PR might sound like a scary word, with expensive connotations, especially if you are a startup or solopreneur. However, if you are short on money but big on passion for what you do, and willing to dedicate some precious time and effort to it, then there’s no reason why you can’t get some PR for your business DIY style!
1. First - get your story straight!
Do some soul searching and write down the reasons why your company, brand or product is different. There will be a story in there somewhere, it’s just a matter of taking the time to find it.
For example, is there anything interesting about your startup journey? People love to hear about how a person or company succeeded against all odds, or came back from the brink of disaster. Perhaps you gave up the corporate life to follow your dreams? Have you met or worked for anyone famous? Who or what inspires you? Review your achievements to date and train yourself to see them from a reader’s point of view.
2. Write a press release
Writing press releases is a great way to help you get into the mindset of promoting your company news consistently and professionally. There are lots of great tips and advice to help you write your first press release. Hubspot have created a free Press Release Template here.
Publish press releases to your website to keep people up to date and to provide fresh, original content to search engines. Share them on social media and with your contacts to spread the word.
If you have a particularly big piece of company news; perhaps you’ve opened a new office or won an important contract; it might be worth paying a little extra and submitting it to Press Association news wires to reach lots of targeted journalists quickly.
3. Build your thought leadership profile
Start guest blogging for industry websites and blogs and leave comments on the blogs and forums you know your audience read. This will also have the added benefit of improving your organic inbound link profile!
4. Build relationship with influencers
Reach and build relationships with journalists and other media influencers on social media.
Twitter is a great way to seek out relevant media influencers and contacts. Do a Twitter Advanced Search for titles like ‘Web editor’ ‘Journalist’ and start building up your own PR influencer list.
Top tip: search #journorequest regularly and reply to any relevant requests.
You can also sign up to receive requests for information and stories direct from reporters with the free Help a Reporter Out (HARO) service.
5. Competitor watch
Keep an ear and eye out for where your competitors are getting press mentions. It’s much easier to get featured by a journalist who has already covered similar topics or themes. Set up Google Alerts for each of your competitors to get notified when they are mentioned.
6. Media pitching
Make a list of the publications and blogs your ideal customer reads and the websites they frequent and start brainstorming story ideas.
Most articles will have journalist bylines so spend some time reading other articles by your chosen journalist or writer before you reach out to them. Follow them on Twitter and Google+ and share their content with your followers. Get a feel for what topics they cover and consider whether your brand angle or story is a right fit for them and their readership.
7. Start local
Local papers and radio stations are always in need of fresh, interesting content for their audiences. They are often far less intimidating and easier to contact than national press. While local coverage may not be as glamorous, it could still get you in front of your ideal customers, raise your profile and increase brand awareness in the process.
8. Leave the fear behind
Journalists are lovely but very busy people. Don’t take rejection or a lack of response personally. If you take the time to research the journalists you want to make contact with, and email them with a story or topic you genuinely think their readers will interested in, you are more likely to be successful. At the very least, your thoughtful approach will keep you out of their automatic spam pile.
That’s it for now! Go forth and get some well earned PR coverage for your startup or small business in 2015. You can find lots more help and advice about DIY digital PR at http://digitisethis.com/blog.
Elizabeth Malone-Johnstone is a Chartered Marketer and Digital Marketing Consultant based in London. She has experience of working with FTSE100 companies and leading marketing software providers, as well as not-for-profits, independent retailers and startups. She founded the digital marketing consultancy, Digitise This, in 2014 to provide expert digital marketing advice and support to startups and SMEs in the UK and Europe. You can follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @digitisethisuk to stay up to date on all things digital!