During times of crisis, marketing your photography business remains important. In fact, it’s arguably even more important than ever.
The Coronavirus pandemic, which we are currently in the midst of as I write this in early April 2020, has all-but closed most photography businesses for the short term. Yet, marketing-savvy photographers know that just because trading is temporarily on hold, marketing activities can and should continue. I take this view too.
The goal should now be to adapt as best you can and continue to market and promote yourself and get publicity for your photography business, to stay visible and top of mind. This way, you will be taking positive steps towards helping your photography business survive the pandemic and be in the best possible position once you can open up again.
Is marketing and self-promotion appropriate during a crisis?
Some may take the view that marketing and self-promotion during a crisis should be the least of our concerns. But presuming you and your loved ones are safe and well, there is no shame in wanting to do what you can to protect your photography business for the longer-term.
Halting all marketing and going off the radar now, just as your clients and ideal clients are online in greater numbers than ever, and are seeking information, inspiration and connection more so than ever before, would actually be doing them a disservice.
You have knowledge, creativity and talents that are still needed right now, so do remember that keeping yourself visible is not only benefiting yourself but also those in your community.
Sadly, there are lots of people out there trying to make business owners feel guilty for continuing to market their products and services at the moment. But my view is that as long as you are doing marketing in a socially-sensitive way, and are coming from a place of service and are trying to add value, then it is OK to do what you can to keep your business visible online.
Publicity can help you to stay visible during the pandemic
You might presume that journalists don’t want to hear from business owners during a crisis; that publicity opportunities don’t exist if your business has nothing to do with the Coronavirus pandemic.
But, in fact, journalists are hungrier than ever for stories and they aren’t just interested in crisis-related news.
Certainly, in the past few weeks here in the UK, media consumption has sky-rocketed. People are spending more time online. They are seeking answers to their questions, solutions to their problems, and they are turning to the media for that information.
There is more demand than ever for news and information so many publications have increased their output. Therefore, in contrast to what you might think, journalists can actually be short of stories at a time like this.
What journalists want from you now
Journalists want to hear from people and from business owners with something insightful to share. They have column inches to fill, stories to write and, as ever, they need your help. And, while the pandemic is the major story of the moment, journalists are interested in a wide variety of topics so there’s a lot of scope for getting featured.
For example, there’s a big demand for inspirational, happy and funny news stories to counteract the vast majority of negative stories. Some light relief is always welcome when times are tough!
I’ve noticed that most newspapers, are now making a point of featuring positive news and have created dedicated columns or sections for sharing uplifting stories. This is what the Telegraph is doing, for example. Similarly, the Daily Mirror currently have a ‘Coronavirus Community Corner’ – a double-page spread in the paper full of uplifting content.
These journalist requests below are also good examples of what is currently in demand and note the “desperately need…” sentiment in the first. Journalists are hungry for your news!
How to get publicity for your photography business during times of crisis
As I’ve been saying, during times of crisis there are still many opportunities for you to be featured in the media.
As ever, there are several ways to land publicity and I explain these in more detail in this article: Three ways to secure free publicity for your photography business but to summarise, you can either:
1. Proactively pitch your news and stories
Create a press release or email pitch to summarise the key points of the story.
2. You can help journalists who are working on already-commissioned articles
Twitter is your friend here. Search the #journorequest hashtag within Twitter to find potential opportunities.
3. Or, you can use ‘newsjacking’ to make your business relevant to the current news agenda.
Related reading: How to use newsjacking to promote your photography business
Now, I’ll go into more detail about how you can make yourself relevant to the media and I’ll include examples of journalists’ requests, as shared on Twitter in recent days.
Newsjacking: Hooking onto the news agenda
News and stories related to the pandemic
If you have been affected in some way by the Coronavirus pandemic, you may have a personal or business story that could be of interest to the press.
The media are hungry for first-person accounts of how the pandemic is affecting small businesses. They also want your thoughts on the emerging situation and developments as they happen.
