If the idea of approaching the media and doing your own public relations makes you feel a little daunted, you’re not alone.
Most of the time when I’m talking with a small business owner about what I do, I often hear how “mysterious” the world of public relations and media seems to many people. It’s petrifying to email their local paper, or they thought they had a good idea for a breakfast television segment but they didn’t know how (or to whom) to pitch the idea to.
The truth is that public relations isn’t that mysterious. But what we need to remember is that they have a job to do – and our roles as business owners is to help make that job a little easier.
So if you’re a small businesses looking to make that first step toward doing some public relations and approaching the media, here’s 5 of my top tips:
Connect with your local media first
Connecting with your local media is a good first step. Every town, region, and city has a handful of media outlets that are focused solely on local people and events. These could include newspapers, magazines, radio and television.
You might even have a handful of online web programs being produced in your own backyard that you don’t even know about.
Find them, and connect with the reporter who tends to cover stories most relevant to you or your business. For example, if your company has a sustainable living focus, you might seek to connect with the environmental reporter.
If you don’t know who that might be, call the switch and ask, get an email address and then shoot the reporter an email simply to introduce yourself.
Read publications (or watch TV shows) you’d like to feature in
Don’t be tempted to skip this tip it’s probably one of the most important relationship-building exercises you can undertake.
It’s the height of rudeness in public relations and media land to suggest a story idea to a publication if they’ve recently covered it – or worse it isn’t an angle or story they would normally feature. This shows you’re not familiar with their work.
As a publicist representing a number of brands and personalities, this adds up to A LOT of reading for me on behalf of my clients, but I consider it a vital part of my job to take a magazine down to a nearby beach in the middle of the day and read it cover to cover (PR is hard work!).
Get a press release
A press release is simply a document that alerts the media that something newsworthy is happening or has happened. It’s designed to provide context and a framework from which a story can be developed.
But you can’t just dump any information in to a document and call it a press release. The most effective press release contains all your key messages and positions you the way you want to be positioned!
Sometimes, particularly for publications with scant staff, if a press release is written well-enough it may be reproduced as an article. For this reason, consider having your press release either professionally written, or attend a media release writing workshop.
A well written press release can be one of the most powerful tools in getting more PR for your biz.
Sign up for press call outs
Journalists are always on the look out for people and experts to help inform their articles and provide comments.
There are a number of subscription-based services available today designed to connect journalists with experts or PR reps. By subscribing, you’ll receive email alerts whenever a journalist has posted a call-out looking for a particular source.
Sourcebottle is one of the most widely-used and budget-friendly subscription services and is great if you’re an expert in a service-based industry, while Social Diary is more pricey and consumer, event and lifestyle focused. Find the service that is right for you.
Make your website media friendly
This is another really important tip if you’re just starting to do your own public relations. Spend the money on a copywriter and web developer to make sure your copy is easy to read and your site is easy to navigate.
A news room or press room is also a great idea if you aren’t represented by a publicist or agency. Have a tab clearly marked News Room and house a photo gallery, biography and any videos or showreels you’ve created.
Be sure your contact details are clearly listed so the media can get ahold of you.
Want tips like this and more? Join Ilona and Wendy at their new PR + Public Speaking Workshop on Saturday 11 October 2014 in Sydney. More details can be found here.
About our guest blogger:
Ilona Marchetta has more than ten years of experience in communications, spanning journalism, public relations, digital media, marketing and copywriting.
Today Ilona channels her experience and her love for content and public relations into helping women who run their own business get the right publicity, through Pitch PR.