Driving awareness is a key challenge for any small business. As a budget-efficient channel, PR is often called upon to help achieve this objective and there are plenty of PR experts out there that can help. But I do think business owners can do much themselves, particularly in B2B or service sector. Many business owners shy away from PR — here is a step-by-step guide to getting some coverage for your business:
Spend time planning
- Identify your business objective and your target audience.
- Decide on the publications (or online media) you will speak to based on what this target audience reads.
- Do your research before you approach them — look at past and current coverage, who is writing what and identify key themes.
Work up your story
- You need a hook. That means you either need to create a compelling hook for your story or you need to jump on an existing trend or news story.
- Focus on a real person’s story where you can; it might be the business owner, a great start-up story against the odds, or a customer story.
- Think “so what?” before you send your press release. Is it really newsworthy? Will this be relevant to your target publication?
- Write your press release in a style that suits the publication you are targeting.
Sell it in
- Identify the actual journalist that looks after your kind of story. If you are clear on your target audience, you’ll find there are probably only a few key journalists you actually need to build a relationship with.
- Give journalists a few days’ warning about any event you are holding and invite them along.
- In terms of making contact — most journalists prefer to get an email first, then you can follow up with a phone call.
- Be passionate about your story — passion is infectious.
- Don’t be afraid to call media news rooms, they are looking for stories after all.
- Take feedback on the chin, listen and come back with improvements.
- Be comfortable losing a little bit of control, it is the journalist’s story not yours.
- Don’t tell them what to do, they are the experts and it is their job to know what is newsworthy, if they say it isn’t then try a new story.
- Set realistic expectations — start small and work up.
- Always remember that you cannot guarantee PR coverage, you have to earn it. Sometimes even the best stories can get knocked out if a huge news story hits.
- Follow up and don’t give up … just one serious piece of coverage can make a huge difference to your business.
Christina Richardson is a business marketing specialist, mentor and founder of The Nurture Network. She is also co-founder of the Brand Gathering community, helping young businesses to grow by working together.