Driving awareness is a key challenge for any start-up, and a major part of what I do with the businesses I work with. As a budget-efficient channel, PR is often called upon to help achieve this objective – and whilst we will often call our PR experts into the team – I do think business owners can do much themselves, particularly in B2B or service businesses. A recent Business & IP Centre event focused on this topic with some top tips on how to make yourself a media maestro.
Chairing the panel event, Matthew Rock from Real Business set the tone – championing the idea of thinking of yourself as a brand, and how having a clear point of view can prove a strong asset. The event panel included Jonathan Moules – FT’s enterprise correspondent; Louise Third, a PR specialist; and Rob Pittam – former BBC correspondent. There were some consistent themes coming through in how to approach raising the profile of your business:
- Plan (no surprises on this one from me but…) identify your business objective and your target audience;
- Decide on the publications you will speak to based on what this target audience reads;
- Do your research on these publications before you approach them (read them!).
- You always need a hook – you either need to create a compelling hook for your story, or you need to jump on a trend or news story to respond to with your story;
- Focus on a real person’s story where you can (business owner, customer story);
- Think ‘so what?’ in relation to your press release. Is it really newsworthy? Will this be relevant to your target publication?
- Write your press release in a style that suits the publication you are targeting.
Selling it in…
- Find out the actual journalist that looks after your area. If you are clear on your target audience, you’ll find there is probably only a handful of journalists you want to speak to – and that is not too many to build a relationship with;
- Give journalists warning. No-one will feature an event that happened yesterday. Instead give them a few days warning and invite them along;
- A process point, but email first, then follow up with a call;
- Be passionate about your story – passion is infectious;
- Don’t be afraid to call news rooms, they are looking for stories after all;
- Take feedback on the chin, listen and go back with improvements;
- Be comfortable with losing a little bit of control, it is the journalist’s story not yours;
- Don’t tell them what to do, they are the experts and it is their job to know what is newsworthy, if they say it isn’t then try a new story, or a new publication.
- Be realistic in what coverage you target and expect – start small and work up;
- Always remember that you cannot guarantee PR coverage, you have to earn it, and sometimes even the best sold-in stories can get knocked out if a huge news story hits;
- Follow up and don’t give up… just one serious piece of coverage can make a huge difference to your business!
Written by Christina at The Nurture Network: The on-demand marketing department for start-ups and entrepreneurs – making expertise and resource available just when it is needed