I recently had the fantastic opportunity of interviewing an expert in the journalism field and friend of mine, Anita Jaynes from The Business Exchange.
This interview gives great insight into how one of the biggest business magazines in the South-West began and Anita’s top tips for using PR as a way of building brand awareness! In her interview, Anita shared with us the details of her amazing Start-Up September competition which you can still enter!
Getting to know Anita Jaynes:
Can you tell us about yourself and about The Business Exchange?
I set up The Business Exchange and we are currently celebrating its 4th birthday! We launched in Swindon and Wiltshire first and we now have a by-monthly magazine for that region. We print 5,000 copies every other month and they are delivered to over 2,500 venues throughout the county. We only sell to business as we are a B2B magazine (business to business).
In September of last year, we launched our Bath and Somerset edition which is a quarterly magazine and we are now celebrating a year in Bath and Somerset!
What did you do before The Business Exchange and how did the idea for it come about?
I worked for somebody else and when I left I asked myself ‘what am I going to do now?’. I had this big network of contacts and thought ‘I don’t want to lose this, I’m really enjoying what I’m doing’ so I looked at the market place and what was out there and I noticed a gap in terms of the language that was used in a lot of business press. I thought that the literature and the press around business were old and stuffy in their ways and they needed to change and evolve so I created The Business Exchange.
In its full format, The Business Exchange magazine, is easy to read, glossy and image-led. That’s really important to us as we want everyone, to want to have it on their desks and in their waiting rooms.
There’s a lot of criticism from people who say ‘print is dead’ so what made you pick print as your primary medium?
I think there is very much a need for print still as people retain information a lot more in the printed form rather than reading it on a screen. We are very throw-away with newsletters and things like that. They are in our inbox, we want to read them but quite often we just don’t have the time and we end up pressing the delete button. We’re exactly the same with online content, we might skim read things but as a consequence, we don’t retain the information for later use. When I think of myself as a reader, I know that I retain more information when reading print than online.
We might skim read things but as a consequence, we don’t retain the information to use it later. I’m not saying that people don’t read meaningfully some of the stuff on our website and on twitter where they pick up links for things as well, but I do think that print isn’t dead – it’s about pairing print and digital together and that’s what makes the difference and a lot of the time (and I’m always quite shocked) the national publishers aren’t doing particularly effectively.
When I was trying to grow a national brand for The Entrepreneur’s Godmother, one of my goals was to get into The Business Exchange magazine. For businesses who have not been subject to PR before, what advice would you give them when approaching journalists?
If you’re a firm with aspirations for national coverage, you must have a local profile first so building those relationships with the local press are really important. First of all, you need to start by writing a press release. A traditional press release which would be received can be sent to printed press like a newspaper or magazine, you could also send it to a radio station or newsroom for TV. It needs to be very clear and coherent so try not to mix too many messages, ask yourself ‘what are you really trying to get across’. The second that you start weaving in too many ideas, if it’s in my inbox I will completely turn off – it needs to be really short and sharp. Our stories are no more than 400 words, between 300 and 350 is really good. You also need to make sure that you reference properly. Have your proper website address so www. And then write your website with now forward slashes as it just looks messy. For example, mine is www.tbesw.co.uk
If it’s for an event make sure that you include the date, time and location because quite often people miss so much detail and then you have to go back and ask questions and that’s when the journalists are really busy and their inbox is full that you’re not going to get noticed. Make sure that all of the information you need is there as you don’t want to lose the opportunity.
Also, always include a really nice, high resolution image or a link so that we can access it. Images are key. My website is image-led so to be at centre page on the top of the website, all of those are led with a really strong image. It’s also good to send a landscape and a portrait picture because having a mix, depending on how they are going to be used and having a bit of choice is really useful for journalists.
One thing that can be tricky when writing a press release is deciding what to use as a title. What advice would you give to make a title stand out?
It’s really tricky because you just want it to be short and simple because if you put to many words in a headline then it just loses its place – keep it simple. They’ll probably have some fun with the headline themselves anyway so don’t worry too much about it and don’t spend too much time tying yourself up in knots with some long, silly title as they’ll play with that and they’ll know where it’s going to fit. I would concentrate more on how you build the relationship with the journalist and how you send that press release because, I get it from PR agencies as well who should know better, they’ll send me a story then all of a sudden, they’ll call me 5 seconds later and it’s really irritating and the last thing I want.
Do you think it’s important that individual’s phone you after sending you a press release?
If everything is there and they’ve built a relationship with me then not necessarily. If it’s the first time, drop me a quick call and say ‘Hi, I would really like you to run my story, I’ve sent the information over to you, could we go over it on the phone really quickly?’ and just have a nice conversation. But saying ‘I’ve just sent you a story, are you going to print it?’ will get some backs up. It’s the way that you do it and build that relationship and say why you’re sending the story and why it’s important to you to get the coverage and who your think it might help.
You need to be targeted in who send your story too as well so I’m a B2B (Business to Business) magazine so I’m not going to want to read a story about pet food as that would be better placed in a consumer magazine (B2C). Another question to answer is whether you want your story to be locally or nationally focused – is it area specific? I get so annoyed when I get sent non-geographically targeted pieces, for example from Birmingham – it has no relevance and this is really important for the audience.
As we know, people buy people. So, for me, I really wanted to be in the national press and Enterprise Nation were running a trip to New York on a Go Global mission. I had a look on the trip and small business editors from The Mail on Sunday and some of the top UK magazines were there so I went on the trip to meet the national journalists! Sometimes you have to go out of your way to make new connections and although going to New York was extreme, it did work!
Definitely, create a quick connection by saying who you are, what you do and maybe leave a business card or some more information about your business so they can look at it later and in more time. Quite often, something will sound interesting on a business stand at a show and you just don’t take it in because you’ve spoken to so many people on that day but if there is something meaningful that you can leave that tells you a bit more about your product then that will help them to remember you.
So, we are looking at September and it is Start-Up September in The Business Exchange, could you tell us more about this?
In September 2014, to celebrate The Business Exchange in Swindon and Wiltshire being around for a year, ‘I thought how I could give something back to the local community’. So, I went to advertisers and contacts and said ‘what can you give me as a prize?’ to help other Start-Ups in the region to get their business off the ground. This is the third year we have been running the competition and it’s going brilliantly well. We gave away over £10,500 worth of prizes last year! It is a great competition and it’s embraced by so many businesses that are giving away such valuable prizes that Start-Ups wouldn’t be able to afford but add real value to their business. So, it’s everything from Alison’s Easy Peasy Sales online course to free business logo designs and much more!
To celebrate the Bath and Somerset edition we have also launched a competition . So, we have 2 different competitions in total. If you are a Start-Up in Bath and Somerset you need to follow us on Twitter at @TBEBath and if you are a Start-Up in Swindon and Wiltshire, you need to follow us at @TBESW and every day we announce the prize on Twitter and on our website. All you have do to enter is tweet us ‘#Iwanttowin’ and you’re in with the chance of winning one of our amazing prizes!
Now you know Anita’s top tips for getting your press release noticed and the importance of building a local profile before having a national profile! I would like to thank Anita for sharing her amazing advice with us and make sure you remember to enter her amazing competition!
To find out more about the Start-Up September competition in Swindon and Wiltshire, click here!
And to find out more about the Start-Up September competition in Bath, click here!