You don’t need a degree in public relations to effectively publicize your business to the press. What you do need is a clear understanding of how to reach reporters and what they’re looking for. These 10 tips will get you started.
- Know what makes you newsworthy. This differs for each media outlet. If you own a restaurant, the town newspaper might be interested in your grand opening. An industry magazine might be interested in your chef’s unusual management style. A “green” publication might write about your commitment to the environment.
- Join a free press release distribution site. Sign up with sites like PR.com (www.pr.com), PRLog.org (www.prlog.org) or Free Press Release.com (www.free-press-release.com) to distribute your press releases to search engines for free. You’ll also find guidelines for writing a good release.
- Make your website media-friendly. Create a pressroom or media area with links to past publicity, and an “About Us” section highlighting your mission and key employees. Make it easy for the press to contact you—you’d be surprised how many sites don’t.
- Go where the reporters are. At ProfNet (https://profnet.prnewswire.com) and Help a Reporter Out (www.helpareporter.com), members of the media post queries seeking sources for articles. Use both sites to open your business to a world of publicity opportunities.
- Know your target. Before pitching a media outlet, be familiar with the website or publication. Know what topics the reporter covers (his or her “beat”) and what angles he or she is likely to be interested in. This helps you tailor your pitch to the person’s needs.
- Become a resource. When you see information that might help a reporter—such as industry statistics or a local trend—pass it on. If you’re helpful on a regular basis, you’ll be top-of-mind when the reporter needs a source.
- “Sell” your pitch. Most press releases today are sent by e-mail, and reporters get hundreds of e-mails a day. Break through the clutter with a subject line clearly conveying the benefit to the reporter and why your news should interest him or her.
- Offer an exclusive. If you have a ground-breaking product or service, or really want your company mentioned in a particular media outlet, offer an exclusive. Giving an influential reporter the first chance to publicize your news can create more incentive to write about you.
- Network. It’s easy to find out reporters’ beats and what they’re interested in. Get active on social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with members of the media and see what they’re working on.
- Don’t forget bloggers. PR once meant targeting print publications or TV shows, but bloggers have become equally important. Many bloggers post multiple times a day, so they’re hungry for news. Read their blogs, post comments and cultivate them as carefully as you would any other member of the media.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Before launching her business, she was Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and read more of her insights on SmallBizDaily.com.to sign up for her free TrendCast reports.