5 Ways to Get Your Small Business in the News Today
After personally consulting hundreds of business owners, training thousands more through my ebook, The Buzz: A Media Darling’s Guide to Press Coverage, and listening to many more during one-on-one Mini PR and Mini PR Plus consultations, I see the same concerns about public relations and marketing rearing their ugly heads again and again. “I don’t have the money to hire a publicist or PR agency.”
“I don’t have the time to market or publicize my business.”
“I’m overwhelmed and don’t know what I’m doing.”
Guess what? These concerns are valid. As a small business, solopreneur, or startup you’ve already put your time and money—possibly your life savings—into your hopes and dreams.
It’s also perfectly normal to have no idea how to market or publicize your dreams and to be overwhelmed by fear failure. Which is why I’m on a mission to help small businesses and solopreneurs create visibility through strategic public relations.
The magical world of public relations can be some what of a mystery to many of us. Getting started can be as challenging as navigating your way in a new city without cell reception. The good news is, with time, research, and the five tips below, your brand, product, or business can be in the news today!
1. Sign up for HARO (Help a Reporter Out): This should be the first stop for anyone looking to get press. It also is the easiest. HARO provides you with real-time media opportunities up to three times daily, straight from journalists on a deadline who need a source. You can filter opportunities by industry and start submitting your info immediately wherever it is relevant.
For example, a reporter from Health is looking for a source to share their personal stories about what it is really like to live with multiple sclerosis. Your personal struggle, and how it impacts your life as an entrepreneur, might be just what they need to finish their article.
While an excellent resource, there is a right and wrong way to HARO. I recommend reading this HARO tip sheet from Cision before hitting send on any opportunity.
2. Study editorial calendars in your industry: All magazines and online publications rely on advertising revenue. As such, they post a publicly-accessible editorial calendar at the beginning of each year for prospective advertisers to plan their budgets around what topics they plan to cover.
You can easily find these calendars on the advertising or media kit section of their websites. Check out the editorial calendars for Meredith Direct Media (i.e., SHAPE, Fit Pregnancy, EatingWell, etc.), for example.
Using these editorial calendars, you can plan your own strategy and pitch with relevance when you know the magazine is looking for the news you have to give them. Quick tip, print outlets operate two to three months in advance of their issue date. Keep that in mind as you pitch to give reporters enough time to craft their story and to have any chance in swaying it with your angle.
3. Be a thought leader who engages reporters: I know it’s hard to believe, but reporters are people, too. Just as you would strike up a conversation with any other human being, there’s no better way to catch a reporter’s attention than to engage them on a story they’ve just written. Obviously, their latest work is something they have a professional, and sometimes personal, interest in.
While you may be tempted to respond directly to the comments section of the article, the best way to contact a reporter is to send him or her an email. This way, you can demonstrate thoughtful analysis and commentary on their piece. Plus, your direct contact information is now at said reporter’s fingertips.
Is your small business related to a story that just made the latest issue of Inc.? Email the writer and show them why you’re a valuable source for future and related industry news. Even better, ask them if based on their article, they’ve considered an alternative conclusion to the topic at hand and why they should.
4. Start a targeted media list: It’s hard to reach out to the media when you don’t know who you should be reaching out to. Make this easier on yourself by creating a target media list.
This media list should be a running list of writers and reporters, their contact info, and a link to their latest article related to your business and industry. Both nationally and by trade.
Prior to getting started, ask yourself these four questions:
- Who is your target customer?
- What is your target customer reading?
- Who are the reporters at these outlets?
- Have they written about your product offering or industry previously?
Let’s use Juice So Good as an example. They recently launched Coffee So Good, a line of delicious non-dairy, single serving ready-to-drink, cold-press coffee, and are looking to target health-minded coffee lovers. What are coffee lovers reading? What are the health-minded watching? Besides health and fitness blogs and publications, Juice So Good’s target audience is reading lifestyle magazines such as Cosmopolitan and watching lifestyle-shaping shows like Ellen, both of which have a national audience. At the local level, Juice So Good will need to take a closer look at city-specific media outlets, such as Minnesota Monthly, The Star Tribune, and WCCO-TV in Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Most importantly for Juice So Good (and you), each audience must have their own master list. In this case, Juice So Good will need separate directories for coffee lovers and health-minded folks.
Here’s a free media list template to help get you started!
5. Create a PR vision board: As a child I learned if you want something bad enough, you put it out into the universe and then you go after it. As a professional, I put my goals down on paper and then hold myself (and others) accountable until said goal is achieved.
The same principle applies to getting your small business or product in the news, which is where a PR vision board comes into play. It also is why I ask every client early on what PR success looks like to them, down to specific news outlets.
Your PR vision board should list the media outlets you want to be written about in and how you’re going to make that happen. By creating this list, you’re creating a relevant strategy to connect consistently with the reporters you care about.
First, gather your resources. Use the editorial calendars available to you and your target media list mentioned above to craft the media outlets and reporters you are going to pitch to, when you are going to reach out to them, and how you plan on reaching out to them. Next, give yourself a timeline to reach out, like one month intervals over the next eight months. This means each month, you’re going to find a relevant reason to pitch your business to each and every reporter and media outlet on your list.
Sound overwhelming? I promise it’s not.
This outreach can include comments on their most recent article or story, emailing (not spamming) reporters, pitching news relevant to editorial calendars and national timelines (i.e. Bike to Work month) as well as company milestones.
In the case of Juice So Good, KARE 11’s Inventure series was the perfect media outlet and aligned well with both the Coffee So Good launch, Juice So Good’s history, and the target audience the small business desired to reach.
Are you ready to take your small business or startup to the next level with the tips above? Get started today!
Want free templates and helpful tips like the ones above plus more? Check out The Buzz: A Media Darling’s Guide to Press Coverage, get on the wait list for Hearsay’s PR mastermind group (launching in February), or email me directly to schedule a Mini PR or Mini PR Plus session today!