How to Not Annoy Local Media with Your Small Business Website

I wasn’t always a writer for small business. I used to write what we call editorial—stuff the website or magazine wants you to read for fun so they can sell advertising.

You know. Like “Eight Portland Dog Shampoo Boutiques You Must Try in April.”

I have not personally tried every dog shampoo boutique in the city.

I don’t even have a dog.

A lot of gathering information for this kind of article, to be honest, is googling and asking around. When those writers are poking around the internet, looking for the best insert your business category here, make it easy to follow up. First, make it easy to connect and fall in love.

If you follow the guidelines below, it might even help your customers do the same.

Earn the Hearts of Local Media with Your Awesome Small Business Website

When you’d like to earn some free media, make life easy on those hard-working writers. They need your phone number to get the quote their editor is requiring, and if they can’t find it you might not end up in that article after all.

Here are the demands. They’re simple, I promise!

wincing dog

Give us the basics.

If you’re open certain hours, please list those hours and keep them current. If you sell online, make it obvious from the front page. If you have a brick and mortar, please come out and say so. It is okay to be obvious. Artfully obvious, of course. You can assume some visitors to your site are flying in from the farthest reaches of the world wide web, knowing absolutely zero information about you and your business.

Tell us how to contact you.

If you want to be contacted by phone, please say so. If you want to be contacted by email, same. Either way, you have to be somewhat available, AND get back to people in a reasonable amount of time. One or two business days is usually fine.

Next, make sure your phone number and/or email is listed in more than one place. Put it on every page, if you need to. Don’t make people search or scroll. This blog post will have my email, hello@kelleygardiner.com, at the bottom. I only have my phone number on my contact page because I rarely pick up my phone unless I have a scheduled call.

See? I’m trying to make it easy for you to contact me in the way I prefer to be contacted. hello@kelleygardiner.com

Make your physical address obvious.

This one is dedicated to Portland, Maine. I’ve been burned one too many times.

Make it easy for anyone scanning your information to get this info. Put it in your social media profiles, too. Please. Location matters.

Your address (AND PHONE NUMBER, for the love) should be text that can be copied and pasted. Not an image. You have my permission to ask your designers to change this. Depending on other people to type your phone number correctly is a dangerous business. I like to leave my dangerous liaisons for leisure, not business.

Related: read up on how to make your business show up in local searches.

You don’t need to be fancy.

If you own a graphic or web design company, fancy can be good. Show off those skillz. (You know that already though, because you’re an expert in web design. Sweet.) For the rest of us? There might be some creative fields where a Flash introduction is super appropriate, but in general, let’s not. Keep it simple, readable, and fast to load.

But please join us in the 21st century.

If your site hasn’t been updated in ten years… we can tell, and it doesn’t make the most impressive of first impressions. Make sure the content is updated as well as the design.

Get mobile friendly.

More and more customers are using mobile devices to search for and find information. Your site should load quickly, look good, and be easy to navigate. Remember, those phone numbers in an image are a total killer on mobile. Not in a good way. Your customers expect that they’ll be able to click to call.

Make sure we know what the heck you do.

What the heck do you do? “Create opportunities for small businesses to increase their conversions.” Okay. But what the heck do you DO? “Handmade lovely adornments for your life and living.” Come again? What in the loving heck would that look like on a shelf?

A quick read  should tell the prospect what it is that you do. Exactly. What services you perform, what you sell, and how the reader can obtain said goods or services. Ideally, this will cut down on messaging from peeps who are not your core customer, as well as boost your SEO.

Additional reading: What the Heck Is SEO?

Answer your dang email. 

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve emailed a business with a request to reply within two or three business days and… crickets. This is not good, people! Either they don’t want free advertising, or are too disorganized to get back to people in a timely manner. Get your email in order.


Ready for Contact

It’s not just me, either. Jenni Bost from Portland Bloggers and A Well-Crafted Party has the same kinds of beefs when looking for local information: “The non-existent contact or hard-to-find contact info is the worst. Drives me batty… When a company doesn’t value the web it makes me wary of their staying power or ability to fulfill my consumer needs effectively.”

Mmmm hmm.

Hear that? You need content. If your content is thin or non-existent, email me today. We can even talk about getting a little local publicity.


Have you had any luck with earned media? What worked for you?



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