Posted by: patenttranslator | December 17, 2013

How To Get Your Local Newspaper To Write A Human Interest Story About Your Translation Business

Newspapers are full of gloomy news these days. People are losing their jobs, and if they do have a job, they seem to be barely squeaking by. There are seven pages of home foreclosures in Washington Post, my local newspaper, just about every day.  It is so depressing to keep reading about the great recession (we are not supposed to call it “depression”), which officially began in 2007 and is expected to last until about 2070, or until the planet Earth is obliterated by a huge asteroid, whichever comes first.

So why not treat the world to some good news for a change …. about your wonderful translation business?

All you need to do is write a short press release about your business, send it to a few newspapers and one of them should bite.

I tried it three times, and it got me two fairly long articles about yours truly and his interesting job over the years, one in a newspaper in California, and one in a newspaper in Virginia.

Each time I sent my sweet and short press release to several newspapers, including New York Times and Washington Post. The New York Times ignored me, of course, as did Washington Post, and The San Francisco Chronicle published only a few words in the column listing registration of new businesses in 1987.

But after I moved from San Francisco to Santa Rosa in 1994 and sent another press release to Press Democrat, the main newspaper in the Sonoma Wine Country, which was a decent paper back then, the newspaper promptly sent a reporter and a photographer to my office to put together a human interest story about my translation business.

The article was featured on the first page of the business section and it made me feel like a celebrity for a few days. I remember that when I was walking to my favorite bookstore on Fourth Street, a man sitting on a bench looked at me and said “Aren’t you the man in today’s newspaper?”

“Yes, I am”, I responded, without slowing down. Obviously, celebrities featured on the first page of the business section don’t have the time to chitchat with people who just happen to be reading a newspaper on a park bench.

If you live in a place that still has a local newspaper, that paper probably has a business section which publishes, usually once a week, a human interest story about local businesses. Most of the time these are businesses like doughnut shops, restaurants, car repair shops, or home-based catering businesses. And because a translation business is a different kettle of fish than the usual kind of story, the chances that your local newspaper will be interested in your story are pretty good. Since they have to write about something, seven days week, they might as well be writing about you.

You can e-mail your press release to the reporter who writes these weekly columns. Obviously, it should start with reference to last week’s most interesting story written by this person.

Something like this:

“Dear Ms. Green:

            I read with great interest your article about Pete’s Donut Shop last week …..”

and then you can introduce yourself and your nifty translation business. Just make sure you don’t forget the “I read with great interest your article” bit.

After I moved to Virginia in 2001, I sent the same kind of press release to Virginian Pilot, my local newspaper, and it worked again. The paper sent again a photographer and an article about my business was published in the Sunday paper, including again the same kind of picture of the entrepreneurial translator, staring at a computer monitor, surrounded by thick dictionaries (translators were still using dictionaries in 2001).

My neighbors were duly impressed, especially Geoff, the real estate agent, who saw immediately how useful something like that could be for his business.

Back in the nineties, I was using the article from Press Democrat for my mailing campaigns instead of a brochure or a résumé. Nobody wants to read a résumé, but most people will find the time to read a short newspaper article. Since the article about you was written by another person and then published, perhaps your business is the real deal. You can then put a link to the article on your website or blog which will make it easier for Google to find your translation business.

Most translators are spending most of their time and efforts trying to market their business through social media. But when everybody is doing the same thing, how do you stand out from the rest of the crowd?

You can do that by going back to the old technology of dead tree media, while it is still around, and then linking a professionally written article about your services, including a photograph of you, your office and your tools of trade taken by a professional photographer, to the new media on the Internet.


  1. Thank you for the useful “out of the box” advice. And for the second video 🙂 Merry Christmas and all the best for 2014.


  2. And Merry Christmas and all the best to you for 2014 from Mad Patent Translator!


  3. What Graça said 🙂


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  5. […] Newspapers are full of gloomy news these days. People are losing their jobs, and if they do have a job, they seem to be barely squeaking by. There are seven pages of home foreclosures in Was…  […]


  6. […] di marketing per iniziare bene l’anno. Sto anche pensando di provare a mettere in atto questa idea, che vale un po’ per chiunque lavori in proprio, non solo per i […]


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  8. Hi

    I have read with interest the information on this site. My blog is about human interest stories and I hope to one day have them published or write for a local paper. Any hints will be much appreciated.



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