How to use PR to build your business
When I talk about PR and how it is such a great tool to help build your brand, I often get met with blank stares, or comments such as ‘my business isn’t ready yet’ or ‘I wouldn’t know where to start’.
It’s completely understandable as a solopreneur building your business whilst working in your job and on other projects, that PR can seem at best a luxury for those who are further ahead, or at worst another time-consuming marketing tasks which will take you away from the important work of your actual business.
In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
As an entrepreneur, I firmly believe that you can, and you should, be getting publicity from your business early on in your journey.
Done well, it’s a great way to quickly build your credibility, get seen by more of your dream clients, and even perhaps even more importantly – it’s free!
Research has shown that consumers are far more likely to react to and buy products or services which have been featured in an article, as opposed to a traditional advert.
A great article in a magazine or on your favourite blog works as a free endorsement. Think of it this way, you want to get your hair cut, but you don’t know where to go. How do you find a good hairdresser? You ask your friends for their recommendations because you trust their judgement.
This is exactly the same with the press. If you see a fabulous pair of shoes featured in your favourite magazine, you automatically think – well, if they like it, it must be good…. I must buy it! Or perhaps you’ve read about a well-being spa or technique on a top blog site. Chances are, if it struck a chord and resonated with you, you’ll visit their site, follow them on social media, and maybe even join their newsletter. Things become instantly more desirable when they have been featured in the press.
When I talk about PR and the media, people also often think that I am referring to the transitional press – newspapers, magazines and the radio. Whilst this still has its place, increasingly consumers are turning online, whether it be blogs, podcasts, news sites or digital magazines, for their daily news or lifestyle fix.
This is great news for us entrepreneurs. Editors and journalists are crying out for great stories and exciting new products or services to feature. Whilst there is a place for bringing in PR agencies once your business has grown, as small business owners, you are perfectly positioned to give them what they need, and many would prefer to hear directly from the owner too.
So, how can you actually get your business featured in media?
Before you get started, there are certain things you can do to help you craft the perfect pitch and maximise your chances of getting a mention in the press.
- Think about which publications or shows your target audience are actually likely to read or listen too. If you’re not sure, then reach out and ask some of your dream clients. Once you have a list together, take the time to read or listen to a few of them. Before you even think about contacting an editor to pitch your article, you need to make sure you are clear about the kind of stories they write about. That way, you can tailor your pitch accordingly and increase your chances of coverage ten-fold.
- Put yourself in the shoes of the reader. Think about what they are going to find interesting. For every idea for a pitch that you have, ask yourself ‘so what?’ Is it relevant to the reader? Will they be affected and ultimately care? Always come at your PR from a place of giving – how can you add value to the reader and make the editor’s life as easy as possible? If you get this step right, they will come back to you time and again.
- Jot down some ideas for ‘hooks’. A hook is something which will get the editor or journalists attention, and make them want to feature your story. Perhaps your business started from an unusual background, or you are doing something groundbreaking. Ask yourself how many people are affected by what you have to say. Journalists are looking for stories which are genuinely newsworthy, inspirational and interesting. Have a think about the stories you hold within your business – whether they be yours or those of your case studies too.
- Send a brief email, introducing yourself and outlining your story ideas. You don’t even have to send a press release at this stage. What’s most important is that you think of this as opening up the conversation, instead of it being your one and only chance to pitch. Twitter is a good place to connect with journalists and editors, but again don’t just send them a cold pitch out of the blue, listen, and start conversations first.
And remember the golden rule of PR – Be helpful, and be open to suggestions, this will stand you in good stead to get some amazing coverage and really see your business fly.
About Rebecca Miller – founder of Write & Reach and creator of The Publicity Program
Becs is a Publicity Coach & Huffington Post blogger, whose passion lies in teaching inspiring, creative and transformational entrepreneurs how to raise your profile through PR. She spent nearly a decade working in the industry, as a press officer for top not-for-profits and an international NGO. From broadcast to blogs, podcasts to glossy magazines, her clients have been featured across the media in places like the BBC, By Nature, Paleo diet & Fitness, Bloomberg.com, Making Jewellery Magazine, Devon Life, Work Out Magazine, Thrive Global and The Huffington Post to name just a few.
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