Major media placements can be a boon to entrepreneurs. They increase brand awareness, build credibility, and generate massive amounts of traffic and sales. To give you a competitive advantage, below is a step-by-step checklist that teaches you how to go about securing media coverage without spending tens of thousands of dollars on hiring a PR firm or onboarding a freelance publicist.  

Newsworthiness

The best way to start planning for any publicity campaign is to determine what makes you and your business newsworthy. Consider whether your service or business area is trending in the news. If not, then examine what is relevant and timely in your industry or on the local news. Is there any controversy or conflict that you can credibly weigh in on? Is there an event, new product or service, book launch, new location, or even a new hire that you can pitch as a newsworthy event? Answering these questions will give you a solid start to determining what makes your business newsworthy.

Credibility  

Now that you have what makes your business newsworthy, it’s time to look at what makes your business credible. In other words, what makes you and your business believable and trustworthy? Consider your academic and professional training and the types of media exposure you’ve generated for the speeches or talks you’ve given. Do you have a large audience, significant annual sales, or interesting and transformational life experiences? Any of these elements can help make you and your business more credible. 

Media Bio

Since I started in the PR field more than 15 years ago, I’ve had clients ask me if they should use their website bios as their media bios, and my answer is always the same: “no”. Your website bio is generally longer and contains your story about your journey, how you started your business, and anything else that’s relevant. These bios can reach 5,000 words, whereas your media bio is short and concise. This bio is short and usually only two or three paragraphs (including what you want others to know about you and your business).

Your Perfect Media List

With your media bio now complete, you can start looking at where your story can potentially fit. To find the right media, you can Google “Editorial Calendar” + Publication Name to see the editorial calendar of what stories are in the queue. And then, you can Google outlet name + masthead to find out which editors cover specific topics and stories.

You could also go to the website of the publication you would like to pitch, and go to the “Masthead”, “About” or “Contact” pages for a list of all of the editors and their related beats. You can also go to LinkedIn or Twitter to find a media contact. Most editors are also on Twitter.

Your Subject Line

When securing media coverage your subject line is the most important part of your pitch. It should be interesting, and if possible, generate an emotional response from your reader. You can make a provocative statement or ask a question, if you wish. Just be sure to include the who, what, where, when, why, and how. 

You’ll also want to start the subject line with what type of story you’re pitching – such as an interview, product review, feature story, article idea, etc. Here are two sample subject lines: one is good, and the other is not so. 

  • “ABC Company Announces the Launch of XYZ Product”
  • Feature: “From Small Ghetto to Fifth Avenue: How this Entrepreneur Built a Family Empire”

The second one helped secure media coverage on Forbes.com, JustLuxe.com, HuffingtonPost.com and more. 

The Pitch Itself

It doesn’t matter whether you’re pitching a footwear collection, a nightclub, or a software demo, you should consider tying your pitch to the current time of the year, or something trending in the news at that moment: the Oscars, Halloween, the latest viral video, etc. I find that tying product and service pitches to a specific time of the year gets more media interest because it’s timely.

When you pitch a journalist, you also need to make sure that your email conveys that you understand who the reader is, and what they are looking for. That’s how you gain rapport with members of the media. And although it’s a no-brainer, be sure to address your media contact specifically by their first name. Don’t start your email with a generic “Hi there” or “To whom it may concern”. Just because your email isn’t expected, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be personalized.

The body of your pitch should be between 200 and 300 words and devoted to telling a story about you and your brand. Add five to seven bullet points about your product or services that the reader can look over quickly. Remember, editors see the same generic pitches every day, so you have to make yours stand out. These five to seven bullet points should pop off the page. Without these bullets, your pitch will fall flat.

Pitch Follow Up

You’ve pitched your top media contacts, and you’re hoping for a positive response. The wait can seem like an eternity but resist any temptation to overwhelm your contact. It’s critical you are patient yet persistent.

