Greg Wright has been Deputy Business Editor of the Yorkshire Post since April 2004. He has won nine awards for journalistic excellence, including the Work Foundation’s Regional Newspaper Journalist of the Year Award. Greg studied at the University of Leeds and attained a degree in History/ Public Media. He has worked for the Lincolnshire Standard Newspapers, Blackpool Evening Gazette, Bradford Telegraph & Argus and the Press Association.
Yesterday five lucky entrepreneurs were given the rare opportunity to share a business lunch with Greg and pick his brains! The article below is a summary of what we learned. Around the table: Greg Wright: Yorkshire Post, Chrissie Slater: myCatalystTM, Lyndsay Din: Lyndsay Din Photography, Claire McLaughlin: CJM Designs, Siobhan Thomas: Phenomode Fashion, Andrea Bucknor: City Style Dating, Sally Marshall: myCatalystTM, Lee Griffiths: Holbeck Food Enterprise, Chandra Singh: myCatalystTM.
Greg: The Yorkshire Post have two business supplements on Tuesday and Thursday – Thurday’s supplement is based around small businesses.
Siobhan: Would you recommend aiming high straight away? E.g.- national papers?
Greg: The best papers to go for are local, evening or weekly papers. Don’t go for the national papers because you have no chance unless you have something so innovative its revolutionary. The people at the national papers read the local papers and pick up stories from those anyway.
Siobhan: What are the best papers to approach for promotion?
Greg: For a local business you are likely to need promotion in a local paper. Yorkshire Post covers the whole of West Yorkshire so if you are Leeds based, you may have more luck with a Leeds-centric paper like the Yorkshire Evening Post.
Lee: I am aware that you need to build up a good relationship with a journalist; so they get a greater understanding of what you are aiming to achieve both in your business and brand key messages, but how do you find the right contact initially?
Greg: Do your research – read through the paper and see who writes about business in your geographical area? Who covers the subject you’re interested in? Check the bylines. You can find contact details in the paper and on the website. Also, don’t just write to one member of the team – write to everybody who covers business because one person might pick it up where others have missed it.
Andrea: What is the best way to approach journalists?
Greg: Never in the morning because we’re busy rushing around . The best time is mid to late afternoon. Give us a call and/or drop us an email.
Greg: What are your impressions of the media? Have any of you approached the media before?
Andrea: I think there’s a pre-conception that the media only focuses on the negatives and they don’t want to write positive stories.
Greg: We do do a lot of negative stories – especially in the current climate- but we don’t aim to do this – we want positive stories too!
Siobhan: How would you structure a press release when sending it to a journalist? [Some business advisors] advise people to write an article themselves to save journalists the trouble.
Greg: Its true we don’t have a lot of time to write copy but the key is to be concise and get your point across. What is the first thing you would tell somebody about your business? – That should be your first sentence.
Siobhan: What are the top five things journalists look for in a press release?
Greg: 1. Plain English – don’t use fancy jargon
2. Relevance – What does it mean to a journalist? Why is it going to stand out to them? Whereabouts would I place it in the paper?
3. Be concise – Journalists get 100s of emails every day so don’t expect them to read an essay.
4. Understand the audience – with a local paper you are reaching local people – is this your target market?
5. Don’t forget the basics – put your contact details on. They won’t be printed unless there is a need for them to be there i.e. a contact for an event ticket or a website to find more information on.
Think like a journalist, read the paper, write in plain English in a style akin to that of the paper. Imagine you’re a journalist – if you weren’t involved in your business what would interest you? What makes you different to your competition? Often journalists like to take a human angle – have you given people jobs where there were none before? If you’re writing about a charity event – get quotes from somebody affected by what the charity is campaigning for. In terms of relevance – if there’s an issue affecting your business that might affect others we’re more likely to use it. For instance, we’ve just done a story about changes in legislation affecting business in a negative way – people need to know about things like that.
Sally: What captures the attention of the press where business is concerned?
Greg: Find something unique to your business. For example, businesses that use myCatalyst centres might take the angle that they are bringing enterprise into once deprived communities where there was nothing else for a long time.
Siobhan: Is a bold image vital for getting into the papers?
Greg: Its not necessary because we have our own photographers but by all means send in pictures if you think they’d be good. We get a lot of boring images clogging up our inboxes so make sure its not dull. It must be good quality but it doesn’t have to be massive – it shouldn’t be more than 1MB. Strong images have a great chance of getting in the paper.
Sally: Do you use freelance photographers like Lyndsay often?
Greg: We have staff photographers and we do use freelancers but it's very competitive. You really need to be in the right place at the right time to get your picture used.
Sally: Are there ways to collaborate with the press on promotion if you have no money for advertising? i.e. for worthwhile initiatives?
Greg: If you’ve got something worth saying send a press release in. But don’t be pushy! If you repeatedly send things you might make them feel harassed and they would be less likely to respond. Only send something when you have something to say.
Andrea: Are journalists interested in attending events such as launches, workshops and so on?
Greg: Yes we’re interested in events but bear in mind we cover a large area and there’s only so many events you can go to in one week!
Andrea: How do I go about getting a dating column in a newspaper?
Greg: I can put you in touch with who you need to ask.
With his knowledge suitably exhausted, Greg then interviewed us back! Look out for an article in the Yorkshire Post and check their website for audio!