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Become the media maestro for your business

March 20, 2014 by Christina Richardson

Become the media maestro for your business/A 3D newspaper - We're in the news{{}}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.

 And finally…

  • 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.

Posted in PR | 0 comments

How to raise your profile as an entrepreneur

February 12, 2014 by Marc Duke

How to raise your profile as an entrepreneur/Richard Branson{{}}Every entrepreneur needs to focus on PR — as founder you are often at the centre of the PR story.

You have to make sure that as many people out there know about your product/service/company as possible and make this happen as cheaply as possible. PR is the answer. It’s cheap and its power immense. But the question is how do we do it? More to the point, what exactly are we “PRing”?

Image: Richard Branson, courtesy of Gulltagen on Flickr.

Technology start-ups

Many technology start-ups rush to appoint a PR bod or an agency to spread the word or to build the profile of the founder. I have heard many an expert tell me that for a start up to be successful the PR has to be great, even better than early revenues or a killer product. Get your company mentioned in Mashable, TechCrunch and VentureBeat and it’s job done.

But how? That’s the tricky bit. You love your company, in fact you live for it, that is why you are an entrepreneur. Chances are everyone you know will have heard the elevator pitch, even if you are nowhere near a lift. But to get PR your story needs to be different and relevant to your audience. What if you are whizz in developing a product, devising the strategy but don’t see yourself as a celebrity entrepreneur — then what?

PR targets

Think carefully. Before you appoint someone, think about payment for results and how you will use the coverage they generate. Exactly who do you want to speak to, and what publications/titles/sites do you want to appear in/on. It’s all about the targets.

One final point, you might not think of your story as interesting but the fact that you have the guts to be an entrepreneur is, without bragging, an inspiration to others so always talk to journalists about what you are up to. You never know where it will lead.

Marc Duke is the founder of Marc Duke Consulting.

Further reading: 

Posted in PR | Tagged start-up, PR, entrepreneur | 0 comments

How to get press coverage in 2014

January 29, 2014 by Amanda Ruiz

How to get press coverage in 2014/PR on wooden cubes on newspaper{{}}If you run your own business you need to juggle many balls — the financials, stock, display (online and offline), networking, social media management, staff… the list goes on.

But one thing that all entrepreneurs must try to keep on top of is brand awareness — so that new customers can discover you easily and so that your existing customers feel good about seeing your company getting mentioned in the press. This kind of visibility will encourage customers to pick up the phone and order your product or services again.

Press coverage is free editorial — not paid-for advertising. If you haven’t tried to get press coverage to date, here are 12 essential steps that will help you get your company some valuable media coverage in 2014.

You will need to roll your sleeves and go for it, because if you don’t employ a PR agent (either in-house or on a contractual basis), then no one is going to do it for you. The fact that you are passionate about your product or services is a great start.

So let’s dive straight in and get some press for 2014.

Create the right mindset

1. Have a thick skin and be persistent: you could get plenty of push backs, but keep on trying, don’t be put off by rejections from journalists, the next journalist you call may love your product.

2. Be creative: try and think outside of the box to come up with interesting angles for your media approaches.

3. Have confidence: pick up the phone. If you believe in your product and are passionate about it, that’s half the battle.

Get your tool kit straightened out

4. Good images, both high and low resolution, are essential.

5. Strong copy: make your words punchy and to the point in order to catch attention.

6. Prepare your website: add a new page with links to your images and the news you are promoting.

Do your research and find an angle

7. Buy the target magazines or newspapers or read them online to find out more about their approach and to get the key contacts details.

8. Follow journalists on Twitter: You will see up to date information on what they are covering. You can also check out these two hashtags:  #journorequest #PRrequest.

9. Identify your story: Is it a product launch? Profile piece? Case study?

10. Come up with a grabbing headline and use this in your email subject box and as the title for the press release.

11. Use statistics where possible, this gives credibility to your story. Provide a quote and if possible get one from a satisfied customer as well.

12. Always say thank you to the journalists when they publish your story.

Good luck and go for it!

Amanda Ruiz is the founder of www.amandaruiz.co.uk, a marketing and PR agency.

Posted in PR | Tagged press coverage, PR | 0 comments

It's me, not you...

April 04, 2013 by Ashley Carr

It's me, not you…/trompet{{}}It might seem like the right thing to do, but blowing one’s own trumpet can often lead to disenfranchised customers and uninterested prospects. After all, it’s not about you is it?

But therein lies the rub — we are taught in business that headline-grabbing figures of growth, size, and market domination are all good things. But too easily in this environment, companies can get caught up in the “me” and forget about the “you”.

Do your customers really want to be repeatedly told of your success — to be bludgeoned by unrelenting news of your size in the market and how many users or systems you have sold? Will they flock to your banner if you give them your latest profitability and revenue figures and tell them how really well you are doing enjoying the benefits of their custom?

Dialogue not monologue

Or do they really want to hear about how you are going to help them get to the next level; help them to grow and flourish in their particular market?  And all the time you are monologuing, you could be missing out on having a dialogue over, say, social media.

This is where talking to your market about their market can set you apart from your competition and from those people who are determined to win the contest about who has the most users or systems sold, or for that matter, bells and whistles on their product or service.