Once you’ve pitched a media contact, only follow up three to four days later to see if they are interested in covering your story or doing an interview. If you don’t hear back right away, you can follow up one more time before pitching a new angle or product. But never call—unless you know the media contact personally.

If they don’t respond after two follow-ups, don’t be discouraged. Your company, brand, story, or product is simply not the right fit for any stories they are working on now. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in the future. You have to keep moving forward. I’ve pitched myself 10 or 15 times only to be rejected each time before finding success. If you are rejected, don’t let it get you down. It takes a thick skin to be successful. 

Securing Media Coverage With A Press Releases

You can issue a press release when you’re sending a message out to the general public via a wire service company. We usually issue them when a client is releasing a book or a new product, a live event, or to make some type of announcement.

Pitching Angles

Having a fresh set of pitching angles is essential to keeping your brand media-ready. However, coming up with consistently interesting pitching angles for yourself or your business can be tiring and tough. To eliminate this from happening, here are a few exercises you can do:

  • Give Quora.com a visit to see what people are asking about in your niche.
  • Do keyword research on Google’s Keyword Planner to see what people are searching for. You can also look at UberSuggest.com.
  • Look to see what topics are trending in your niche. Try to find a story angle that relates to national news or current events.
  • Research what’s happening locally and pitch an editor or television producer in your market.
  • See how you can add a new viewpoint to an existing article.

Booking More Interviews When Securing Media Coverage

Sending traffic, getting shares on social media, and generating comments for your press mentions, articles, and interviews will help you gain more media opportunities. This is because the more traction your media coverage gets, the more likely editors, journalists, and producers will ask you for quotes or other types of commentary. Additionally, keep in mind that the larger your social media followings and your audience are, the more likely media members will be to call on you for your expertise.

Striving to secure major media coverage that’s effective and relevant shouldn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars. If you have a strategic plan with newsworthy and credible points to pitch to the media, you will be successful. Just keep in mind patience and persistence are the keys to securing coverage that will help move the needle in your business.

About the Author of 10 Steps to Securing Media Coverage for Your Startup

Kristin Marquet runs marquet-media.com, a boutique creative consultancy that designs beautiful and feminine brands in the wedding, beauty, fashion, wellness, fitness cooking, photography and interior design industries. Passionate about learning, Kristin has advanced studies in data and marketing analytics. She has attended MIT, Boston University and NYU, and holds degrees in Literature and Marketing/Public Relations. She has contributed to forbes.com, inc.com, huffingtonpost.com, entrepreneur.com and nydailynews.com.


To say that launching a start-up is challenging is an understatement. Particularly when you throw a horrific Australian bushfire season and a global pandemic into the mix.

Frustration with ill-fitting swimwear, that often compromises quality and durability for fast fashion, is where Ellenny Swim began. Most women dread shopping for swimwear, and I, Megan Davis, was one of them. I noticed a gap in the market for swimwear designs that were sun-safe, supportive and sustainable. A brand that caters to the ‘average-sized’ women. 

The launch of my eco-conscious swimwear label was delayed not once but twice. Back in January, the bushfires first delayed my progress and soon after COVID-19 sent the world into a spin. Now that it’s spring and we are coming out of COVID-19 hibernation, Ellenny Swim is already growing a strong online presence. 

Here’s four lessons I’ve learnt since starting Ellenny Swim.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

It is often expected you should know everything about the industry before starting your business, although this isn’t usually the case. I had little fashion experience, but I had a clear idea of what I wanted my product to be. As a graphic designer, I have an eye for design and a strong attention to detail. I knew where my strengths were. 

I knew the importance of creating a strong visual brand was essential to connect with an audience. My skillset was an ultimate strength, but I knew I had many gaps I needed to fill. Realising very quickly that I couldn’t do it on my own, I sought help from business mentors, manufacturing agents and garment designers. 

