If you are in business for yourself, you must do every task necessary for your business. That includes everything from photographing your clients to taking out the trash. You don’t get to pick and choose what you want to do; instead everything is equally important when it comes to building a success business.
Which means every business owner must be a self promoter too – unless you have the ability to pay someone else to do it. If that’s not you, spreading the word is your task. Not to be confused with marketing, publicity gets others talking about you. And while many people think publicity comes with age – only the more established, more profitable companies need to worry about publicity – in fact its great to build your PR plan as early as possible.
Here are some ideas to help you develop a strong publicity program.
1. Choose what media outlets you would like to be featured in
What do you want out of your publicity? Are you trying to prove your expertise? Or are you trying to attract new clients? People look to articles in magazines as more authoritative than those that place ads. If you’re in an article, you must have something to say. Find a few sources where you would like to be featured and start gathering contact information. In order to pitch an article, you’ll need either a writer/reporter or the editor, depending on the size of the publication. Make sure you get contact information: names, email, addresses, web addresses. In many cases if you head online, you’ll find specific information for submitting ideas. I keep an excel file filled with this information, so its easy to create things and get them into the appropriate hands immediately.
2. Use resources like HARO
Want a great way to get to reporters looking for you? Try out a service like HARO – Help A Reporter Out. Sign up for their free service and you’ll be put on the mailing list in which you’ll receive emails three times a day listing opportunities. Follow up on the ones that you connect with and will bring you in potential exposure to your client base. While you can start with their free service – I’ve been using it for years – they also have pay models in which you can build profiles, filter your alert and even get a head start on responding.
3. Develop a sound pitch
Your pitch shouldn’t read like a sales letter. A reporter would never write a story on your products or services. Instead, they are looking for human interest stories; things that will make their readers or viewers interested in what they have to say. They would never write a story on your portrait sessions, unless you added a twist. What if you specialized in creating portraits in unique locations with unique clientele – maybe of the local teams’ players? People love seeing the star quarterback in any situation; a business that focused in on giving the top players in the industry special memories would be great front page business news. The key is thinking from the reporters standpoint. What do they want to showcase to their readers?
Don’t send any pitch to “whom it may concern”. Instead choose specific people and learn what they report on regularly. Then customize your pitch to fit in with what they like to write/talk about. You’ll be more likely to attract attention if they have to do little thinking/planning for the article itself.
5. Send information in the desired format
One of the quickest ways to be deleted from the opportunity is to not follow directions. If they only like emailed inquiries, email your release. If they like snail mail, mail it in. If they use an online form, submit it in the desired format. Don’t be eliminated for not following directions. And never think you’ll get extra exposure if you try something new – its just a reason to delete what you’ve sent in.
6. Be creative
Can you imagine reading release after release, all day long? Boring. Reporters like the WOW factor just like anyone else. They like to be surprised. They like to find things that are different and new. Why not create a three minute YouTube video and include the link in your release? While its no guarantee, it may work, depending on what you are pitching.
7. Do not call
Many people have the automatic assumption that when you mail one thing in to a reporter, you’ll get an instant response. Remember these people are bombarded with many things during their day. They may be pitched from dozens of angles, all while trying to follow up on a breaking story. If something doesn’t capture their eye today, try it again. But don’t call. They will find you when its of interest.
8. Using social – the new way of grabbing attention
While reporters read through the press release files every day, they also spend a great deal of time online. They almost always have social accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. And they read and follow things just like you and I do. The key is getting on their radar. If you follow them, they may follow you. If you provide lots of useful content, they may take an interest. While they might not answer you right away, it’s a matter of time. When you do something interesting and they take notice, you may have a friend – and an opportunity – for life.