As a PR consultant, I’m going to say something totally counter-intuitive – you don’t necessarily need to hire a specialist to do PR for your business.
Have I gone mad? Not quite, though some might say otherwise. You see, as a consultant who’s worked in the industry for a decade before setting up my own business, I totally understand the value of having an expert do your PR for you.
Clients hire me because I use my former-journalist news skills and PR know-how to get them into publications that speak to their target audience. I take care of all their media relations requirements, so they don’t have to, which frees them up to focus on their business. Also, because I live and breathe PR, I work more efficiently and execute my role to the greatest impact, getting them a maximum return on investment.
As an entrepreneur, you might not have the budget to hire a consultant like me, or a big PR agency or freelancer. When money is tight, PR seems like a luxury. I totally understand. As a newly launched PR consultancy, I appreciate that there is an opportunity cost to every pound spent, and in a sea of outgoings such as office space, website development, business cards, PR doesn’t really get a look in.
Yet here is the conundrum, entrepreneurs that don’t do any form of PR find their growth stifled, as people aren’t aware of their great product or service. Instead, bigger brands with bigger budgets are reaping the rewards of good PR. I tried to figure out a way around this, spending time with entrepreneurs like myself, figuring out a way to support them, and that is when I had my light bulb moment.
Entrepreneurs would rather do their own PR, if they knew how to. In general, entrepreneurs felt that they knew their brand better than anyone else, and that they’d rather learn how to do their own PR, both saving money on an agency, and having control of their work.
That is when I decided to provide another offering beyond consultancy in the form of PR masterclasses, to teach those entrepreneurs how to do their own PR, which is what they really wanted. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, and I have the pleasure of working with some fabulous solo-preneurs and entrepreneurs who would rather have a specialist look after their PR for them. But there is a definite need to empower more entrepreneurs to do some DIY PR.
And if that sounds like you, here’s a basic starter for ten on how to do PR yourself:
1) Read what your audience reads
Find out what your audience is reading, and see what stories are featured there. It might seem obvious, but it’s an often-overlooked first step to growing your brand.
Do you know what newspapers, magazines and websites your target audience consumer? For example, if you’ve got a fledgling jewellery brand, is your target audience pouring over fashion and accessory magazines? If you run a recruitment consultancy aimed at fellow business owners, are your customers scouring the web looking for business and HR advice?
Identifying these titles is the first step. After that, take a detailed look what is featured in the publications… Are there stories aligned with your business? What makes the news? What is the key point that is of interest? What angle does the journalist go for? What is the underlying message? Doing this research initially will pay dividends later in your PR efforts.
2) Find your stories
Next, think of what stories you have that these publications might like to cover. For example, if it’s a local newspaper, they often have a business section dedicated to championing local businesses. So they would be interested to hear about launches, anniversaries, business growth such as new hires – there are lots of options.
On the other hand, a business website might be interested in receiving an advisory article, so see what they’ve already written and offer something new and of value.
3) Get your pitch nailed down
To get a journalist’s attention initially, you need to summarise your story in one or two sentences. So ask yourself, what is the main point? It’s easy at this point to waffle on about your key objectives, mission, etc. but keep focused on the point that the journalist would be interested in, not what is a priority for you.
Cut out the jargon, keep your pitch concise. Have your key facts ready to read over the phone or email. It doesn’t have to be a perfectly written press release, but you have to convey the key points quickly and effectively.
4) Be human
Make your story about yourself, as well as your business. Journalists love a good human interest angle, so think about your own personal reason for setting up your business.
For example, a full-time mum who decides to sell organic detergent after her baby gets rashes from the off-the-shelf products is a really heart-warming PR story.
5) Find out how to approach journalists
Google is your friend for this. Most publications have the details of their editor and reporter online. So grab their email and telephone number, and decide how to get in touch with them.
People are often nervous about calling journalists, so if you feel the same, drop them an email with your short pitch first. If you don’t get a response, follow up with a call, and have your pitch in front of you so you don’t get tongue tied on the phone.
If you want to know what stories you might have in your own business that are PR gold, check out my free guide.
If you want to know more about my PR masterclasses, click here.