I joined a number of business groups to learn from the advice and experience of other business owners. Also, don’t underestimate the power of social media. I have collaborated with female models and influencers on Instagram that have continued to grow my strong online presence. 

Resilience is key 

Launching Ellenny Swim was a really challenging time as I had already bought all the stock but had to keep delaying the launch. I kept finding myself back at square one as disaster after disaster hit. Like most businesses this year, I had to shift and find other ways to get my brand out there.  

Despite all of the hurdles I faced launching Ellenny Swim, my passion for the brand never faltered. Maintaining a clear goal in mind for my label helped me stay motivated and on track through those tough times. The reason I created Ellenny was to fill a gap in the market. 

I wanted to create a brand that aligned with my personal ethos of being as environmentally friendly as possible. I can also empathise with women of all shapes and sizes that are often let down by brands that don’t cater to them. I’ve always been curvy and have felt frustrated with swimwear that doesn’t fit properly. I’m very proud to help women feel confident and empowered while relaxing by the pool or beach. 

Be patient – it’s a long process 

I was determined to create swimsuit designs that were sustainable and durable, instead of producing fast fashion that only creates more problems for the environment. However, I didn’t realise how complicated the process was from idea to prototype. It’s much more complicated than other clothing garments.

I had to be patient. Sourcing an eco-friendly fabric manufacturer took time. My research led me to Carvico – an Italian textile manufacturer that uses recycled old nylon products such as discarded fishing nets to create material that is perfect for swimwear. 

There were many features that I wanted to include in my designs that took time to perfect. We’ve all experienced swimwear with removable pads that scrunch and fall out, so I wanted to create a secure rashie design with a built-in-bra that didn’t move around in the water. It was also important to me that my designs provide strong support while also being sun-safe with a UPF50+ rating to block out 98% of the sun’s harmful rays.

Once I got the samples, I tested the swimsuits on myself for at least six months, to make sure they survived the harshest conditions. I tested them in chlorine, salt, 45-degree Celsius temperatures and ran them through the washing machine to ensure they were durable and didn’t fall apart.

Despite the lengthy process, I have created a product that I am incredibly proud of. A range of swimwear designs that are high quality, eco-friendly, flattering and durable. 

Support other business owners 

I couldn’t have launched Ellenny Swim without the support of other small businesses. I feel very proud to support a whole line of small businesses, particularly in Australia, who are benefiting from my business. 

Supporting women in business is also very important to me. I worked with a number of  business owners and leaders, some who are also mothers, that helped me navigate the process.

 

About the author

Perth stay-at-home mother of two, Megan Davis is a former graphic designer who created a brand aligns with her personal ethos and is environmentally friendly. Check out Ellenny Swim.


There are few steps during the hiring process that are more important than the proper training of employees. However, many businesses fail to recognise this fact, which can lead to high turnover rates and unprepared workers.

When you equip your new hires with the tools, resources, and training they need to succeed, however, you’ll lay down the groundwork for an effective first few months. This, in turn, results in higher job morale and increased productivity.

Here are some tips on how to develop an employee training program.

Identify Goals

The first step in creating an employee training program is to identify the goals that need to be met for success to be achieved. Every business is unique, and therefore the goals will be dictated by the requirements in the workplace.

For instance, when training hotel employees you may want to set goals that are related to customer service, while the goals of a firefighter training program may focus more on safety. Depending on the type of business your organisation runs, you will need to tailor the steps in the training process to fit the knowledge and skillset that will best serve your new hire and prepare them for success.

Utilise Training Resources

With the emergence of technology, training resources have been taken to a new level. Gone are the days of flipping through manuals and writing on chalkboards. Instead, there are an array of software platforms on the market that can be programmed to meet the demands of nearly any business.

By utilising these, employees will have a more interactive and dynamic training process. This also shaves numerous hours off HR personnel’s work days, allowing them to allocate dedicated time to more personalized, one-on-one training as needed.

