For most start ups and small businesses, one of the best ways to acquire new customers and create brand awareness is by getting some media buzz. This means you’ve got to dive into the business of PR, also known as public relations.
For the first full year of my business I did all PR in house, myself. In my second year of business I hired a PR firm to free up some of my time. To my surprise, I actually received way more press when I was doing it myself. So after six months of working with a firm, I fired them and took over PR again. Today I’m sharing with you the ultimate guide on how to do your own PR.
Surprisingly enough, getting media coverage isn’t as hard as most would think. Just to be clear… I didn’t have ANY connections prior to starting PR for my brand. I didn’t have a famous uncle or an aunt that was an editor at a major magazine. I had NO idea what I was doing… at first. Make sure you’re taking notes people, because I’m showing you exactly how it’s done:
1. What’s your story? (hint: make it worth writing about)
Just like you, editors are always wanting to give the people what they want. They’re constantly looking for stories to write that they know their readers will be interested in. Devise a story with an interesting angle on it.
"Devise a story with an interesting angle on it."
Cool, you own a jewelry business. So do a bazillion other people. What makes YOURS more interesting than the other? Now, a jewelry business that makes 100% of all their jewelry from recycled metal… is totally worth writing about. Figure out what it is that makes you stand out above the crowd, what makes you better than the 100’s of other people in your industry and create a story around it.
Don’t think too much into this. Everyone has a story, you just have to find yours and go with it. Maybe your business is providing stay at home moms the opportunity to work from home, maybe every T-shirt you sell you donate a portion of the proceeds to a charity of your choice, maybe you’re a blogger that only takes photos of items that are green.
Whatever it is, make sure you write it in a way that’s interesting enough that the editor can’t pass up this fun, new and interesting story. Pretty much, you want to make it as easy as possible for an editor to pick up your story and write about it.
2. Become and expert in your industry
How do you become an expert in your industry? By saying you are. Viola, that was easy. No, but seriously. You just being in your niche makes you an expert. By now there’s no doubt you’ve already built some level of know-how, give yourself a bit more credit yo!
"By now there’s no doubt you’ve already built some level of know-how, give yourself a bit more credit, yo!"
When pitching to a blogger, reporter, editor, etc. establish your expertise and make it clear that you know exactly what you’re talking about. This will give you the upper hand and make you a reliable source for future endeavors. Think long term here. You want these editors to use you multiple times, anytime they’re thinking of writing a story about this particular topic, you want them to think about you and reach out for your expert advice.
3. Be strategic with quotable content
So this is a sure-fire way to get you some press. I’ve found the best way to pitch to editors is through email. Image having 100 emails to open on the daily. Out of these two email subject lines, which one would you open:
Subject: “Press Release: New Product Announcement for Mothers”
Subject: “Product XYZ Launches to Help Mother’s Stay Organized While Staying Super Stylish”
Make sure your subject line is eye catching, yet at the same time gives them a quick preview of what the email is about. The body of the email needs to be JUST as strategic. There’s nothing more boring than a really long email of text. Want to make sure your emails DOESN’T get read? Write really lengthy and boxy paragraphs that aren’t easy to skim.
"You want to already give them some catch phrases to use. Some quotes they’re able to use in their story. Do the hard work FOR them, while making it super easy to skim."
You want to already give them some catch phrases to use. Some quotes they’re able to use in their story. Do the hard work FOR them, while making it super easy to skim. Try to avoid lengthy paragraphs, instead try using 3-4 sentences to make up a paragraph. This breaks the text down and makes it much for manageable to skim when someone doesn’t have a lot of time.
You’ll want to strategically put in some great quotes and bold them so the editors eye goes straight to them. I’ve found that many times when I do this, the editor uses my exact quotes in their article. Make these quotes newsworthy and easy to roll off the tongue.
4. Pitch the right person
The worst thing you could do is send a pitch to an editor of a media outlet you want to be published in, just to make a connection with that publication. Do your homework and reach out to the right individual. What I mean is, you don’t want to be pitching your newly designed shoe to the beauty or food editor. There’s nothing more annoying to an editor that reaching out to them with a product/story that they normally don’t even cover. Often times, they’ll actually get offended.
"Do your homework and reach out to the right individual."
Go back and read who’s writing what, at which publications. Only reach out to editors that are covering stories similar to your or are covering storied that are in your niche. You’ll impress the editor by showing that you’re familiar with their work and specify why you reached out to them specifically.
5. Engage with the editors
One thing that’s proven time and time again worth my time, building a relationship with the editors I want to reach out to. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I will send a blind email here and there. But most of the time, I’m pretty strategic on how I approach them. I make sure to comment on their content, articles, stories, posts, etc. I like to share their posts with my customers and readers.
"I’m pretty strategic on how I approach them. I make sure to comment on their content, articles, stories, posts, etc. I like to share their posts with my customers and readers."
The more I engage with them, the more familiar they get with me and know this isn’t just a one sided relationship. This puts me on their radar. Actually, may times the editors have reached out to ME at this point. If not, they are familiar with me and know who I am when I reach out to them via email for the first time.
6. Follow Up
Last but definitely NOT least, follow up. If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say, "yes I reached out to them but I never heard anything back". Well did you follow up?
I can't stress this point enough. Just because you didn't hear back immediately, doesn't mean their passing up on your story. Imagine how busy these editors are, stories to write, deadlines to meet, the amount of emails they get in their inbox. You aren't their top priority. Many times they read your email, find it interesting, write it down to follow up... then their to do list gets stacked with more crap to do and your story gets pushed to the bottom.
"Just because you didn't hear back immediately, doesn't mean their passing up on your story."
It's YOUR duty to follow up. I'll say that most of my press was received AFTER I followed up a second or third time. Trust me, you're not bugging them. Many editors expect that you'll follow up with them at some point. Some actually depend on it.
By following up, I don't mean sending an email everyday asking if they like your story. If you don't hear back after about 7-10 days, then send a quick and to the point follow up email. If you still don't hear back, send another follow up email 7-10 days after that. After the second follow up email, I wouldn't follow up again.... move on with your story with another outlet.
Now that you've got the perfect guide for doing your own PR, you better freaking use it!!! Don't be afraid to get out there and start pitching. Go get yourself some damn press... you deserve it! To help get you started, I've put together a pitch outline to help you nail your pitch every time. Click below to download it now and keep it handy to use as a guide every time you're pitching!
Professional Gangsta Boss