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5 Questions with Mike Cote, NH Union Leader Business Editor

We’ve been delivering insights into the economic engines of New Hampshire through our 5 Questions segment. There are other organizations in the Granite State who help get the word out about what’s going on in the business community, and this week, we’re talking with one of the professionals involved in that reporting: Mike Cote, business and city editor at the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Cote is celebrating his third anniversary with the Union Leader this month, but he’s not new to the storytelling scene. He has more than 30 years of experience as a reporter and editor at newspapers and magazines in New Hampshire, Colorado and Florida. In his current position at the Union Leader, he assigns and edits news stories for their print and online editions, in addition to writing a weekly business column.

 

Mike Cote ~ NH Union Leader

Mike Cote ~ NH Union Leader

1. What kind of business news are you looking to publish these days?

Our franchise is local news. We are looking for stories about businesses and business people that reflect the Granite State’s economy.

That represents a wide range of industries, including high technology and startups, small business success stories, thriving family businesses, publicly traded companies, defense and aerospace contractors, residential and commercial real estate, construction and the trades, restaurants and retail, tourism, health care, manufacturing, professional services, agriculture – everything that goes on in New Hampshire.

We’re always looking for emerging trends that can help us tell a story about a segment of business in New Hampshire. How are small businesses responding to changes in health care insurance? What are technology companies and manufacturers doing to ensure they have the skilled workers they need? How will New Hampshire respond to its aging population? Who are the young professionals choosing to stay in New Hampshire and what contributions are they making to the state’s economy?

 

2. Can businesses still get a garden-variety press release published in the Union Leader anymore?

We publish short items generated from press releases, such as new business hires and related company announcements. But for the most part, we consider press releases as an entry point for a news story. We don’t publish press releases verbatim, though some might generate a short news item without further reporting.

 

3. What are a couple of things businesses can do to increase the chances their news release will be published in the Union Leader?

– Include the press release in the body of the email rather than as an attachment. That way, we see the information immediately and don’t have to determine whether it’s safe to open an attachment or waste time with something that is not compatible with our system. It’s OK to include the attachment, but press releases that arrive with no or very little information in the body of the email are less likely to get our prompt attention. We receive dozens of email inquiries every day. The inbox fills up all day long. Make it easy for us.

– Be brief, be clear, and avoid the use of superlatives. You might think your company is the “best-in-class industry leader,” but we’re not going to include that. Be familiar with what we publish so that your release demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to become familiar with what we do.

 

4. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve seen business professionals make in trying to get you to publish their news for them?

Be ready. Sometimes we respond to a press release that catches our attention only to find that the sources involved in the story are unavailable for comment or are unwilling to participate. Make sure everyone on your team is aware you are seeking publicity and that it could lead to an inquiry from a reporter. For example, if you are announcing your new expanded headquarters, we will want to know why you are expanding, how many employees you have, some details about your business model, how you secured your financing.

Remember that you are not in control of the story. If your goal is to publish something exactly as you submitted it, then you should consider buying an advertisement. Working with the media does involve some risk — we will likely talk to your competitors or other outside sources about what your company does — but a news story can bring credibility that marketing alone will not accomplish.

Also, we’re not publishing news about business professionals just as a service to them, but more importantly, for our readers. What stories would you be interested in reading when you pick up the business section? Ask yourself that question before you send a press release in the hopes that it will generate something more than a brief item. Will someone unrelated to your company be interested in reading this news? Make us your best pitch.

 

5. How do businesses best go about submitting a release for your consideration?

You can send it to us via email to finan@unionleader.com or to mcote@unionleader.com.

We are also launching online links for readers to send us business information.

To submit general press releases visit:

http://www.unionleader.com/section/Submitbusiness

To submit information about a business for our upcoming new business profile series visit:

http://www.unionleader.com/section/xsendmail_business

If you’re going to include a photo headshot, make sure it has a large enough resolution. For printing a thumbnail headshot in the newspaper 300 dpi (dots per inch) is good. We use those photos in our Newsmakers column about company hires, promotions, awards, etc.

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