Q. Is it possible to promote my small business in the press?

A. Absolutely. Journalists are busy people but they want and need to hear from specialists with stories and ideas. Don’t be put off if you don’t have a dedicated press department, or even a dedicated person for handling the media, getting coverage for your company only requires creative thinking and a little research.

Q. What is the most effective way to achieve this?

A. The first thing you need to do is work out your specialism: what expertise can you offer? What stories can you provide? For example, if you are a small construction business, you will be able to comment on property, building and planning news. You will also more broadly be able to comment on the conditions facing small businesses.

The second most important thing to do is ensure that you target your information correctly – make sure you know the interests of the newspaper and the various journalists’ briefs. There is very little point contacting a fashion journalist, for instance, about developments in the building sector.

Finding a journalist’s contact details and information about their brief is not difficult. They often advertise them in their publication or on their website – and if not they will normally be listed on websites such as www.gorkana.co.uk and www.journalisted.com.

Finding out about a journalist’s brief and their background is vital for the success of your pitch. Once you have identified your target journalists, read as many of their articles as possible to find out what interests them, but more importantly look at the type of material they use. This should guide what you offer. For example, if they regularly use statistics and research, commission research in your business sector and send it to them with a comment.

Be sure to think carefully about the type of story the information you send could create. This has to be interesting, informative and link to the current news agenda where possible. You improve your chances of a story being picked up if you can provide substantial evidence.

Make sure your emails are brief and clear. Don’t send emails with the information buried under pictures and graphics that take ages to download. Journalists receive hundreds if not thousands of emails a day. If you haven’t made your point in the first few lines your email is more likely to get missed.

And finally, it is very important to be easy to contact. Make sure you provide a direct line or mobile number on the bottom of all your emails.

Q. What must I not do?

A. Never lie or provide information you are not sure is true. When the journalist finds out, you will destroy any chance of having a relationship in the future since they will not trust the information you provide.

Try your best not to phone a journalist close to their deadline. If you have a story relevant for that day make sure you call early in the morning before the day’s agenda has been decided. If the story is not time specific – just email.