18 FAQs people ask about how to get PR coverage for their small business
- How do I get into the papers?
- How should I use social media for PR purposes?
- How do I find out if I've had media coverage?
- Can I put a media article on my website?
- What's the cheapest way for me to get into the media?
- If I put something on Twitter will my local paper pick it up?
- Is Facebook better than Twitter for PR?
- When is the best time to launch my product?
- Where does the BBC go to find businesses to film?
- How is PR different to marketing?
- Why is timing important for my news?
- How do I get the most value from a marketing calendar?
- What should I blog about?
- How do you prepare for an interview with a journalist?
- Which journalists should I target with my press releases?
- Which radio shows should I aim to get my business on?
- Which TV shows should I aim to get my business on?
- How should I plan my pitch to a TV or radio show?
1. How do I get into the papers?
There is one rule on content: provide content that people will want to read.
This generally means that it must be interesting, factual, different, and with a good, relevant, image.
Things that may seem interesting to you, such as your winning business strategy, are often of no interest to others. So test out what you want to submit with a trusted independent party and ask for honest feedback.
Finding the right journalists, and knowing when they want the content that you are offering, is critical.
2. How should I use social media for PR purposes?
Journalists use Twitter as one of their tools to find stories, case studies and spokespeople. Monitor the hashtag #journorequest regularly to find a comment request that matches with your business. This is an easy way to get your brand in the media.
Also, whenever you issue a press release, publicise the story on social media, linking back to a copy of the press release on your website. Not only do you want to communicate to your social media audience, you may also find that a journalist comes across your posts.
Finally, if you want to have a chance to catch the attention of a journalist, the best thing to do is to develop a relationship. Once you have prepared a list of journalists that could potentially be interested in your company, follow them on Twitter and react regularly to their posts. Like, share or comment if you can to get noticed. This is a good way to start building relationships.
By following them on Twitter, there is also a good chance that they will follow you back, meaning they will have access to the content you release.
3. How do I find out if I've had media coverage?
To find out if you have media coverage online, subscribe to Google Alerts. To use it, you need to sign up with your Google account; if you don't have one, it is easy to create one.
Then you just enter the term(s) you want Google to track for you.
So if you track our own name, the name of your company, your website, or the names of your products you will immediately know if someone is talking about you online. You can also monitor your competitors this way.
You can create as many alerts as you want. Google will monitor the web for you and send the results directly to your inbox.
There are other online tools for monitoring your brand online, and these tools allow you to track media coverage and any mention of your brand on social media. You will have to pay for some of these services.
Tools exist to monitor your brand in print media too. There are some services that are free-to-use, up to a point, and there are also services with more advanced searches and features that will cost more.
4. Can I put a media article on my website?
Having succeeded in getting media coverage for your business, make the media coverage available to anyone visiting your own website.
Perhaps your website has a news or a blog section, in which you can explain about the coverage and link to the original article. If you want to replicate the full article, get permission from the publisher first.
If you are achieving repeated media coverage, consider adding a 'Press' section to your website. If it has all the links to articles you are mentioned in, together with your press releases, it will give extra credibility to your business.
(Whereas websites with 'duplicate content' are penalised by Google, a single article about your own firm with a link to the original article is not the kind of duplication that Google is seeking to penalise. But if you want to be completely safe, you can add a 'noindex' tag to the duplicate article page, so it is invisible to search engines.)
5. What's the cheapest way for me to get into the media?
There are two ways to get into the media: a paid advertisement (or paid advertorial), or getting a journalist to include your business in an article.
Advertising costs money. You know what you are buying, but unless you advertise regularly and have monitored the results, you do not know what results you will achieve.
PR only costs you your time if you do it all yourself. But there is no guarantee of results unless you know that you can supply exactly the kind of story that the journalist is looking for.
In some cases this is easy. For example, some trade magazines have sections that cover job moves; if you have just hired someone, it may be easy to publicise this - making your business look more successful. But achieving repeated positive coverage about your company is a different matter.
If you have an interesting story to tell, and you have taken the time to develop a strong relationship with a journalist, there is much more potential to get your story into the media. These relationships are usually the key selling point of PR agencies; you pay to access the agency's media contacts. The agencies talk to the journalists on a weekly basis and should know what each one is looking for.
6. If I put something on Twitter will my local paper pick it up?
A local journalist may find your tweet if it uses hashtags that the journalist is looking for. For example, if you are going to hire a food stall pitch at the Ledbury Food Festival, use the hashtags #Ledbury #food #festival when discussing it on social media.
Any journalist looking for people to interview for an article about that festival will then be able to find you.
Keep your eyes open for journalists who are looking for businesses like yours. Here is an example of a local journalist (at Worcester News) requesting contacts via Twitter:
Whenever a journalist from your local paper is engaged in a Twitter conversation that is relevant to your business, that is your chance to engage with them.
However, avoid trying to sell to a journalist if they are not looking for what you are offering. Directly tagging a journalist in a tweet (by adding their Twitter account name) or sending them a direct message that pushes your own agenda is likely to make them actively avoid you.
7. Is Facebook better than Twitter for PR?
Although Facebook has the most users of any social media platform, and is excellent for engaging with consumers, it is not the best option when it comes to PR.
Twitter is considered the best social media channel to gather news, stories and information.
Twitter allows you to connect freely with all sorts of other people, not just journalists. By engaging with other suppliers in your area, or in your sector, you can grow your profile. All of this helps when it comes to getting out your PR messages.
8. When is the best time to launch my product?
You will usually want to start selling your product as soon as it is ready to sell, but choosing the date to announce the launch of a product is a different matter.
