As Oscar Wilde so sagely pointed out, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. If you’re self-employed, running your own micro-business or if you’re working for someone else or in a larger company, you need people to know who you are and what you can do for them. It can help you find customers and make sales, get a new job or establish you as an industry ‘player’ or someone of influence.
While PR (public relations) as a discipline looks at the management of reputation and perception by the public, for most individuals or micro-businesses, it’s about gaining coverage in the media. Editorial coverage (as opposed to advertising or advertorial) carries a third party endorsement of you or your products/services that can provide a brilliant way to engage with potential new customers or those you need to influence. Here are 4 top tips to help you gain that all-important coverage.
- Most editorial coverage is based on news – i.e. what’s new. What’s new in your business that you could talk about to the media? Are you launching a new product or service? Do you have a new event coming up? Have you released some new research or statistics? Make a list of all the things that could be new in your business at some point over the next year or so – these are all potential PR stories.
- Think about PR in advance, not after something launches. For most micro-businesses, the biggest story they’ll ever have is their own launch, when the business itself is new. Yet many of those businesses fail to capitalise by leaving PR until after they’ve launched and are no longer new. They then find it much hard to get a journalist interested in them as there will be other start-up businesses who are newer and thus more newsworthy.
- Work out which media outlets you need to appear in to reach your target audience. What do they read, listen to and watch? Which blogs do they read? If you’re not sure, ask some of your existing customers what media they consume. Chances are that if your target customers are similar to your existing customers, they’ll read or watch the same media outlets, so you know which ones to target.
- Start building relationships with journalists. Even if you don’t have a story at the moment (or you haven’t launched yet), start building connections. Most journalists are on Twitter, so find the journalists that write for your media targets and follow them and interact with them. You can even tweet them when you’re ready to tell them your story, so they’re ‘warmed up’ to receive your press release.
- Most journalists will want to see your press release as it’s still the best way to communicate your story. When you write your release make sure it has the most pertinent information about your story at the top, answers the 5 ‘W’s (Who, What, Where, When and Why) and is written in 3rd person, in the house style of your target outlet. It should read like a news story, not an advert.
PR is a bit of a ‘no-brainer’ for most micro-businesses, as it’s free access to a potentially huge audience. Make sure it’s part of your marketing plan and look forward to seeing your name in the papers. If you think you need some extra support to launch your PR campaign, why not buy my book, The Authority Guide to PR For Small Businesses?