No matter what you call it — PR, publicity or simply putting yourself out there — there’s no disputing the power public relations can have for your business. PR is a proven way to build awareness and credibility on a tight budget.
Like many small business owners, you know you need to get your business out there, but you probably don’t know where to start. The good news is that PR is something you can do yourself. When done correctly, you can get results that will help you meet business goals. But before you dive right in, here are five specific PR strategies you’ll want to consider.
1. Nail Your Story
Before you do anything make sure your story is concise and complete. Would your grandma understand if you told her your story in 30 seconds or less? If not, you need to go back and refine your story until it is crystal clear. Do not drink your own Kool-Aid and lose sight of the fact that most people won’t get your message unless you keep it simple.
2. Don’t Default to a Press Release
While press releases are a legitimate PR tool, do not automatically default to using a press release. There’s a time and place for a press release, but when it comes to working with the media, it’s a supporting player. A customized one-on-one short email pitch to the right contact is more apt to produce results than blasting out a release to hundreds of contacts on a purchased media list.
The key to great pitching is research. Make sure you do your homework to find the right targets, how they cover stories and their contact preferences before you hit send.
3. Play Locally
When you are starting out, local media offers a great way for you to get experience working with the media and telling your story. You can reach prospects in your direct community who are more likely to trust you and do business with you. Plus, all that practice with your local paper or TV station quickly becomes social proof when you want to move on to national or international media outlets.
4. Consider Trade Publications
Most industries have a number of trade magazines or blogs that would be the perfect target for your news or contributed articles. For example, if you are a travel agent, you could look for outlets focusing on travel as well as lodging, hospitality and other areas. Once you’ve done that, say you plan a lot of family getaways, then you could look for other areas that are relevant to your niche such as family or parenting magazines. These types of media targets are often looking for articles written by professionals. This is a great way to become an expert in both the eyes of your industry and prospective customers.
5. Be Ready and Responsive
When you are engaging with the media, ensure you have time and can be responsive. Make sure they have all of your contact info and can reach you easily.
If you aren’t the spokesperson, ensure that your assigned media contact is available for interviews or other opportunities. There is nothing worse than getting a call after pitching a media outlet to find out that the founder is out of the country! Be ready to work with short deadlines and make things happen for the media. Your ability to deliver quickly will help set you apart and position you for other opportunities.
By following a few guidelines from the get-go you can easily conduct media outreach like a pro and possibly boost overall sales and marketing efforts in the process.
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Maggie Patterson is a PR strategist who works with entrepreneurs to help them master PR basics and use them to rock their business. With 15 years of experience in the trenches working with media and bloggers, she believes the key to great PR is strategy, a great story and a bit of sass.