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Meet the New Media: Publicizing Your Business through Traditional Media and Social Networking
2009, Q3 (October 01, 2009)
By Andrea Wenger, Carolina Chapter Member
Meet the New Media event
Meet the New Media event

On August 27, business people from around the Triangle gathered at the Angus Barn’s Pavilions, an open-air structure built from reclaimed lumber dating back to the antebellum era. The tranquility of the lakeside setting and the cobblestone paths contrasted with the energy circulating beneath the ten-foot ceiling fan that kept the space tolerably cool despite the summer heat. The crowd took their seats to listen as representatives from media outlets such as the News & Observer, WRAL, WNCN, and News 14 Carolina spoke about how businesses can promote themselves using media resources.

This was the tenth anniversary of the Meet the Media forum, which has evolved into Meet the New Media to include the burgeoning influence of social networking. According to its website, “The Meet the NEW Media forum provides the local business community the opportunity to make valuable media contacts and learn how to create publicity for their company through traditional media interaction and creative strategies to engage, monitor and communicate utilizing the social networking movement.”
“Bring us a story that is meaningful to the community that highlights what you are about.”
—David Crabtree

The organization’s founder, Rebecca Antonelli, said in her opening remarks, “Your horn sounds twice as loud when someone else blows it.” In this fierce economic market, small businesses, independent contractors, and job seekers must to set themselves apart to get noticed among the crowd. How can you leverage your expertise to make your voice stand out?

“We in the media are forever looking for good stories,” said David Crabtree of WRAL. “Bring us a story that is meaningful to the community that highlights what you are about.”

Alan Wolfe of the News & Observer also emphasized this point. “For us to tell a story, we need to hear from you.” If you wrote an essay for your blog that’s relevant to the larger community, send the N&O a link to it. But remember, news stories include the positive and the negative. An essay about how great your business is doing during the economic downturn won’t sound authentic if you don’t include the risks and challenges you face as well.

News outlets need stories on a wide variety of topics because people have a wide variety of interests—and they won’t invest time reading about a topic that doesn’t interest them, explained Nannette Wilson of WNCN. “The way people use media is changing…The word ‘friend’ and the idea of networking has changed.”

Customers prefer doing business with people they know. So how can you become known? Wilson recommended that you have a blog and a video on your website. When an event occurs in the community, and you can shed light on it, contact the media to offer your expertise. For example, suppose you volunteer with a dog rescue program. If the local media reports on a toddler mauled by a family pet, offer your insight on why such tragedies occur and how to avoid them. WNCN’s MyNC.com website provides community news and allows you to publish your own stories.

AnnMarie Breen of News-14 Carolina encouraged “citizen journalists” to look at what’s happening elsewhere in the country, and relate those events to what’s happening locally. What’s the best way for individuals to get their information to the media? Call and say, “I have a 30-second pitch for you, and I’ll follow it up with an e-mail.” Include the information in the body of the e-mail (no attachments), and keep it to one page.

David Crabtree acknowledged that the media is changing, but they have not yet changed. He encouraged the audience to embrace new technology, but not at the expense of other strategies that are the core of what they do. Authenticity is key. Crabtree stressed that you don’t want publicity—you want your story told. You want the public to know how the things you do help people.

Tell your story over and over, but remember that not everyone will listen. To increase the likelihood of being heard, make it personal. Look for ways to add life to people’s days. “We will listen to your story idea,” Crabtree says. “Tell me who it affects.”

The next Meet the New Media forum will be held on October 15, 2009 from 10 a.m. to noon at the McKimmon Center at NC State. Next quarter, I’ll discuss ways you can use social networking and blogging to promote your business or personal brand.

Andrea Wenger is the Membership Manager of the STC Carolina Chapter. She can be reached at andrea dot wenger at us dot schneider-electric dot com. End of article.

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