How To Get Media Coverage For Your Business

By Gordon Oliver
The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.

I was the only man in the room last Wednesday at the monthly meeting of the Women Entrepreneurs Organization of Clark County.

I had no complaints, but I had to wonder what advice about the news business I could offer these hardworking women whose business ventures ranged from tatoo artist to real estate broker.

I was part of a media panel with Cindy Johnson of the Vancouver Business Journal and Dawn Feldhaus of the Camas-Washougal Post-Record.

Moderator Chandra Chase of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce posed three questions, which I paraphrase: What are tips for getting what she called “earned media” — an article in the newspaper? What mistakes do women entrepreneurs make in trying to get coverage about their businesses? And how has the Internet changed what stories get covered?

Straightforward questions, with not-so-simple answers.

The news business is hot and cold — some days are stuffed with news, while on others we worry about how to fill all the white space on a page.

So the threshhold for breaking into print (and columbian.com) varies from one day to the next. No surprise. It’s not that we don’t have standards — plenty of suggested stories are too small, too insignificant, or too irrelevant to make the cut even on the slowest of days. But between that low place and the obvious news stories lie plenty of gray areas requiring day-to-day decisions.

Before discussing mistakes in pitching stories, I offer my thanks to the entrepreneurs, both men and women, who reach out with story ideas. We love to hear them. We can’t be everywhere, and our readers and small businesses are our eyes and ears.

The mistakes come from not understanding The Columbian’s frame of reference. Our franchise is local — in most cases, that means Clark County, not Portland.

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