Small businesses don’t have the luxury to spend millions of dollars on public relations (PR), yet it is crucial for the success of every business. Even with a budget, many times, these startups aren’t sure where to begin, whom to approach or how to go about generating PR for their business. If you wish to take your business to the next level and grow your startup, then it’s essential to partner with the right folks and execute the right strategy. Here are a few ways for small business owners who are searching for a way to get PR for their product/service and increase their brand exposure.
1. Avoid Corporate PR
When you get funded or your business gains traction, it can be tempting to go for large corporate PR firms since they’re established and credible. However, it’s better to avoid these firms as they often ask you to work on a retainer, meaning you’ll have to pay them in advance to secure their services in future. They already have many marquee clients who drive majority of their revenue. So, small businesses might not really be their priority. Look for a freelancer or a startup PR firm who is working really hard to ‘make it’ in business. You can contact them through Google search, via LinkedIn, or on freelancing sites like Upwork and Fiverr
2. Do a thorough research
Create a simple spreadsheet of all the media contacts and PR firms that you already know or who cover similar products & services. Whenever you have a news or company announcement, reach out to these media members. If you’re hosting a public event, contact the local TV assignment desks. You’ll find their phone numbers on their websites.
3. Focus on being relevant
While communicating with news reports and media members, only send information that’s actually relevant to them and newsworthy, meaning announcements, new offerings, a change in business, rebranding, and events. Ensure that it affects more than a niche group of people.
You can also angle your announcement such that it’s related to trending news. For example, in the wake of #MeToo movement, what your business has done to ensure a safe working environment for women.
However, don’t spam reporters with too many stories that aren’t newsworthy, else you’ll be seen as an unreliable source and be ignored.
4. Leverage cheap/free resources
There are numerous free or low cost tools that you can use to spread the word about your business. For example, HARO (Help A Reporter Out) is a service that sends out daily newsletters which contain requests from journalists who are looking for credible sources for their stories. It’s a great opportunity to supply them with useful stats and data that your business has researched through surveys, questionnaires or interviews. You can even provide them with apt quotes, and provide them your background to establish your credentials. This will not only increase the visibility of your business but also position you as a thought-leader.
5. Start within your community
If you’re a new business, them spend some time interacting with local news media and bloggers. In fact, bloggers are a lot more influential than many large businesses realize. Bloggers have a loyal audience who read their work on a daily basis. More importantly, they’ve built a trustworthy relationship with their readers and can be instrumental in persuading them to choose your products and services.
Write contributed articles
Contributed articles are a great way for you to leverage established media outlets that are also read by your target audience. Popular media sites like Forbes, Business Insider, Fast Company have a huge readership and are always looking for fresh content. They can be opinion pieces by industry experts (such as yourself) or research-based articles that reveal new insights for their readers.
In addition to publishing your articles, some outlets might even include it in their print magazines and newspapers, giving you even more exposure. The key is to find the ones that are read by your audience as well as allow you to prove your expertise.
Avoid writing content that’s specific to your company or product, and instead, focus on a broader topic that impacts a large number of readers. Most of the popular media outlets already have an established guest authorship program, whose instructions you can follow to pitch your topics. If not, feel free to drop them an email pitching a couple of topics, with short outlines.
PR is one of the most effective ways to boost the visibility of your company and products, and deliver your marketing message in a compelling manner. However, small businesses are often hesitant to pursue a PR strategy, assuming it to be the domain of large enterprises. With a little effort, you too can get the press your business deserves, without spending tons of money. If you decide to execute a PR strategy without an agency, it’s advisable to bring an in-house PR specialist on board. If you don’t have the budget for it, reach out to your mentors and advisors to help you navigate the PR process to ensure early success.
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