Does PR sound a little scary to you? Aylen De Aranza of It’s the Now gets back to basics to help you understand what PR is and how you can use it to promote your creative business in six simple (free!) steps. I’m so glad she mentions Google Alerts because it’s a tool I love using and one everyone should know about.
I often get asked about cost effective ways creatives can use PR to increase media exposure for their product or services. PR can seem expensive or daunting to take on yourself but read on! I’ve demystified what PR actually is and outlined easy and effective strategies to get that much needed exposure at next to nothing!
So what is PR?
PR is managed communications between your brand, your audience and the media. PR isn’t about being a ‘spin doctor’, it’s not about fabricating stories or fiction. It is a planned strategy to get others talking about your brand and is essential to your marketing and social media strategy as they all work together as part of an integrated marketing campaign.
A PR strategy can do wonders for getting your name out there and covers a number of elements including community relations, risk management, employee relations, media relations and publicity. I’m going to cover media relations and publicity as this is usually the primary needs of small businesses, as a business grows so do their requirements and that’s when the other elements come into play.
6 Steps for DIY PR
1.Make it easy for others to write about you.
A press page on your website is an absolute must have for businesses. Make it easy for bloggers and media to write articles, blog posts and reviews by having all the important information readily available for them. On your press page, you should include downloadable high res images, logos (in various formats) and any press releases you may have. It’s also a place where you can display the coverage you’ve received and toot your own horn as it also adds credibility (and media love that!). Be sure to tell others to share your story, brand and purpose and ask them to always link back to you, even email you and give you the heads up so you can thank them! Don’t forget it wouldn’t be a proper press page without providing the links – make everything is as easy as possible for people to reference back to you. This strategy not only gets the word out about you free of charge but it also helps to boost your SEO.
2.Start listening with Google Alerts.
PR is very much about listening and tuning in to the things that are trending and relevant in your industry and that relate to your product or service. Setting up Google Alerts through a Google account is free and by simply adding keywords that are relevant you’ll stay abreast with all the news and developments within your industry. I recommend setting up 10-15 and making them relatively specific so they’re tailored to your niche as well as adding your own business name to track alerts. It’s a cost effective way to listen to what others are saying about your brand both for exposure and also from a risk management perspective. By listening and looking out for mentions of your keywords you’ll get a great understanding for which journalists are writing about your niche, how they write and which media platforms to target. This makes it so much easier when you’re looking to find the right journalists to target and the direction to pitch to them.
3.Get to know media outlets and reporters.
Aside from setting up Google Alerts, immerse yourself in media that is related to your industry. Open the paper, get to know who writes which articles, trawl Google and social media sites like LinkedIn to gather all the contacts that would be relevant to you and don’t leave any stone unturned. Listen to Podcasts, look for YouTube Reviewers and really get to know the media around you before making any contact. Begin to build a database of the contacts you have identified and the platforms you have established your audience is getting their information from.
4.Know how to pitch.
Be clever about how you pitch and who you pitch to. Journalists are inundated with press releases and pitches so make sure you’ve done your research. If you’re unsure about how to write a press release you can find a free template here. Don’t send out a mass email to a large list of media contacts hoping that out of the many one will cover your story, it’s spammy and PR is all about communicating within your niche. Do your research, get to know different media outlets and the topics individual journalists relevant to your industry are writing about. When you have a clear idea and do decide to pitch, have a great angle, something that’s current and newsworthy.
5.Sign up to Sourcebottle and HARO.
Sourcebottle and HARO are subscription websites that connect media with brands and work twofold; by providing businesses daily email alerts of call outs and by businesses serving as sources for media stories. So, what’s a call out and why would you want to be a source? A media call out is when media outlets request information to add further weight to their story (this is sent out via the daily alerts). By registering as a source, media will make direct contact with you for your input which benefits both parties, one with extra content (them), the other (you) with exposure. Typically publications are looking for expert comments, interviews with particular people or products that relate to their story. For your contribution, you receive coverage that mentions your brand or, even better, it’s an exclusive feature and has now opened a door to an important media relationship.
6.Position yourself as an expert.
Position yourself as an expert in your field by offering to write a guest post for a blog. It’s enticing for the blog as it’s a free piece of valuable content for them and, meanwhile, you’re getting your name out there and establishing yourself as a trusted source and expert. Offer to become a speaker at industry events or trade shows, even guest speaking at events and lectures, get involved with industry bodies or events related to your business or enter awards that recognise your work. This provides valuable publicity in return for your time, adds credibility to you and your business, and can even provide an angle for a new press release for you to pitch out to media. Once you establish credibility, media will be coming to you!