The way brands are now built, especially the new breed of start ups and solo ventures is constantly evolving. As someone who started working in PR over a decade ago I have closely followed how the media industry has and still is evolving. With more focus on social media as a way to communicate along with the rise of content marketing and the arrival of "influencers", all of these things have affected the PR industry and therefore how we as entrepreneurs and business owners can use PR as a tool to market ourselves and our businesses.
The great thing now is that working with the media as a small business has become much more accessible and it is easier to incorporate PR into your marketing mix without having to outsource to an agency. You just need the time, skills and insights to get started.
One of the reasons I began coaching and mentoring female solopreneurs is because I believe that as a business owner, you are the best person to publicise yourself and your business. No one knows your business as well as you do. From your story to your success and struggles, along with why your business exists and the difference your product or service makes to your target audience, there is no one who can speak as passionately about your business as you can.
There is also a growing appetite from the media who are seeing our entrepreneurial stories and expert comment from business owners so there is no reason why you shouldn't be putting yourself forward for opportunities.
PR is still one of the most effective ways to build your brand and if you follow some simple steps and create a strategy aligned with your goals it is more than possible to get results.
1- Good PR is all about relationship building
It all begins with relationship building and this has become increasingly important as the media landscape has shifted and evolved. Journalists and PR's don't communicate with each other in the same way they used to and they are more likely to use platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn or just good old email to pitch an idea or send out a #journorequest.
Social media is an amazing and FREE way to build relationships and also get your message in front of a lot of people. It should be part of your overall personal brand building efforts and you should certainly use it as part of your media outreach. It's amazing how effective it is as a PR tool.
Most journalists and freelance writers are on social media and they use it as a way to interact with brands and business owners and to find stories. Make it your focus to build your contacts and seek out people who have an interest in your business/industry. What are they taking about? can you start a conversation with them and being to get on their radar?
2 - Content is an essential part of your PR toolkit
In the old days sending out a press release en masse to a database, crossing your fingers and waiting for coverage to come in was the norm. Now brands have to work a little smarter to get their message out there.
So if we are taking the press release out of the equation how do you know what to pitch?
You will most likely already have a content plan in place in your business which might include blog posts, LinkedIn features, guest post content. Any content you create has to work hard and it's worth considering what can be tweaked for the media when you are planning out what topics you are going to cover.
One thing to remember is that your content needs to be tailored to meet the audience you are aiming for and it needs to provide value, be interesting and NOT overly self promotional.
3 - Spend time perfecting your pitch
Pitching isn't the easiest thing to do if you haven't done it before but if you follow a few simple steps, know your brand and business inside plus you are pitching on a regular basis you will become more confident and the process will become second nature to you.
Remember not everything you offer is going to be met with a yes! The key is to keep working at it, developing your ideas and focusing on offering interesting and innovative content and stories.
Whether you're pitching for an existing feature, offering expert comment, a new story idea or content make sure you can outline your offering in a couple of paragraphs. It's better to offer an initial intro especially if you are emailing a new contact.
My Top PR Tips to get you started
- Sign up to the Journo Request daily email from Response Source and also follow the hashtag on Twitter
- Make it a priority to keep up to date with the news and developments in your industry so you can identify key opportunities to pitch, offer comment etc
- Start creating your own media list with names and contact details of the publications and writers you would like to approach. Also use this to track outreach and responses each time you reach out to someone
- Create a basic pitch outline and have it ready to send out as and when you want to intro yourself to a new contact
- Show that you are aware of what the journalist/writer has written about before and refer to something specific they have covered recently. Then you can use this as the basis of your pitch and offer some comment/content/story idea for their next feature. This is excellent for relationship building as it shows you have an interest/awareness in their work and you can also offer value and expert content.
- Include links to your social media accounts in your pitch email so they can take a look at your different platforms. This is a really quick way for them to get an insight into your personal brand and what content you are sharing.
A final note.. be patient!
PR is an investment and you have to be prepared to be in it for the long haul. Think of it as a way to enhance your message, build your brand and support the growth of your business. Focus on relationship building, always offering value and becoming known as a reliable industry expert.
If you’re interested in learning more about coaching, book your free discovery call with me at firstname.lastname@example.org