Your customers want to hear that you understand their market — that you understand their problems. They will sit up and listen if you can identify with the issues and drivers in their space, but they’ll be positively ecstatic if you can demonstrate that you are proactively pursuing a programme of activity in your product or service that actively addresses the needs that you have shown you understand.

Thought leadership

Talking to your market about their market — or thought leadership — is where you separate yourself from the gaggle of other suppliers in your space. Being prepared to stand up and be counted in recognising your customers’ issues and their market drivers and highlighting that you can do something to help, will elevate you to market leader status not based on size, but based on reputation.

Yes, there is a place for talking about your successes — of proof points with customer stories and case studies — but this should be the undertone, not the main thrust of your messaging machine.

A well-prepared and executed campaign of thought leadership will attract the attention of the commentators in your industry; the journalists and analysts whose job it is to talk to the market about the market. Give these valuable contacts the material they need, making it easy for them by giving it to them in a timely and consumable manner, and you’ll steal the lion’s share of their coverage, getting even more people pointing at you as the perceived market leader. Not because you are biggest — but because you demonstrate you truly understand the market.

Actually, it’s you, not me…

Ashley Carr is the managing director at Neo PR.

Posted in PR | Tagged thought leadership, PR | 0 comments

PR tips for start ups

November 21, 2012 by Matthew Lobas

PR tips for start ups/PR wordle{{}}Attracting quality press attention for your start up business can be an uphill struggle. Here are our top tips for gaining media coverage. 

Make it personal

Each and every approach must be personalised. Let’s face it — nobody likes to be nameless. Avoid sending bulk emails with hundreds of recipients under the BCC tag. Most servers are auto-configured to junk incoming emails when the BCC is active with multiple emails.

Spend the extra time researching every recipient. Yes, it’s time consuming, but it will deliver results. Your conversion in terms of responses will definitely increase.

Target specific media

If you’re not clear about your target audience, then how can you execute an effective public relations campaign?

First of all, focus on the niche publications — these are your heavy hitters. Think of them as little gold mines, waiting to be found and crying out for your news. Who views them? A high majority are people solely interested in that specific topic. They are also used as research hubs for journalists from national newspapers.

By contrast, the national media titles tend to cover a broad range of topics and finding the most relevant point of contact is often laborious. Use the website search function to find relevant articles similar to your news and check the author profile.

Another great media opportunity is niche blogs. Land of the free speech, make sure they are floating high on your research list.

Make a list of all the journalists you want to target and consider making a smaller list of the key journalists that you would like to build relationships with. Keep them in the loop, invite them to your events, schmooze them! Focus your main efforts on this select group of journalists every time you have a story to convey.

Old school

The way that journalists get their hands on news has changed dramatically over the past decade. Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms are real-time news hubs. Stories can go viral before they are even picked up by media sources.

The days of Ivy Lee, who created the first modern press release, have all but gone. Fax machines and snail mail are still a viable delivery method but they just aren’t used that often.

So why not use this to your advantage and go old school? Fax your press release and avoid the cluttered mailbox of a journalist. Traditional mail is another good option — you can use fancy paper, a nice envelope or even send a gift.

Get prepped

When you're pitching to the media, make sure you have all the assets a journalist might need, ready to send off at a moments notice. But don’t send these first time — send them to those that request them. 

• A photo to go with your story;

• A screenshot of your product/website in multiple formats and sizes;

• Your company logo in multiple formats and sizes;

• What makes you different that your competitors;

• Additional quotes from relevant persons;

• A document with facts/figures about your business.

Matthew Lobas is account manager at Pressat.

Posted in PR | Tagged PR, media coverage | 0 comments

Are you making the most of your PR coverage?

November 07, 2012 by Peter O'Shea

Are you making the most of your PR coverage/pile of news papers{{}}Securing media coverage is often at the very heart of a PR campaign. There is no doubt that it is a great way to drive awareness among new customers.

But the effort shouldn’t end with the successful publication of coverage.

Having secured it, the smart business will share it, particularly among existing customers.

Why sharing media coverage makes good business sense

Firstly, it reinforces the business’s credibility. Unlike an advert, a piece of editorial coverage has the endorsement of an independent journalist. It is trusted. Sharing it with customers can strengthen their perceptions of the business.

Secondly, it demonstrates that the business is newsworthy and professional. It inspires confidence.

It is also a great way of staying in touch with people. Updating customers with new snippets helps keep the business front of mind.

And it’s not just in sales that media coverage can play an important role.

Virtually any VIP that a business wants to impress, is likely to be influenced by positive media coverage. It could be an industry association, or a partner organisation, or new staff that the business is trying to recruit. The list goes on.

How media coverage can be shared

For sales guys, media coverage can be worth its weight in gold. Showing it to existing or warm customers is powerful stuff. It makes their pitch much, much more believable.

Likewise, putting it on the website is a must. Not only will it impress visitors, it will help keep the website’s content fresh, which search engines like.

Other areas to consider displaying it are: sales brochures, exhibition stands and office/reception areas. 

Giving a little thought as to how media coverage can be fully utilised, can reap big rewards. After all, if a business has worked hard to secure media coverage, it would be foolish not to make the most of it.

Peter O’Shea is the founder of POS Communications; for a free PR consultation, visit www.poscommunications.co.uk .

More guidance on PR:

Why it pays to seek publicity

A complete guide to writing an effective press release

* Q&A: PR for start-ups

Posted in PR | Tagged PR, media coverage | 6 comments

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