hours upon hours. And when, an old high school classmate of mine set an ice-climbing record scaling Mount McKinley, my mother mailed me the online printout of the story.
Why? Because when something is closely tied to a loved one; when its impact is profound; or when a story affects a community, people turn to media outlets to stay connected.
No matter how out of touch we may become with the day-to-day matters of our global, national, regional and local communities, we all rely on the media to hold our hand and explain to us what the heck is going on at some point or another. This is especially true within our business communities for those of us who are trying to stay ahead of competition and new technology.
So my heart aches every time I hear about a new round of layoffs or furloughs sweeping through the media industry. Not only are good people losing jobs, but news media organizations must figure out how to provide the same quality product with smaller staffs.
It is difficult, but they are doing it. And you, humble business owner can help by offering to share your thoughts and expertise, at no cost, with the readers and viewers of local news outlets. It’s hard work and you won’t get paid, but penning a column for a local print outlet, or lining up appearances for a local news broadcaster can be one of the best things for your business.
Say, for example, your organization is planning a large event, conference or webinar on the topic of leadership and growth strategies. A regular column under your byline that explores topics such as “creating an authentic culture” and “cultivating leaders within your organization” can help you generate local and regional awareness leading up to your event.
Coupled with a branded social media, online and email marketing campaign, your column can provide a powerful, authentic voice to help you fill seats, nail down top-notch speakers and generate even further media coverage for your event.
To score a column or recurring guest appearance, first pitch the editor or producer your idea. Keep it fresh, and make sure there’s actually a lack of coverage on the topic that you’d be filling.
When you finally get down to the business of writing a column, here is a great tip straight from the lion’s den. In the words of a local business editor here in Nashville, when writing a column…
“Don’t be afraid to try new story forms—whether it’s a list format, a Top 10 or a Q&A of some sort, readers like variety and it’s good to vary styles occasionally to keep people engaged. (Plus, those unique story forms make it interesting for our designers, too!)”
Have more tips to share about creating memorable columns and TV appearances? Leave them in the comments below.