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Breaking down the media’s priorities for SMEs


In order to generate mainstream media coverage for your business, you need detailed knowledge of how much priority they’ll give you. The reality is that for small business, it’s limited. Don’t let that dissuade you from getting in contact with a journalist, instead let it inform how you go about it. 

Think of the media’s priority like an aeroplane. There are three classes in which a passenger can travel (or receive coverage): first, business and economy. Although unlike an airline, first class news coverage is not desirable.

First Class Stories

These are stories that simply cannot wait to be broadcast. Media organisations rush to report the events without knowing full detail. The story develops as the coverage continues, with new (or corrected) information being injected throughout. The knifing of a Prime Minister or a terrorist attack being two examples.

As a small business you don’t want to find yourself in this space, unless you stuff-up or a journalist has found some dirt on you or your business you won’t be. If suddenly journalists are in contact at a rate-of-knots, be cautious and brace for it. Typically though, if you’re not corrupt, dodgy or a charlatan you’ll be fine.

Business Class Stories

Business class stories are important to know but you don’t have to know them right away. The slashing of 180 jobs at a regional company is big news but not many need to know it ASAP. The media will take a more considered approach to this coverage and time will be given to research and fact check before a story is broadcast.

It’s possible to get media traction here but your story must have wider appeal and for a small business that’s doubtful.

Economy Class Stories

Ever seen a Kim Kardashian story during prime time news? Congratulations, you’ve not only wasted your time but witnessed an economy class story. These stories appeal to some but not others. Like an aeroplane, most media will be seating down back in economy. These stories fill a void and supplement First and Business Class stories – providing colour to offset the more heavy-hitting news.

This does not mean your media is consigned to row 140 near the toilet, economy class stories can still get great media exposure. Since the emergence of the digital age, news rooms have changed. News coverage is expected (and wanted) 24 hours a day, yet journalism numbers are shrinking.

This means fewer journalists are required to do more work. For you, this is a great outcome. Journalists are searching for economy class stories because fortunately there aren’t enough disasters to fill a whole news service.

Your opportunity for media coverage is here. Producing economy class stories should be easy. Remember, your media story is not about you or your product, it’s about how it benefits consumers of that media. If you sell the narrative and not the brand or product, half the job is done.

Find journalists from your area (location or business) and start producing appealing content for them – the more different your story is, the more it’s of interest. Don’t go all out crazy though, it has to be understandable.

Journalists are looking for economy class stories. Stop their search with you.

[Editor’s note: this is the latest instalment in Luke Buesnel’s ongoing series looking at the relationship between small businesses and the media. He previously wrote ‘Old school’ thinking won’t cut it in the digital age and Four steps to building relationships with journalists for Dynamic Business.]

About the author:

Luke_BuesnelLuke Buesnel is an experienced journalist and political media advisor with an interest in small business issues and trends. Luke is the Founder and Director of Real Media Management. Twitter – @RMM_Luke