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. At this point many business owners shy away from the prospect, but you can use great online PR tools like Press Ocean to help construct effective releases and manage your PR then use our step by step guide here to help along the way:
Spend time planning…
- 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 – look at past and current publications, look at who is writing what, and look for key themes in what they write about.
Work up your story…
- 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; it might be the business owner, a great start-up story against the odds, or a 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.
Sell it in…
- Find out the actual journalist that looks after the area of the publication you think your story should feature in. 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;
- In terms of making contact – most journalists prefer to get an email first, then you can 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 Richardson, a business marketing specialist and founder of The Nurture Network: The on-demand marketing department for ambitious start-ups, and entrepreneurial SMEs – bringing great marketing people into your team just when you need them.