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Shout about your business

Sara Davies discusses the importance of building good relationships with the media

A great way to reach your audience is through trade and consumer magazines. When it comes to the craft industry, there's lots of great outlets your core customers will pick up and read and regularly visit online, so what better way to get your news and products in front of them?

Get to know your publications
So how do you go about getting into these publications? Where do you start? Well, the most important thing when it comes to working with industry publications is your relationship with them, so make sure you make time to nurture these all-important contacts.
Get a feel for each magazine, look at what they write about and what the magazine style is, and then speak to them about what topics they have coming up in future issues. Publications love fresh content more than ever so if you have something of value to offer than they might just be interested.
Work out how you can help each other. Their audience will far exceed any that you could reach with email, poster, flyer and social media activity alone, so it's easy to see what's in this for you, but what can you do for them? Do they need competition prizes, expert comments as part of a feature, news about product launches or educational projects? If you can build a relationship that is mutually beneficial, you'll reap the rewards.

Showcase your wares
The driving force behind every company is its customers, so it's important to make sure they know what's new in your business and what you have planned going forward - after all they're the ones who are going to buy your products!
Build up a rapport with editors and work alongside them to create content and having great imagery always helps. It's always a huge boost for your products if customers can see inspirational projects or craft ideas, so think outside the box. Can you provide a step-by-step for making an item that are relevant to the magazine's readers? And, could you offer the magazine a reader giveaway or discount code as part of this?

Well informed
Organise for regular press releases to go out and make sure you're reaching the trade and consumer press and keeping them up to date with new products, trends and company news. Make sure your content is informative, factual and not promotional. Industry magazines should be the first to know about new launches because this is where potential stockists are most likely to see them, so bear this in mind and keep your press contacts in the loop.
There are also some 'don't do's' when it comes working with magazines. Most importantly, only send relevant information to your contacts. For example, if you have a contact at a magazine, which covers sewing, then the launch of a new papercraft collection will be of little interest to them. This goes back to understanding the magazines you're working with them, so pick them up and read them yourself.

Keeping within deadlines
Whether you're securing content or contributing editorial content, there is good etiquette for working with journalists, which will help you build those all-important relationships. So, make sure you're meeting deadlines and providing them with what they need.
Make things as easy as possible for them. Follow any editorial guidelines that they've provided, stick to the word count and make sure the imagery you're providing is of high enough resolution to be used in print or online. All of this makes life easier for the journalist and will demonstrate that you're reliable, and easy-to-work with.
Additionally, you should always respond in a timely manner. Many journalists will be under extreme pressure and tight deadlines, so make sure you get back to them on any questions so be prepared to help them out where you can, perhaps with interview opportunities or Q&A sessions. If they know that you're helpful and responsive, they're more likely to want to work with you and come to you with future opportunities.
Once you've worked with a publication on a number of projects and built up a strong relationship, you could even consider offering to provide a regular feature or comment piece. If you have consistently provided quality content that its readers engage with, the magazine might be open to the idea of featuring you more often.
One thing to always discuss when liaising with a publication is exactly what is involved, so as well as finding out what they need, find out when the piece will go to print and in which edition. Many publications will also promote the story or feature across its social media platforms too, so find out if that's likely, after all, you want to be able to share it on your own channels if they do.
If there's one thing to take away from me from this issue's column, it would be to never underestimate the importance of media publications, whether they be online or in print. Ultimately, they're the ones that can showcase your products, share your news, and connect your company to the right audience, so make sure you build a strong working relationship with them and work together to create content that will benefit both parties.

Sara Davies is a Durham-born craft entrepreneur and the founder of Crafter's Companion. For further information, visit www.crafterscompaniontrade.co.uk.

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