This post may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can find my full disclosure page here.
Note from Lisa: PR is a great way to spread the word about your business. But knowing how to get PR isn’t a skill that comes easily to some freelancers. (I know it doesn’t to me!) Thankfully, Julie from GetInThe Press offered to share some of her great tips with us in this guest post. Keep reading to learn how to do your own PR as a small business owner.
Take it away Julie…
Have you ever wondered how to get your business in the press?
I’m not talking about paid-for advertising here, but when business owners are used for their opinion in magazines or on the radio. Or how a business has its product reviewed in the press?
In this PR guide, we will walk you through some easy steps which you can implement into your business plans. These plans are budget-friendly and perfect for freelancers and work-at-home moms.
We’ll demystify the world of PR and give you some affordable ideas you can get working on today, to improve the chances of your business achieving press coverage for free.
What is PR?
PR – or public relations – is about your business building up good relationships with both your customers and your media. It’s about connecting with influential people within the industry who can help spread the word about your business.
PR is about creating an on-line presence so that you are positioned as an expert in your field, as a credible business, and that people start to recognise your brand name.
And the amazing thing is – this can be done for free.
How Does PR Work?
I was amazed when I first started giving talks about PR to small business owners and many owners thought you had to pay a newspaper to appear in an article.
They were shocked when I told them that no, you don’t pay to appear in a paper, in fact, sometimes a media outlet will pay you for your story!
If you are interviewed as a spokesperson or have your product reviewed in a magazine you don’t have to pay for this. Media outlets are always on the lookout for news content.
Journalists put out requests daily for new commentary, experts, or brands to take part in articles. They are always on the hunt for news, statistics, expert opinion, and products to review.
Just look at any page in a magazine – perhaps a round-up of must-have accessories, books or kitchen gadgets. The information comes from press releases.
The journalist’s job is to find content for their page or radio show.
You are there to help them find content relevant to their readers.
How Can You Hook Your Product or Business into a Carefully Crafted News Story?
There will be a team of researchers looking for stories – but if you can bring the story to them, you stand a better chance of being featured. And this applies to newspapers, online magazines, websites, radio, and even TV shows.
A journalist receives hundreds of press releases every day. Their inbox is overflowing with press releases. Some of those are the lucky few which lead to a snippet of coverage in the media.
You just need to find an angle you hook onto and write a press release. To help you better understand the process, let’s look at an example.
Possible Angles for a Press Release For a Company
Let’s say the client is a children’s swimwear company.
Here are some of the PR angles the company could pitch to journalists:
- The right age to take your baby swimming
- How to find swimming lessons for your baby
- Can your baby swim before they have their vaccines
- Does your baby need SPF at the beach
- How should you teach water safety to toddlers
Notice that none of these angles overly promote your product. However, they all give you the opportunity to position you as an expert in your field.
What is a Press Release?
A press release is a document you write and send to journalists.
The job of your press release is to get all the facts of your news to the journalist. You are effectively writing a non-biased news article that you hope will be picked up by the press.
There are tons of free templates available online which are ideal for small business owners.
But first let me tell you a little secret…..
You don’t always need a press release.
PR Agencies will hate me for telling you this.
But sometimes just great connections and keeping in touch with your media list is all you need. You may secure coverage simply through a phone call conversation or an email pitch.
One day, your contact may need a spokesperson for a quick quote on some industry news and you can pop them a quick email with your thoughts…or even better they might call you.
Details to Include with Your Press Release.
When you’re ready to write a press release, these tips will help:
- Stick to one page A4 and keep your paragraphs short and concise.
- Remember the 5 W of any news story – what, why, when, where, how.
- Avoid fluffy superlatives.
- Stick to the product facts.
- Include a quote from a credible company source or some statistics to back up your claim.
- Include a high-res image.
- Put in your contact details.
Journalists are actually very keen to hear from you – but your press release has to be relevant, targeted, and newsworthy.
Once you understand how the media world works, it becomes a lot easier to look for relevant PR angles in your business. You’ll soon learn how to craft angles, develop stories, and send these to your media contacts.
Having a third party refer to your work helps improve your credibility.
The Difference Between Advertising and PR
While both advertising and PR can get more eyes on your business, there’s a big difference between them.
Advertising is paid for. PR coverage is free.
With a paid-for advert or advertorial, you pay for the space and words that appear in that piece of coverage. You have control over the content and length of coverage, budget dependant.
But having someone else do this for you – through the medium of PR is much more credible.
With PR you don’t have any control over what is covered, and the coverage is not always guaranteed. But when it works it will work wonders for your business.
How to Start Doing Your Own PR as a Business Owner
Now that you know some of the basics about doing your own PR as a business owner, let’s talk about how to get started.
First, think of the type of media your customers would use. Is your ideal client more likely to use the radio, printed and online media, or newspapers and magazines? Do you provide services regionally, or are you nationwide? Do your clients read any trade or consumer publications?
Now really think about the type of media they would read. This could be online parenting blogs, regional business magazines, chat shows on the radio, or anything else.
Then within those types of media research the relevant contact to you. Look for the editor of the parenting page, lifestyle magazine, or trade publication.
You can use the inside of the magazine, the website or even Twitter to find out these details. Try it today. Set a goal to research five contacts and get in touch with them.
You can put a simple spreadsheet together of your main contacts, or write them down in a notebook. This way you can easily refer back to it.
Send Out Your Press Release
Years ago clients would send their printed press releases out in the mail. This is something you could still do, but there is a cost factor involved.
The majority of press releases today are sent via email.
You can also use a PR distribution service – which offers different packages.
Distributing using a PR service has the advantage of the distribution company already having the contacts and your press release is more likely to be picked up.
Find Newsworthy PR Angles for Your Small Business
Here are some budget-friendly PR angles you could try:
- A new business launch
- A business anniversary or award you have won
- Moving into a new location or taking on a new contract
- New research from a study you have conducted
- Your thoughts on some relevant business news that would impact your customers
Here are some other ideas you can use to help spread the word about your business:
- If you launch a competition ask your media contacts if they will promote it for you
- Provide something your contacts in online or printed media can give away
- Offer your product for review (this works well with bloggers in your niche)
- Set up a networking group or join a relevant one
- Visit in-person networking events and offer your time to give a talk (perhaps with some timely advice on bookkeeping, tips for web design, or a how-to that would interest the attendees)
- Write guest posts for other sites and offer your advice there
- Allow others to write guest posts for you
- Create your own hashtag
- Run a regular Q&A session on social media
- Take part in networking hashtags currently going on Twitter
- Call a journalist and ask if you can meet up for a quick coffee to introduce yourself, offer some news in your industry, and find out more about their work.
Get PR Ready
No matter what type of PR you plan on engaging in, it’s essential to get your small business PR ready.
Put a media pack together. It doesn’t have to be a glossy printed brochure, you can make one in Canva. Simply have a folder on your computer to send with some good photos of you (head and shoulder shot and full length) so you can attach them to accompany any press stories that may come about.
Search for #journorequest on Twitter. This is a brilliant way to connect with journalists and find out what stories they are working for. Journalists will use this hashtag to ask for experts, spokespersons, or products when working on a feature or news piece.
Think about upcoming holidays and key dates, such as Mother’s Day, school holidays, or spring cleaning, and think about how you can hook these into your PR angles.
Don’t Give Up When You Do Your Own PR
Journalists need people like you to send them stories. Don’t give up if you don’t hear back at first. Keep going and learn by each call you make. It’ll get easier each time. And you’ll get there.
Not yet a small business owner? Check out these posts to help you get started.