So, have a think about how you as an individual and as a business owner have been affected, and whether you have an interesting, unusual or, perhaps, slightly controversial story to share. This is a technique known as ‘newsjacking’. If selected to be featured, you could benefit from a mention in the press.
- Have you had to cancel all of your bookings for the foreseeable and are now pivoting your photography business in order to survive the pandemic? You could share what plans you have for the short-term and how you anticipate it may impact your business in the long-term.
- Or, in contrast, is your business thriving in the wake of the pandemic? Have you managed to pivot your business or devise a way to generate revenue despite the challenges presented by the pandemic?
- Are you facing financial difficulty as a result of the pandemic? Or have you a story about surviving and thriving a previous crisis that could inspire others?
- What is your perception of how the photography industry is adapting to the changes brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic? Could this potentially be a good thing for the industry in some way (this is an example of a potentially controversial view), and if so, how?
- Are you the leader of a photography group or organisation? As a spokesperson for a group of photographers, what could you share with the media about how the photography industry is faring? What is your take on what support the photography industry needs at this time? What are the challenges photographers are facing and how are you actively involved in supporting them through this?
- What are you doing to help your photography clients at this time of crisis? How are you supporting them and what policies have you introduced into your business to safeguard your client’s interests? For example:
Stories like these could interest the business media and general news media.
Alternatively, you may have a personal story that might interest the press.
- Are you a parent who is now juggling school-aged children with working from home? You could share your experience, talk about the challenges and how you are adapting to this new routine.
- Have you developed new skills in lockdown?
- Have you started a home-based photo project, perhaps a photo diary documenting your experience of self-distancing or home-schooling? If so, what images and personal stories could you share?
- Do you have a second area of expertise that is relevant in some way to the Coronavirus? For example, relating to fitness, self-care, mental health etc. Do you have any expert tips you can share with the media at this time when people are looking for this kind of advice and information?
- Are you helping others in some way, such as your neighbours, members of your local community or fellow photographers?
These are all potential routes into the media based on linking in with the current news agenda.
News and stories unrelated to the pandemic
News journalists are largely focused on the pandemic right now, but others are planning articles and features that are in no way related.
Which means that there are still opportunities for you if you don’t have a Coronavirus related story to share.
Your local radio station, newspaper and lifestyle magazine will have core features that they run regularly which are not impacted by the news agenda.
Editors still need strong stories and quality photography. They always need news, expert comment and tips, insights and anecdotes and people to interview about topics unrelated to the pandemic.
Related reading: 500+ National Awareness Days to use in your photography marketing
Similarly, bloggers are still welcoming guest posts, podcast hosts still want people to interview, online news and media sites want information unrelated to the Covid-19 crisis. The opportunities are still very much there for the taking.
A word on ‘lead times’
If you know anything about how the media work, you’ll know that the lead times for magazines can be anything from two to six months. So, features are being written now for publications which won’t be out on newsstands until the end of the year.
For example, Christmas editions of national magazines are usually compiled in July/August. Summer editions are wrapped up at the start of a new year, and ‘back-to-school in September’ related features are all done and dusted by the previous March or April.
I mention lead times because they are an important consideration when pitching the media. Don’t stop putting yourself forward for PR opportunities now in fear that it’s inappropriate during a global pandemic. The results of your hard work may not be seen until further down the line when, hopefully, this will have all blown over.
Publicity for your photography business during times of crisis
There is no shame, as a business owner, in wanting to stay visible throughout the pandemic. PR is a great way to leverage the power and reach of the media to reach new audiences and to remain top of mind, so I highly recommend that you continue to seek out publicity for your photography business.
Just be sensitive in your communications, empathise with your audience and seek to help. Serve your audience with useful content, create opportunities to connect with them and provide what they need. Come from a place of service and you’ll be on the right track.
Have you been featured in the media since the Coronavirus outbreak? I’d love to hear about it. Do get in touch via the comments below.
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