Are you struggling to get the spotlight for your cooking business? Using traditional media channels may be the solution to get more people to buy and sell online locally.
What is media coverage?
Media coverage involves featuring in any media publication, whether online or on TV. For your business this could include an international, national or local media outlet that tells a story about your cooking business or uses your cooking business to tell a story.
Journalists are looking for public interest stories (sometimes refereed to as human interest stories), these would be things that you would tell friends down at the local pub, this is a good rule to keep in mind when brainstorming ideas about your cooking business that might be newsworthy.
Advertising vs Editorial piece
There are two different type of stories media outlets run about small business. Advertising and Editorial pieces. Both are great for grabbing the attention of an audience.
Advertising is when you pay for an article about your business, these are often referred to as advertorials. When you pay for an advertorial, you control the way your business is portrayed. If you pay for an advertorial piece, it is key to remember that a story still has to be told, and there needs to be transparency that there is money exchanged. This generally falls on the shoulders of the news outlet.
TIP: Take some time to work out your business's objectives ahead of approaching an outlet for an advertising piece. Think about the audience of the outlet and the results you hope to gain from the article.
Editorial is when a piece is written about your business for free for the public interest. You have little minimal control over what is written about your business. However, this should not scare you from having editorial content about your food/cooking business. In fact, editorial pieces are a great way to raise awareness for your business, grow your customer base and increase your sales.
Why should it be part of my promotion strategy?
Media coverage has been a successful method of promoting a business for as long as media has been around. Media coverage presents a win-win opportunity for you and the media outlet covering your food/cooking business. Media coverage from traditional outlets has many benefits such as connecting with an established and engaged local audience.
How do I start generating media coverage?
Identify your outlets - start with smaller local organisations as they are more likely to take a story that presents itself to them.
You can also identify a ‘dream scenario’ outlet that could be a state-wide or even a nationwide media outlet, although remember that small businesses are better covered by smaller more local news outlets and it is more likely that the audience of your local news will become customers of yours.
Crafting your story
The first step is to think about your unique story. Some ideas you could work with are:
- Your connection with the local community i.e. your story, and any unique aspects.
- The type of food you provide–why is it so special? Maybe all your food is gluten-free, or perhaps it is all locally sourced.
- You are serving a group of people and making their life better (Elderly people, people with disability, people affected by natural disasters).
- What you are passionate about ie making your food accessible, allowing families to connect over food etc.
- Possible local collaborations you are doing/have planned with other local businesses.
Who do I approach?
Look up your local news outlet online to see what journalists are consistently writing articles that fit in the lifestyle category or are consistently writing about small businesses.
Have a look at some recent copies to see what journalist is writing these types of lifestyle articles.
You can track down their contact details via searching online (either via the publication's website or via Google)
TIP: See if the journalist has a preferred method of contact. If they do - great! Use whatever method of communication is preferred. If not listed, assume an email is the preferred contact method.
How do I reach out?
- An authentic email to your contact is how most journalists would like to be approached.
- Make sure the email is personalised & shows insights into them and the stories they’ve written previously – avoid bulk emails.
- Don’t be afraid to follow the email up with a phone call - this is how most interviews are conducted now anyway, as face-to-face is too expensive.
- Including customer quotes are powerful and also indicates that a person is willing to validate your offering – these must be directly from the customer, so it is worth investing in reaching out to the right ones.
- If you own high-quality photos of yourself or something related to the news story you want to tell, include them in an email. It is possible that having access to those high-quality images is more likely to get a story published.
What should I say?
Writers block? No need to worry - we have pulled together examples for you below…
Dear [Journalist Name]
I read your article about food shortages and quality food getting to those who need it most in [The Media Outlet]. I thought you might like to know about a new service we have started recently, delivering reasonably priced, freshly made meals to households all over [this area].
This service was also designed to lighten the load of busy families by providing delicious and nutritious meals. With everyone increasingly working long hours, having lots of school commitments and jam-packed weekends, it is becoming harder to put great food on the table, and that is why we want to help.
\All of our meals are prepared from scratch, using fresh and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible – including gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan/vegetarian options. Our menus will rotate so there will be always something new but also include the staples that everyone knows and loves.
As a hospitality business we have had to work extra hard over the last two years to keep our staff employed and we have recently started this new (we say innovative!) regular once-a-week service as a way to serve our local community, to keep our staff employed and to showcase and support our local producers.
We can give you the name of some customers, some pictures of our food and whatever else you may need.
Hoping to hear from you,
[Your name] [Your business]
Dear [Journalist Name]
I hope this message finds you well
I am just following up on my previous e-mail about how the service I have created delivers reasonably priced, freshly made meals to households all over [the area you operate in].
We are wanting to get the message out to [the desired audience] that [potential story ie. NDIS participants can now enjoy delicious home-made meals].
This is one aspect of the business that would make a great story, we have plenty of other interesting facets of our business. If you'd like to ask any questions you can e-mail me here or I am happy to do a phone interview.
Hoping to hear from you,
[Your name [Business name]
Collaborate with local media
Collaboration competition is also an effective way to strengthen a relationship with a media outlet that simultaneously gets your business name out to the public.
i.e. Offering to sponsor a promotion such as $100 voucher for a competition – this is a great visual of this. Check out the example here.
Remember relationships first
Creating and maintaining a quality relationship with local journalists is key to regularly gaining media coverage. Don’t be disheartened if your first outreach does not eventuate to an article, remember relationships take time. We suggest cultivating relationships with these journalists as it is an effective way to be ‘front of mind’ should there ever be a last-minute story opportunity or they require a comment regarding a story they may be working on.
Here are some more ways to start building relationships with local media:
- Gifting - they say a good meal is a way to the heart, so what better way to start building relationships than sharing what you do best - creating delicious quality food, this is a sure way to stand out.
- Regular Outreach - Get in touch with local journalists whenever you have something new (or newsworthy!) to talk about, perhaps a new offering or a great customer story.
- Keep up to date - When pursuing coverage from a certain journalist or outlet make sure to pay attention to the pieces they are writing to see what type of stories they tend to feature. For extra points you could also let them know in your outreach that you enjoyed one of their recent pieces.
Below is an article written about one of our cooks Natasha. Read the article
Bring a captivating story to the right journalist to maximise the chance of having a story written about your food business.
Build meaningful relationships with local journalists, so you are front of mind if they need a food business for a story.