Implement a Schedule

In order to create the most efficient training process possible, employers need to consider implementing a training schedule. There are jobs where the training programs can take weeks to complete, and accommodating the individual schedules of the employees can cause delays.

For this reason, it is wise to have a set schedule in place which can be accessed by all those going through training. Not only will this ensure that every employee is properly trained, but it will also expedite the process. 

Hire a Trainer

Hiring an experienced trainer can help the process move along more smoothly and it can be an incredibly effective way of onboarding employees. While there are costs to consider when using a professional trainer, it is certainly one of the most efficient ways of teaching.

You may also want to seek out the assistance of a seasoned employee, as this can also go a long way in showing the new hires the details of the position.

Monitor Progress

Keeping track of the progress of the trainees can be crucial. After all, it can cost a significant amount of money to put employees through the hiring process, and the results can be disastrous if they are not properly trained.

Whether your business is using software for training purposes or the learning is more hands-on, you will need to develop a set of criteria to gauge the progress of those being trained.

Gaining Feedback

It is important for a company to gain feedback during and after the training process. This can help to show areas that need to be improved upon, along with pointing out the strengths of the program.

To do this, arrange one-on-one meetings with employees so that their opinion will not be skewed by that of other workers. Have them list a few of the obstacles they encountered during the process and the places where they feel they benefited the most.

 

Training employees in every facet of their job will significantly increase the chances that a business will succeed, and it helps to maintain employee morale. If your company is implementing a training program, be sure to identify the goals that need to be met and take advantage of the array of training resources available.

Furthermore, it is necessary to put in place a schedule so that the training of employees can be streamlined, thus reducing training-related expenses. Take note of these points and you are sure to develop an effective employee training program.



In every sense of the phrase, Lisa Mandy Seskin is a true leader in heels. Quite quickly after founding her own shoe brand (worn by Bella Hadid!), she realised there was a highly committed market for vegan shoes. Not wanting to alienate customers, especially those who loved her brand, she developed her first entirely vegan collection. However, like many businesswomen, Lisa knew that having a great product simply wasn’t enough and thus she developed a strategy working with influencers, to raise awareness and sales. Read all about Lisa’s journey below.

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Running your own business is hard. You have to do everything. Pay is… laughable, for the hours you put in. Money for business spending is tight. As a co-owner of Next Level Escape, I’ve done everything from sawing wood for props, to managing staff, to designing marketing materials, to name a few.

Along the way, I’ve found some amazing free programs that I can’t live without, and I thought I’d share them with you. Perhaps you already know of them – this is how they’ve helped our business, specifically.

Canva

As the main person designing all marketing materials, I can’t live without Canva now. Yes, I also have a (very old!) version of Photoshop which I use for detailed designs for props and the like. But if I want to make a great-looking flyer, a gift certificate, or even an infographic, Canva is fast and easy.

It provides a lot of pre-made elements, example designs and templates, stylish fonts, and a simple drag-and-drop editor. Then there’s the little things, like a simple slider for spacing out letters in a text box, that make designing simple. I’m not a designer by trade – far from it! – but I’ve been able to make materials that look pretty good (if I do say so myself) thanks to Canva.

Best of all, it’s free if you don’t need advanced features such as exporting images with transparencies, uploading your own fonts, or canvas resizing. The latter has been a bit of pain point for me, but I’ve found as long as I ensure I have the right size from the start, it’s not an issue. That said, if you do want those additional features, the subscription cost is A$12.95 a month.

MailChimp

MailChimp is an email marketing platform, that allows you to upload customers’ email addresses and other details, then send a bulk mail to them. It’s also one of the easiest ways I’ve found to create slick, good-looking emails that are more than plain text or badly formatted disasters in a desktop mail client.

Most businesses use it for bulk emails to their customers, which is the platform’s main purpose. MailChimp makes it simple to create a sign-up form for a mailing list, and send a series of automated emails. If connected with a shopping cart software, you can also trigger emails after a customer purchases something from your store.

