By: Jules Brooke, Handle Your Own PR
Whether you do it yourself, or you employ an agency, all small business owners should be doing PR as part of their marketing mix. Even accountants, gardeners and window cleaners can get publicity for their business if they know how. Including PR along with any advertising or digital marketing you do, is a great way to enhance awareness of your brand.
PR is all about getting free media coverage. If you can offer a good story or article to a media outlet, they will run it for free. No money exchanges hands. That’s where PR differs from advertising. Well, that and the fact that having an editor, or radio or TV presenter tell people about your business is much, much more powerful than seeing an ad. People don’t buy magazines and newspapers or watch TV for the ads, do they? It’s all about the stories.
The other great benefit of PR is that it gets your potential customers coming to you, rather than having to go out and find new leads. Hearing about your business, from a blogger or magazine that they like, creates instant trust for people. They figure it must be something special, or you must be an expert if the media are featuring you. We all do it.
So, how do you get the media to run a story for you for free? You have to pretend you are the journalist and you are writing the article for their readers. You need to talk about the way it will improve their lives, or scale up their business, or give them tips and advice they may not know about your particular product or service.
Journalists need stories. If you think about it, how else are they going to fill a website with new stories every hour or so, or a full day’s worth of radio, or a weekly or monthly magazine? They rely on people pitching them story ideas, or gorgeous new products, and they always want to hear about new businesses. Don’t feel nervous or unsure about approaching them. Nine times out of ten, if you have a good story, they will be delighted to hear from you. With some of them, even if they don’t think the angle is quite right, they might talk to you a bit more about it, or suggest a different approach.
Getting PR is not about blowing your (or your business’s) own trumpet and telling everyone how great you are. If you offer a media release that is just about your business, that talks about the various bells and whistles you can offer, that talks of some great success you have had, you will lose the interest of the journalist and the reader. It’s boring and it’s blatantly commercial.
Imagine instead, that you talk about them, the audience. About how you solve a common problem, or about the problems that people have doing something and how you can give them some tips for how to solve them. You could write something like ‘Five things you should be aware of when choosing an accountant’, or ‘Five questions you should ask every gardener/nanny/book keeper/builder before employing them’, or perhaps ‘Eight plumbing tricks you can do at home’. Leverage your expertise, be generous with your information and people will see you as an expert.
Of course, if it is a genuinely newsworthy story and you can imagine seeing it on the news, or reading about it in the paper then go straight to the outlet that you think might feature it and pitch it. Creating tips and advice is one of the tricks you can use when you are trying to create an angle, because you have nothing obvious to promote. They will always credit you and put a link to your website at the bottom of your tips article (if you include it in your media release), so you can start to build up a bit of a profile.
As a franchise owner, you will often be involved at a hyper-local level. Perhaps it is with community events or you are sponsoring a sports team. You can think outside of the square a little if that is your situation. For instance, you can talk with your customers; run surveys about locally important issues and offer the results to the local paper along with some commentary from you, or you could keep your ear out for interesting stories that relate to an interesting customer and your business and pitch those to the paper. You can also offer some products or services as a prize. A guitar teacher could offer some free lessons as a prize, a restaurant could offer a meal, or a florist could offer a month of flowers. Whatever your ‘prize’, try to make sure it relates to something that you are trying to promote, but don’t make it too commercial. You have to genuinely want to help people or offer information.
There is also no real reason to stay local. If you are part of a franchise, think about how you can use PR to benefit the whole business, and all the owners. If the individual franchise owners learn how to do their own PR, and all the franchise owners are getting some coverage, even just one article, every month, that group effort may result in ten, twenty, even 50 or more news stories every month about the business. That’s a heck of a lot more powerful than simply advertising, and a lot more affordable too!
PR is easily the most effective, and affordable way to promote your business. It also has loads of other benefits like SEO and social media content which are too numerous to mention in this article. Ask your web master, he will tell you all! It’s time to get your PR happening.
For more information, or to try running your own PR campaign, go to www.handleyourownpr.com.au. It is only $397 for a full year.