Small Business Saturday is just a few weeks away and chambers are beginning to spread the word to “Shop Small” in communities across the nation. Spread your message wider and gain some great visibility for the chamber and your members by presenting the perfect pitch for a Small Business Saturday story to your local media.
Pitching a story to your local media for Small Business Saturday coverage is probably going to be one of the easier pitches you’ll put out there. There’s a pretty good chance they are covering the story anyway. As a chamber, this is a great opportunity for you to get your voice, and the voice of your small business members into the media mix.
Pitching Versus Press Release
Perhaps, you already do a press release. That’s great. But if you want to increase the level of the coverage, you need to bump up your efforts. What I am talking about is preparing a full scale pitch to your local media. It will require a little more preparation on your part, but, if successful, the payoff will be well worth the effort.
The Human Element
Storytelling is a popular journalistic style. It helps readers, viewers and listeners better understand, relate to and remember the facts and other details being delivered. And journalists, digital, print and broadcast, strive to find real people to feature in their pieces to help support that storytelling style.
Do some legwork in advance to identify a few members who would make great interviews for a Shop Small story. Think about your news media’s audience, not yours. Which small businesses in your membership would make for interesting characters? Do you have a member that is selling locally-made products? Do you have a small retailer that specializes in toys? Think about which members would be appealing to local shoppers in search of the perfect holiday gifts.
Oh yeah, and you also want to make sure your selected members are supportive of the Small Business Saturday concept. Do you have a member that has seen positive results from the campaign?
Contact those members in advance to let them know you would like to include them in your pitch. Gather information on the best way to reach them on Small Business Saturday so you can pass that on to the local media.
Tell Them Where To Go
The member or members who are featured in the story will certainly gain some great visibility, but you want to do everything you can to route the media outlet’s readers, viewers and/or listeners to other members who would benefit from Small Business Saturday shoppers.
You could set up a special “Shop Small” page on your website with links to your small retail members and provide that link to your media contacts. That will come in handy for chamber promotions as well. If that’s unrealistic in the timeframe you are working with, at minimum, make sure you provide the media with the link to the chamber’s business directory.
Serve on the Frontline
Placing your members in the spotlight is a good thing, but Small Business Saturday offers a great opportunity for the chamber to have a media presence as well. Don’t just stand on the sidelines and cheer for your members, get out on the frontline and be heard. Have some data available on small retail in your community and be prepared to be interviewed on how important it is for local consumers to support small businesses.
You never know when the reporter is going to be assigned to cover the story. Make yourself available for an interview in advance or on Small Business Saturday itself. Provide contact information for the media to reach you when it is convenient for them.
Pitching doesn’t need to be a formal process. If you have good relationships with your local media it may be as simple as a phone call to the reporter that typically covers local business stories. If you are sending the pitch by email, keep it succinct. The pitch doesn’t need a lot of background, just a brief introduction and the “hook” to entice them to get back in touch with you. Watch the promos that your local television news airs and use the same style of writing they use to hook viewers, to hook your media contacts.
A pitch for a local Small Business Saturday story might look something like this.
On November 23, shoppers nationwide will show their support for small retailers on Small Business Saturday.
Here in (your town), (number) of small businesses will greet customers on what has become the kickstart of the holiday shopping season for small retailers.
But is Small Business Saturday really making a difference? One long-time local retailer says unequivocally, “Yes!”
I would be happy to connect you with that small business owner and others to help support any Small Business Saturday coverage you are planning. Contact me at (your contact info).
Send your pitch a few weeks in advance. If you don’t hear from your media contact, follow up with a phone call on the Monday or Tuesday prior to Small Business Saturday.
Of course, there is no guarantee that your local media will take your pitch and run with it, but Small Business Saturday offers a great opportunity for positive coverage, so why not try to take advantage of the opportunity and insert your chamber and your members into the news cycle. The more prepared you are with the background and resources your local media need to tell a great Small Business Saturday story, the more likely you are to generate a successful media pitch.