Startups should be doing their own PR – here are six tips...

Startups should be doing their own PR – here are six tips on how to do it successfully

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Getting media coverage isn’t just about stroking your ego; it’s about getting people to trust your business. We all know that people Google a brand before they actually buy and it’s articles and reviews that they’re looking for. So naturally if they find positive stories written by journalists and the stories are ranking high in Google, you’re on to a winner.

So the question is, should you try doing your own PR? Well nobody knows the ins and outs of your business like you do. It might sound daunting but if you’ve got a good story and a product that you believe in and are passionate about, the media would much rather hear from you directly. The key is to equip yourself with the right tools and skills to make sure you get it right the first time, and every time.

And it’s easy with a little know-how. Small businesses can do their own PR properly and start to build their own relationships directly with the media. Here’s my step-by-step guide to effectively running your own PR campaign:

1. The key to a successful PR campaign is to establish, from the get-go, why you want PR in the first place.

Whether you are looking to expand your customer base or to bump up your credibility as a business owner, you must build the foundations of your PR campaign on figuring out what it is you are trying to achieve.

2. Figure out who you want to know about your business.

Who is your customer? Is it very specific or it is broad? Once you’ve worked that out, you can decide which media to approach. You need to think about what your customers and potential customers are reading, watching and listening to.

3. Work out what your story is and how to build a strong one that journalists will want to write about.

This is usually where most businesses come unstuck. Remember, it’s not enough to just write a profile about your business. You need an angle that is bigger than just what your company does or makes. What problem do you solve for people? You need to talk about the problem as much as your product.

4. So once you know what your story is, you move on to the how. How will you get your story across to the media?

Typically you will draft a media release with all the information the journalist needs to write a story. A media release has a catchy headline and quotes from you to back up your story, plus your contact details in case they have any queries. However, a media release is not essential. A pitch email is where the real magic happens. It’s this email that either reels them in or not. You need a subject line that stands out from all the others in their inbox and the email body copy should contain enough information for them to work out if there’s a story in it.

5. Research the publications you’ll be contacting to gauge the nature of the content they usually roll out.

Journalists are far more likely to run your story if you’ve thought carefully about what story works for them specifically. Nothing irritates them more than getting a pitch that is completely irrelevant to them. It’s therefore imperative you don’t just blast the same email out to your list of contacts. You’ll need to consider a potential news angle for each one. Think about what you are pitching, whom does it affect and consider timeliness – why now

6. Build relationships with the media.

Being personable and developing a good rapport with a journalist will go a long way to making you memorable and you’ll find it easier to pitch to them in the future. Be available to chat, return calls and answer emails promptly. It will serve you well to put that little bit of extra effort into communicating effectively. And you never know, if you build a good relationship, they might even reach out to you for your expert opinion when they next write a story on your category.

Jocelyne Simpson is co-founder of I Do My Own PR, an online tool that enables startups to do their own PR. She is also co-founder of Good Citizens PR.

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