PR is a great way for a small business to raise its profile and get noticed by customers and potential clients. For many small businesses, however, it's a daunting and difficult area to crack without experience or contacts
Your first step is to understand the four key ways you can get press and media coverage:
Shout about the news you have
This involves contacting journalists with your news. It often requires drafting and issuing a press release and talking to journalists by phone. It's worth remembering that journalists bin the vast majority of press releases they receive, so you need to ensure that your press release abides by certain rules and actually has some news in it.
The other major grumble journalists have is that they are approached with stories that are not relevant to their audience. Doing a bit of research goes a long way - your aim is to build relations with journalists, not annoy them.
When you don't have any news to shout about, create some
There are certain requirements of a news story that a journalist looks for. If you know what they are, you can create a news story. For example, journalists like stories that present something new. They also like stories that include the results of research. So, you could carry out, or commission, research relevant to your business sector and get some press and media coverage on the back of it. Likewise, announcements that are linked to anniversaries are popular with local publications. Stunts also fall into this category. The type of news you create will need to be tailored to the specific publications or programmes you want to target.
Comment on other people's stories
Barely a week will go by without a story appearing that you could comment on. You can send in a letter to the editor of a publication or contact journalists direct if you can add something to the story - a fresh insight or angle. Get to know what key journalists are writing about so you can identify what appeals to them.
Become an expert
It's not all about news. You can also make yourself an expert and provide in-depth analysis and comment on a topical or relevant subject. Journalists are always seeking potential interviewees and experts to help them fill airtime and provide fresh content. Research your key media to identify possible opportunities and approach them with ideas. Radio shows with regular phone-ins are ideal, as they are constantly looking for topics to cover.
Written by Debbie Leven of The PR Coach.