Getting your story in the press is a great way to get your message out there, raise awareness of your brand and even generate sales. But there’s lots of competition for those column inches, in print or online. How do you get your story to stand out and get the coverage you’re aiming for? Here are my tips for doing your own PR.
1. Be Social
PR stands for Press or Public Relations - the emphasis is on relations. Go out and build relationships either through social networks, attending events or picking up the phone and getting out meeting people.
Use social media like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to build your fans and advocates and they will do your job for you telling their friends and spreading the word.
Connect with relevant journalists on social media or seek them out at events you attend (press badges are often easy to spot). Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and hand over a business card or better still a sample. You’ve then got a good excuse to follow up with them.
2. Be an Expert
Whether you are a cheesemaker or an insurance broker you have expertise in what you. If you demonstrate this expertise through a blog or social media journalists will identify you as someone to speak to in their research. For example if you are an vegetable grower and blog about the impact of a wet spring on the asparagus harvest and share that opinion on social media or even send it direct to the press, journalists may call for a further comment to quote in their piece.
3. Be an authority
Make sure you know your facts, have some figures to hand, journalists love data, such as the size of the UK asparagus market or your own increased volume of asparagus sales over the last five years. Have an opinion and don’t be afraid to share it.
4. Be targeted
Do your research. Buy the newspapers or magazines and spend time looking at online publications. Think about their approach and themes. What do they cover and what don’t they cover? How can you make your story relevant to them? It’s often worth having several angles of the same story up your sleeve, for example one for the local media that focusses on the local connections, one for the national food press and one for the trade press.
Create a list of the relevant journalists by reading the magazines or papers. Magazines usually have a boiler plate at the front with names of key staff and some contact details. Papers can be a bit harder to get contact details for but google is a powerful tool and you’ll be surprised how often you can track down someone’s email address! You can always pick up the phone and ask who is the relevant person.
Build a database - keep a record of the names and contact details of your target list of journalists. Keep a record of what you have sent them and when and a note of how they responded. The more information you can add the better and don’t forget to keep it up to date.
A scattergun approach doesn't work. Think carefully before sending your news - is it relevant to that person or publication. Make the covering email personal and highlight why you think it is relevant to them.
4. Be concise
Whether you’re telling your business story face-to-face or writing a press release you have a just a minute to get your audience's attention.
I still regularly think about an acronym I learned 20 years ago: AIDA which stands of Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. You need to get your readers attention, engage their interest and encourage them to take action whether that's buying your product or writing about you.
Journalists receive dozens of emails a day and many will go unread so make sure you get a compelling heading in the email subject line to get their attention and make sure they’ve not lost interest by the time they get to the key part of your message. Think about the key points you want to get across (sometimes called the top line), why should they be interested and don’t forget the what, where, why and when.
A press release shouldn’t be more than a few paragraphs long and fit on one side of A4 (and this doesn’t mean size 8 font!). Make it easy to read with good line spacing. You can add a few notes on a second page and don’t forget to include your contact details.
5. Be newsworthy
A press release is not a sales pitch. Don’t over-hype the story or exaggerate - be genuine and honest. Write objectively as if you were writing something you’d read in a paper or magazine.
Think about what makes it a story that they’ll cover (this will depend on the type of publication). Do you have data or research that shows a new trend or a nutrition benefit to your product? Do you have tips to share or inspiring recipes.
6. Be visual
Include one or two photos as thumbnails in the copy. Have good quality high resolution images to hand. Dropbox is a great way to store and share high resolution files. Include links to to Dropbox or offer to share them on request.
7. Be smart
Make it easy for the journalist. Put the story in the email and don’t assume that they will open an attachment. If you send an attachment send it as a pdf document that can be opened on any platform.
8. BE APPROACHABLE
Remember to include your contact details and offer to answer any questions or send samples.
Invite them to visit you or meet for a coffee. Journalists are real people and this is all about building relationships.
9. BE PERSISTENT
Silence doesn’t mean rejection - journalists are busy and often inundated. If you don’t receive a response it’s fine to follow up after a few days or a week but avoid becoming a pest by chasing them too many times, that won’t yield results.
If they are not interested in your story ask them if it’s ok to send them other news in the future and ask them what sort of things would be relevant to them.
If you would like more advice or help about PR do get in touch, I'd be happy to help!