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Mum’s The Boss talk: How businesses can harness the power of traditional print media

Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you can’t have not heard the increasing buzz over businesses building their public profile through engaging their existing customers and potential new ones through social media.

Underneath all this new-fangled noise and bluster though, if you listen very carefully you can still hear a constant older hum and it’s one which often provides the original content these digital channels so sorely need and consumers still rate surprisingly highly in terms of trust.

This older ‘hum’ was the subject of an informal talk – ‘How to harness the power of traditional media’ – I delivered to a 15-strong child-friendly networking group Mum’s The Boss, in Sheffield this Tuesday. As I explained to the group, even though social media is grabbing everyone’s attention, it’s the editorial content of traditional media, like magazines and newspapers, which still tend to set the news agenda and are likely to carry on doing so for some time to come.

I talked everyone through three simple steps towards gaining editorial coverage for their businesses: Step 1: Focus on your target media, Step 2: Uncracking the print media code (what makes titles tick & how consumers regard editorial) and in Step 3 I showed everyone a couple of articles I’d placed as a journalist and asked them to start thinking like editors…

Special mention goes to the ‘honourary’ female at the meeting, Jon Hilton, MD of Pulse Rate Training Ltd – and the first ever male attendee of Mum’s The Boss South Yorkshire!

Here’s 5 more top tips to help businesses create positive headlines:
• Great stories are media gold dust! Brands who understand the power of personal stories have more success connecting with their audience, being remembered and creating brand loyalty.
• If you don’t already know your target media, research it! Buy the title & study it or look at their online offer. If they have website, look on advertisers section as will have details about their audience demographic, official circulation figures and other useful info.
• When you’re ready to approach a title with your story, write a short, well-written and informative press release, include a photo & always email to a named journalist/section editor. Build connections with these journalists – you might not strike lucky at first but learn to understand what they’re looking for as they are the gatekeepers to unlocking great editorial coverage.
• In many national female consumer magazines (and some newspapers or trade titles) if you are talking about your personal story to highlight your business it’s often acceptable for your website details to be featured in the article. Many womens’ magazines also permit copy approval to interviewees (this will mean final version of the article will be read to you over the phone) – if in doubt, ask.
• Once your story is out in local press, be aware there is a good chance it will get picked up by national media – (this is how many national stories are still sourced by journalists).

So don’t believe the hype. Print isn’t dead (not quite yet anyway). And great editorial coverage still has immense value.

http://www.mumstheboss.co.uk/syorkshire/index

Ringing in the new decade with a commercial bang

With the New Year just days old, I can appreciate why many of us, sick of our austerity-ridden times, can’t wait to herald in a bright new, shiny decade of hopes, dreams and promises with a flurry of fireworks (even though we apparently haven’t decided what these ‘inbetween’ years will be called yet!)

While I’m not blinded by this starry-eyed thinking, I’m more than ready to look to this inspirational light in my professional life. I’d be deep in SBO territory(stating the bleeding obvious as my former ex-Fleet Street journalism tutor would quip) if I told you the only way small business owners, sole traders and freelancers like myself can survive this economic fall-out is to adapt and diversify our skills and services to the ever-changing business landscape.

On top of this more general trend, during 2009 I watched the media industry I’ve worked solidly in for 12 years morph again and again. The emergence of free newspapers, rising tide of online news & entertainment, citizen journalism, the blogorati, social networking….

None of these elements alone are new threats to the status and security of traditional print journalists. But once the strength and combined measure of this heady mix is stirred, will many one-trick hacks be left too shaken? For some, this communications cocktail could be too much to stomach, or even prove lethal.

So, spurred on by my survival instincts, this week I’m launching a new strand to my business.

From now on, I’ll wear two writing hats – one will remain in journalism and the other will supply copywriting, PR, marketing and media consultancy services to the corporate world.

After completing a brilliant commercial writing course in November, run by Linda Jones and Carol Garrington of Passionate Media, my metaphorical pen is primed, precise and brimming over with purpose.

Here’s to a successful 2010 for all!

Small ripples are the new(s)-splash

There was a radical shift in the course of the history of the British newspapers last Friday. But when I heard about London’s Evening Standard morphing into a free newspaper, there seemed to be little in the way of big fanfares or ‘where were you when…’ sentimental posturings running through the majority of reports and commentary.

Instead, the tone was practical and forward-thinking. The old tried-and-tested newspaper model, which relied on people buying news in hard copy format, was on its last ink-smudged legs. Your crystal ball is as accurate as mine, but I still believe there will be survivors once this cull has run its course, especially amongst local papers who tap into the essentially-human instinct to feel part of a community.

Despite this possible kiss of life, who wouldn’t argue the death of the printed news has been hastened by a new breed of free commuter-friendly papers? But it’s our ever-increasing love affair with the internet which threatens to consign the once mighty bastions of Fleet Street to history.

It’s a prospect I feel torn over. As a devourer of hard copy national and local broadsheets and tabloids, part of me can’t imagine a world without them. Then again, I have to confess I’m as smitten with clicking and sharing news online, as the rest of the country – make that the world – seem to be. Confession: Where did I first get wind of the Evening Standard story? Via an online news alert message, of course. The news is dead, long live the news.com!

Citizen journalism and the rise of blogging has created a world where everyone’s free to make their individual unique ripples vibrate through the great rising wave of online communication. This print-eroding tide is anything but virtual – it’s become ingrained in the beating hearts and real Wi-Fi habits of the nation.

In this ever-changing multi-media world, a good splash will always be a good splash…even if you can’t read all about it in the bath.

Where does that leave me? Well, I’m swimming with the tide. My own ripples began with the creation of this blog. And now, after cataloging a wide range of articles I’ve written over the last 12 years, for a variety of magazines and newspapers, I’m now focusing on posting them online.

Check out the first examples by clicking on the link Published Work. More to follow in future posts.