how to give the smaller people a bigger voice

Know your stuff. Know who covers your patch then get to know them. It's an approach that's as old as the hills but one that continues to bear fruit if done with skill.

by Russ Cockburn

It’s interesting to view how much the economic pendulum has swung since the global recession of 2009.

Back then a large part of the media’s agenda was sewn up with the big boys, the car producers, aerospace giants and the financial powerhouses would regularly adorn the pages of the nationals and the airtime of our major broadcasters.

Stories from SMEs - small, medium enterprises - did get covered, don’t get me wrong. However, more often than not they were neatly packaged away in their own special enterprise section and very rarely did they make it into mainstream news.

One of our main clients is the Business Growth Service, who provide support and funding to England’s growing businesses.

Each quarter we release the latest Manufacturing Barometer that paints a picture of how these companies are performing when it comes to jobs, sales, future growth and investment.

Originally a regional survey carried out in the South West, we decided to take it national three and a bit years ago and in that time have been able to secure coverage in the Daily Express, Economist, Financial Times, Guardian, Times, Telegraph and Wall Street Journal, not to mention features across the BBC network, Bloomberg and Reuters.

This hasn’t been an easy sell-in; in fact we’ve had to work tirelessly to identify the message, the right ‘sympathetic targets’ and cultivate the relationships.

It has required the old fashioned PR approach of getting on the phone and convincing the journalist it merits national attention.

We’ve made mental notes of the contacts we’ve got out of jail with case studies during the year and used ‘favours’ to at least get a hearing.

To be fair to the media, as the Barometer has developed so as the willingness to cover it, helped in part by the Government’s renewed faith in SMEs to drive the economic resurgence.

There’s still a way to go to rival established reports from the EEF and CBI, but we’re getting there and have become a credible source for manufacturing data and trends.

So if you’re doing PR for the smaller boys, there’s no need to see the nationals as a step too far. Make sure it’s the right story, look at an exclusive angle and get it on their radar.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised how receptive journalists are to the new breed of SME.

Russ Cockburn is director of Cucumber PR. 

 

 

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