Many businesses launch products at the time of a trade exhibition. This can create a buzz just when the maximum number of people, including journalists, are taking an interest in the businesses in your sector.
Alternatively, you may be able to piggy-back on a news story that you know is already running, or is about to run. For example, if you know that a government report on child obesity is due to be released, and you are launching a new sugar-free snack, this is a PR opportunity.
You may be seen as a knowledgeable person and your product may be seen as part of the solution, spicing up what might otherwise be a dull news item.
9. Where does the BBC go to find businesses to film?
The journalists and researchers from the BBC are no different from any other journalists when it comes to finding suitable businesses to work with for particular projects.
Firstly, they use their existing contacts, including PR companies that can suggest a shortlist of suitable companies. It is easiest for a journalist to start with the people that they already know, which is why some businesses go to great lengths to get to know the key journalists in their sector or area.
Secondly they use Google and social media to find what they are looking for. So having a strong online presence gives your business a better chance of being approached.
10. How is PR different to marketing?
Marketing covers every aspect of your business being seen and experienced. Advertising, websites, social media, brochures, exhibitions and events, client entertaining and PR (public relations) are all part of marketing. So is your customer care and even how you sell.
So PR is part of your 'marketing mix'.
PR is the way you communicate with the public and media. Your aim is to communicate with your target audience directly or indirectly through media, to create and maintain a positive image and to create a stronger relationship with the audience.
11. Why is timing important for my news?
Timing is important as you are trying to get journalists to write about you, and they will only do that if it suits their agenda.
So, either your news needs to be so compelling that a journalist will want to cover the story immediately, or you need to fit in with the publishing schedules and changing interests of the journalists.
Their planning will centre around ongoing news themes, news that is anticipated, or perhaps a feature the journalist is going to write.
12. How do I get the most value from a marketing calendar?
A marketing calendar enables you to see the planned timing of your marketing.
Keep a tab on key news dates in your industry. If you know when some key data is due to be released, or an announcement is due to be made, you can prepare a comment in advance and send it to your trade magazine immediately, beating your competition and maximising your changes of coverage.
Look out for potential awards you can apply for. Consider entering any competitions that you have a realistic chance of winning. Even if you are only shortlisted, this is still third party recognition that you can publicise on your own website for a start.
13. What should I blog about?
Blogs are a way of communicating with whoever visits your website, to persuade them that you are the right person for them to do business with.
The aim is not just to demonstrate that you know how to do what you do, as most visitors to your website will take it for granted. Instead, the aim is to make visitors like you and take an interest in you.
So a builder who specialises in roofs may want to communicate that they always arrive on time and tidy up afterwards. The blogs may be about jobs they have done, pets they have encountered or compliments that they have received about tidiness.
Clever communication like this will leave readers confident that the new roofs will not leak and the builder will not overcharge - without ever having to make these assertions.
Likewise, a divorce solicitor's blogs can convey that the solicitor is easy to contact and easy to talk to. Visitors to the solicitor's website are not going to be interested in detailed blogs about particular points of law - indeed 'that kind of lawyer' may be the last person they want to help them.
On the other hand, if your business sells technical expertise to other experts, technical blogs may be appropriate. So a divorce barrister - whose blog is aimed at the divorce solicitors that introduce clients - may write law-based blogs that are aimed at the solicitors.
In any case, a successful blog generally does two things. It speaks to your ideal customers and it provides value for them.
Blogging is a skill that not everyone has. So consider using a professional writer (a copywriter) to help you.
14. How do you prepare for an interview with a journalist?
Prepare with three audiences in mind: you, the journalist and the reader. You need to make sure the brand message delivered is the one you want. What are you trying to achieve?
Then prepare for what the journalist wants. They usually need facts, figures, and something different and interesting to hook them. What interests one journalist may not interest another, even on the same publication, so it pays to know what your journalist is keen on.
The third audience is the reader. You need a convincing case to show that the readers of the publication (or website) will want to read about your story.
15. Which journalists should I target with my press releases?
When you send a press release or comment into the media, think what publications (or websites) will be interested. If a publication has not covered stories like yours in the past, there is no reason to expect them to cover them in the future.
If there are several journalists writing for a publication that you have identified, the next step is to work out which one is most likely to be interested in your story. For example, different journalists may cover news and features: which one fits you?
If journalists receive press releases from you that they feel are irrelevant, it will be harder getting them to cover you in the future when you really do have a good story for them.
16. Which radio shows should I aim to get my business on?
You need to understand the show's format, audience and content. Does your business fit the stories they usually run? Do they have the right audience for your business?
Local radio offers all sorts of opportunities. For example, every time the minimum wage goes up, you will hear businesses being interviewed. When an employment law issue hits the headlines, a solicitor will often be called in to explain. When the town council gives planning approval for a large project, there is an opportunity to discuss the impact on the business community.
17. Which TV shows should I aim to get my business on?
Like radio, you need to understand the show's format, audience and content. Does your business fit the stories they usually run? Do they have the right audience for your business?
18. How should I plan my pitch to a TV or radio show?
Be aware of the programme's lead times. A daily show can source interviewees on the day; however, for a feature or series they may start sourcing businesses months before they are due to air.
If you are pitching on something that has happened in the news that day, you need to make sure you are available to go to the studio. You also need to know your facts and be clear on your opinion. It will only be a short interview and you want to be remembered for your engagement and interesting views, rather than your lack of knowledge.
Julie has a master's degree in marketing and communication, majoring in public relations. Before joining JournoLink she worked in marketing for a number of startup businesses, both in France and the UK. She now runs JournoLink’s marketing efforts and works closely with their partners.