Who would look to mainstream media for business promotion in this day and age?

Newspapers? Dinosaurs. Living on past glories with plunging circulations. An irrelevance.

TV? Unless it’s on Netflix or YouTube, I’m not watching.

Radio? Who listens to that? Especially those local programmes.

Besides we’ve got our Facebook page, and sometimes we Tweet out pictures of the Friday afternoon office cakes. And doesn’t the boss search for jobs on LinkedIn?

If any of the above ring bells for your organisation you’re missing a prime opportunity to promote your business – and defend it when needed.

Mainstream media (did anyone use that phrase before Donald J?) may be changing, driven forward by the social upstart snapping at its heels, but it would be a mistake to discount it from your business promotion and publicity plans.

I can name seven ways in which business can benefit from cultivating a positive relationship with the media.

While firms of every size obviously want to talk directly with customers and community through social media, that shouldn’t be their only means of communication.

Reach outside your bubble

Firstly, it can limit who they have conversations with to those who already have some relationship with them, be they customers, employees, followers or fans. Great to have that engaged audience, but limited scope to reach outside the bubble.

Secondly, while you understandably want to shout about your wonderful product, service or staff, people expect that you’re going to do that. Not many businesses go on social media to lament their own failings and castigate John in Distribution for his shortcomings as an employee.

Being picked up by mainstream media offers that serendipity of introducing you to someone who previously knew nothing of your amazing offerings. In addition it provides the credibility of an independent evaluation of your work.

There’s an obvious business benefit from having that outside credibility check.  We live in an era when an enterprising mischief maker can blag his way to number one in Trip Advisor’s London restaurant ratings – when he didn’t even have a restaurant.

Here’s my not-so-secret seven ways that the media can aid your business promotion, whether you’re micro or macro, service or product, start up or mature, family or PLC run.

      1. Building profile

Every business needs a profile. There are very few firms wanting to grow that can simply open the doors and customers flock through. You may have the best product/service/ fancy new widget – but unless you tell people about them, how are they to know?

  1. Report successes

Not just in a ‘hey look at me, aren’t I great’ kind of way. If you’ve expanded or taken on new staff, won a new contract or award you should be maximising the heck out of that success to start off the next success. Let those in your community in on the secret, let investors see your innovative working methods, let potential customers know that when it comes to this particular field, you’re the dogs.

  1. Enhance your reputation

It’s normal that businesses diversify their offer, either to grow or stay ahead of the market. You need a way to get across this shift. To continue growing you need others to see you’re changing and evolving. When you opened up it may have been enough – and suited both your budget and fraught timescale – to market your wares through social media. But there’s validation in seeing your name next to other big cheeses of the business world. Now we’re moving up to the next level of business promotion.

  1. Promote your agenda

A working relationship with the media can be a huge asset in promoting the world as you see it. Don’t agree with a government white paper about to change your industry? Think the local council’s planning policy will stifle job creation? Or do you want to be viewed as the leading expert in your field? If the media turn to you because you’re a reliable, informed and influential commentator, then it can only help your business aims.

  1. Inform potential customers and employees

Standing on an upside-down soapbox, shouting through a megaphone can only get you so far. All media have huge, engaged audiences and they’re just waiting to hear from you about how you’re going to transform their lives (maybe not, but you get the idea).
At some stage you’re likely to be hiring and when you do you want the best for your budget. A library of quality articles, broadcasts and other content shows off your business in its best light. It can be a persuasive aide in bringing in the best talent.

  1. Help in the bad times

Often forgotten this one. I’m not claiming having a good relationship with the media means they’ll turn a blind eye when your factory falls down or your cakes poison the neighbourhood. But journalists tend to remember who’s helped them out.
Put it this way. Who would you be most likely to listen to, someone you’d talked to and built a professional relationship with? Or someone you were hearing from for the first time who normally failed to return your calls.
At the very least if someone makes allegations against your business and you move into crisis communications mode, the journalist will know who to call. None of that damning ‘the company was unavailable to comment’ nonsense.

  1. Keep your competitor out of the limelight

And to round it off. There’s column inches, airtime and web space that needs to be filled with content. Who would you rather it be about. You? Or the competitor down the road who’s now set to take your business and eat your lunch.

So that’s my seven.

What have I missed? I’d love to hear if you’ve got anything to add to the list. How has working with the media helped you?

Not everyone has a positive media experience to relate, so get in touch if you’ve a counter story. What are the downsides to working with the media?

If you want to join one of my workshops for more practical advice on working with the media, writing for the media or handling crisis communications, then I post dates on here or get in touch.