PR can be a great way to spread the word about your business, to put yourself out there and to generate new business but for many businesses I’ve worked with it’s also seemed like a bit of an unknown force, something that only big businesses did and something that couldn’t be achieved with the time and resources available.
As a result, it’s a marketing channel which is often overlooked for small businesses but that’s a mistake!
Here I share some practical tips for utilising PR in your small business marketing efforts
Know the difference between Earned and Paid
There are lots of definitions but for the purpose of this blog I like to keep things really simple, if you submit a press release to a media outlet and they publish it, that’s earned PR, you created the content and distributed it and it got picked up - for free, Paid PR, is where you’ll pay for the pleasure, lots of media outlets offer the opportunity to place adverts and editorial for a fee, it’s generally something I’ve seen SME businesses shy away from but my view is it’s worth considering particularly as part of a targeted campaign.
Do your research
You know your business so you’ll know what your press releases are going to be about, what you don’t know is who is likely to feature them and why. Read about the same topics you’ll be covering, take note of the publications and journalists which cover them, follow the journalists on social media and engage with them on these channels. You can also go for the direct approach and email them! They will not bite!, and it opens the channels of communication, you can even ask outright if they’d be interested in hearing from you about the topics in question.
Get the press release right
There are plenty of online resources available on writing a press release, writing styles vary but some important things to remember, journalists are time poor so help them out! Firstly a press release isn’t the same as a blog post or announcement on your website, give them all the information, who are you, what does your company do, why do they want to be reading this - get this covered in the first paragraph. Don’t cram too much in, even if there’s loads of stuff going on right now in your business, keep it focused and don’t forget the useful stuff, include a photograph, some quotes and your contact details.
Take advantage of online tools
When it comes to getting your PR out there I’m a firm believer in the direct approach you to the journalists that you’ve already identified as targets but if you’re looking for a more widespread approach then news distribution services like PR Web or Real Wire can be a valuable tool at an affordable cost. Tools like HARO (Help A Reporter) allow you to register as a source meaning journalists can contact you when they’re looking for an expert in your field, the #JournoRequest hashtag on Twitter is also a great resource for those looking to increase PR reach by connecting you directly with journalists actively looking for input.
Don’t take it personally
Not all coverage will land. Not everyone will pick up your press release. This is ok. It’s easy as a small business (I know, I’m one too!) to take it personally, why is there no interest in what we’re doing? Why does no one want to cover it? But the reality is there can be lots of reasons and unless you work in that newsroom you’re never going to know what they were. The key here is to ensure the strategy on your side is sound, make sure you’re targeting the right people with the topics you know they cover, keep working on developing those media relationships you know will be useful and the coverage will come.
And one final tip, do not repeatedly follow up. Journalists hate this. Seriously don’t. Following up once is fine, after that stop.
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