We, however, use it to send personalised emails to our players, providing their results from their game and asking for reviews. At the end of a period, usually a day or two, we upload all the player statistics to MailChimp – a simple copy-and-paste from a spreadsheet. We’ve then set up an email template that takes this information and uses a mail merge function and conditional statements to automatically create a customised email for each player with their statistics.

It’s fast, easy, and looks so much better than our initial plain-text emails. Not to mention, we can send the mails out in batches and the relevant fields are automatically filled in.

Slack (or HipChat)

Slack is a free chat program which allows you to create your own space, set up channels, and invite users. You can also send through files and images with a simple drag-and-drop, search through those files as well as previous conversations, and add reminders to certain lines of chat, to name a few of the features. I’m told that HipChat has similar features, though we haven’t used it ourselves.

Basically, this is our IM program for our 3-person business. We use this when we want to make quick comments to one another without clogging up emails. Perhaps someone’s seen an item that could be perfect for one of our rooms – they’ll take a picture and flick it through. Or I’ve just created a new piece of audio/video for a room and want some quick feedback, so I’ll flick it across. We’re too small to make proper use of the channels, but it’s a good way to keep chat about different aspects of the business separate. And, of course, there’s the direct message feature to a single user.

What makes Slack most useful for me is the ability to quickly search through previously uploaded files and chats. If I need to find something I previously mentioned about a staff member, a quick search will give me all previous mentions, and any related files. Do note that the free version of Slack only keeps the 10,000 most recent messages. If you want it to be a proper archive, you’ll need to pay subscription costs.

Google Drive (or Dropbox and OneDrive)

This is our central repository for data. Dropbox and OneDrive are other good alternative, but we use Google Drive because we also use Google Docs and Google Sheets, which automatically save to Google Drive. The principle for all three services is still the same – a shared folder that multiple people in the business can access. Since our business has three co-owners, this is very important to us.

It also helps that all our key files for everything, from financial documents and contracts to puzzle design, has a back-up in the cloud. If my laptop dies, or is stolen, it’s not the end of the world. We still have everything we need online. If your business doesn’t currently have a back-up plan for your key documents, I would highly suggest creating one now. All of these companies provide space for free, with the option to purchase more if you need it.

Google Sheets and Docs

I mentioned this above – Google Sheets is the online equivalent of Excel, and Google Docs is similar to Word. I should note that they don’t have all the features of the Microsoft Office suite. But what they do have is excellent collaborative features. You can have the document open across multiple computers, and everyone can see and make changes in real time.

We use Google Sheets to record all player statistics, as it can be open on multiple computers at one time without causing issues. If two different people are running games and recording information, it doesn’t cause any conflicts. We’ve also left comments for one another (eg. “Is this a real email address?!”) and made changes to the document structure, such as changing how we record times, while the other person has the document open.

Square payments

This isn’t software, and there’s a small charge, but I wanted to add this in because it’s such a big part of our business. Square is a payment system that allows you to process secure card payments with your mobile phone. We found out about it from a friend, and it was ideal for a business that wasn’t earning much in the very early days.

It takes a flat 1.9% cut of all payments processed (and takes AMEX), instead of the flat fee that many banks charge for their terminals. The most basic version of the terminal that reads card chips and has a magnetic swipe is only A$29. The tap-and-pay version is A$59.

Whether a bank terminal is better for your business is something you’ll calculate based on your projected earnings. Work out 1.9% of your earnings and compare it with the bank fee for their terminals. Going with Square is best if you’re only expecting to earn a small amount each month, say $2,000 to $3,000. Any more, and the flat fee from a bank may be a better option.

One advantage we have found with using Square is the ability to quickly generate an invoice that can be emailed and paid online via credit card. We’ve found this particularly useful when taking deposits, for example.

 

What programs do you use for your small business? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!