A few months ago my family attended a local event called “Taste of the Town”, where numerous restaurants and food trucks get a chance to showcase their best work in front of thousands and thousands of potential customers in the community. I know we had a blast sampling some great eats from places we’ve never heard of or been to before, but I couldn’t help but think what this does for the businesses themselves. Sales is a numbers game, after all, and the more people you get in front of the more you’ll sell.
If there’s any barrier to being successful as an independent agent it has to be getting in front of more people, but what’s the best way to achieve this while having the broadest range and greatest impact? I thought back to how my family and I discovered the Taste of the Town event and what drew us there in the first place, which was local media coverage. It was all over the place; news stations advertised the event, local papers had an announcement every single day leading up to it, and radio stations did a plug almost hourly. Judging by how long it took us to get a good parking spot, which is essential when you have a 2 year old and a four month old in tow, I would say the local media coverage paid off in spades.
Creating a successful media campaign has to be focused on the ultimate goal of becoming the local expert, but you need to find your niche and lean on your strengths. If you’re a great writer, focus on newspaper outlets and local lifestyle blogs. If you love to be in front of a crowd then tune into the TV new stations. If you enjoy having open conversations about your profession then warm up that radio voice. Once you’ve identified your strengths and have a good list of the local media outlets it’s time to make connections.
Don’t be fooled, media is very much a for-profit business and you can always buy your way into the limelight if you choose, but there are other methods to get some page/screen/air time that will help you reach your goals and make the right connections.
- Join a local networking group. Many of the local media talent participate in networking groups to get scoops on upcoming events and to help gain ad revenue from the participants.
- Sponsor a local event. This is a great way to spread your name but also gives you an opportunity to be highlighted by the local media, most often TV and newspaper reporters.
- Volunteer at a charitable event. Charitable events are almost always promoted via TV and radio in the community, and volunteering for such events is a great way to meet those in the local media to start a relationship.
- Participate in local government. You may not be interested in any public position, but being on your city’s Local Planning Agency’s committee is another great way to get involved in the community and meet those from the local media organizations.
- Utilize your existing relationships. Your friends, family, old college pals or even some of your clients may be part of the local media and may be a great liaison to get you in the door.
As you can see, it’s all about being in the right place at the right time, and everything has to be focused on the local community. Like I said before you can go in and pay for your time, but participating in these great events or great causes is another way to enhance your image in the community and expand your local media presence.
Once you’ve made those connections you need to focus on what’s next. Just because you were highlighted in a local newspaper article or were interviewed on TV doesn’t mean you’re done, that’s just the beginning. The ultimate goal is to become a key resource for that media outlet and have a regular part in their lineup. Here are a couple of suggestions and examples on each platform that’ll help you create a winning game plan:
Newspaper and News Websites
The Lifestyle and Finance sections of the local paper or news sites are the main targets here. Mixed in with all of happenings, events, and financial news is a perfect place to showcase your expertise on the insurance market. There are certain times of the year where insurance plays a major role in the news, especially around the Annual Enrollment Period and the Annual Disenrollment Period, but you should also look to become a resource on any proposed changes throughout the year. You want to be the person the local papers reach out to when anything happens in the insurance world. And, if you agree to write for the paper on a regular basis for no charge, that’ll greatly increase your chances of getting published.
Elizabeth Gavino, founder of Lewin & Gavino in New York and one of our partners, regularly writes and is quoted by CNBC on the topic of Medicare. This was a relationship she has built over the years with one of their reporters on the personal finance team. You can check out one of the articles here to see what kind of topics would garner such attention.
This may not be a fit for everyone based on where you live, but focus on the stations that have some form of morning talk show. They generally air after the morning news and are more lifestyle centered, report on local events and consistently interview guests and businesses from the local community. While the topic of insurance isn’t flashy by any means, it is important to the viewers and offers an opportunity for the show to provide some education. Even if there isn’t a morning show in your area, you can still be the local expert that the stations turn to when any news or stories pop up about the insurance market.
Thomas Qualley, owner of Sovereign Select Insurance Solutions, is a regular guest on the “Morning Blend” for TMJ4, the local NBC affiliate in Milwaukee, WI. Here’s one segment that aired during the beginning of the Annual Enrollment Period this past year, a great way to expand the agency’s name recognition during the busiest time of the year.
Talk radio is still one of the most absorbed forms of media today, especially by our target demographic. You should focus on being a guest speaker for any of the local shows, and there is usually a “pay to play” type of arrangement. That is, if you want to be a guest speaker you’ll need to do some form of advertising on the station. Now, depending on your budget, this may be difficult to do but if you’re looking to have your voice heard there is no better way than radio. Also, if you don’t mind dabbling in a little politics, there is a great need for these stations to have on a local expert when any major changes are proposed to the marketplace, and also during the enrollment periods of the year.
Tyler McClosky, COO of First Family Insurance in Fort Myers, FL, is a regular guest on 92.5 Fox News and speaks on the topic of insurance and related legislative updates.
When it comes to the complicated world of insurance many people are looking for someone to guide them but most don’t know where to turn. Leverage local media to spread your brand and expertise in the community so people know who to turn to, and have a lot of fun doing it!