Have you had your fingers burnt when hiring PR agents or agencies? Did they tie you into an expensive six-month retainer but didn’t deliver the results you were expecting? Or do you just want to do your own PR but don’t know where to start?
Fear not – here are my secrets on how to get into the press.
When I first started on my entrepreneurial journey, a friend (who runs The Mumprenuers Networking Club) said something that really struck a chord. She said: “Every day you must do at least one promotional activity in order to drive customer and brand awareness”.
So with those words ringing in my ears, I really went to town and mastered how to get into the press.
Through huge amounts of perseverance I secured press coverage in many of the major glossies and national newspapers. Here’s my step-by-step method to ensure you get results.
Once you have got into the press, make sure you say thank you to the journalist. Then add the piece to your website and share it on social media.
You have a fabulous service, brand or product that you, your family and friends and a growing band of customers love — but why can’t you get the press to fall in love with your offering?
You may fall into one of these categories:
The feeling of overwhelm can be powerful. But as a business mentor told me at the very beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, you need to do some promotion on your company each and every day. If you aren’t going to do that, then no-one will (unless you pay a PR agent). So go and do what you do best — enthuse about your business to interested parties.
If you have already had some press coverage by being spotted at an event or via Twitter, you must ensure that you maximise this opportunity as much as possible. Firstly, thank the journalist for their piece — you never know when you may need to speak to them again.
The next step is to politely ask them for the PDF version of the news story. If you can’t get hold of this then buy the publication and include a scan of the piece in a dedicated Press section on your website. You could also add the newspaper or magazine logo to your home page to give you extra credibility. Then share the image or promote a link to the coverage across your social media platforms.
When you are in the thick of running your business, you often neglect to articulate your USP. It’s worth asking friends and customers to take part in a focus group to establish what makes your business special. These are the kind of questions you should be discussing:
Once you have done this brainstorming, I can guarantee you that some lovely golden nuggets will have appeared. Now use this information to write a simple sentence that describes what your company does. Don’t forget to include your golden nugget. This sentence will then work as your elevator pitch, whether you are selling, networking or pitching to a journalist.
Amanda Ruiz is known as the ultimate door opener. She is the founder of www.amandaruiz.co.uk, a marketing and PR agency.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.