One of the biggest public relations misconceptions is that you need to pay the extortionate costs of a public relations agency to gain media coverage for your business.
What if I told you that you could save your precious Pounds, Dollars, Yen, Euros (whatever your currency) by learning how to do PR yourself?
Yes, it’s totally possible. And, contrary to common belief, it isn’t magic!
You don’t need to hire a costly PR agency to secure media coverage for your business. You can totally do it yourself!
Of course, there are specific skills and knowledge you’ll need, as with any marketing task. But with the right ones, you can reach your ideal audience by getting into the media outlets they consume.
Doing your own PR is cheaper than advertising. The only cost to you is the time you invest in it. Because, yes, it does take time to build up the skills, craft your brand story, and actually pitch your story to the press. But it’s certainly worth it.
In order to make PR possible without a big fancy agency, there is a whole range of public relations resources and tools you can use. You just have to look around for them.
Caption: Women of African Caribbean heritage wearing a black suit sits at a desk, laptop open, cup to her right. She talks on her phone while taking notes.
To help get you started, here are five tools you need to DIY your business’s PR.
How do I find target media outlets?
Solution: Ask colleagues, associates, customers, and friends what they read, watch and listen to. Especially focus on the people who share the values of your business.
You need to start with knowing the type of audience or customer you want to attract. Then you can begin to build a media list.
A media list is made up of the different places where your target audience consumes their favourite media - magazines, e-zines, newspapers, news websites, podcasts, blogs, radio stations, TV and news channels. You can find something in each of these for almost any niche, but you have to consider the demographics, such as gender, age, personal or professional interests, and values of the people you want to reach through the press.
You really do need to dive deep into this. It’s time consuming but also great fun as you’ll probably come across some fascinating content along the way. Plus, the research often sparks new ideas for story angles.
How do I find a cracking story idea?
Solution: Research magazines, podcasts, blogs, news websites, etc, and note the kind of stories already being covered. Then look for similar stories from your own business or life.
Journalists get hundreds of press releases and emails every day and by giving them a story that’ll grab their attention instantly! That takes research, creativity and planning!⠀
Take a selection of fabulous images which illustrate your story well - they often help encourage coverage in the press. But make sure they are a minimum of 1mb otherwise they might be too small for a good quality website or print publication to use. If in doubt, go back to the above media and take note of the kind of photography they use.
The press want stories that are unexpected, surprising, shocking, quirky, etc. To illustrate this point: if you read the headline, ‘Dog Bites Man’, you’d probably ignore it. But what if you read, ‘Man Bites Dog’? You’re likely to react differently, right?⠀
You get my drift.
How do I find an awesome story angle?
Solution: Get creative!
This is tricky, but important challenge to crack! An angle is the perspective from which a story is told. A great angle can make the difference between coverage and your email being dropped into the Trash folder! It’s a tactic which makes a story relevant to the media - it makes it easier for a journalist to pitch the story to their editor too.
An awesome angle can be the most compelling aspect of your story.
However, the angle needs to be relevant to a media outlet. If you’re sending a press release to your local newspaper the angle needs to appeal to the readers, e.g. ‘Cambridge-based enterprise wins major contract to supply wellness industry with customer engagement app’. If you’re taking the same story to a consumer wellbeing magazine to reach out to spa users, the angle needs to be tweaked, e.g. ‘Wellness app to be rolled out to spa customers around the UK.
You see the difference?
Caption: Woman typing on a laptop sitting on the floor. She is surrounded by magazines and a cup of tea.
When do I issue a press release?
Solution: Find a good Awareness Day calendar and identify a relevant date to issue your story.
Being able to adapt to the season, national campaign days and current trends makes your story more appealing to the press. It fits into what they’re looking for at a particular time and is, therefore, more likely to be picked up.
You’ll want to keep media outlets’ lead times in mind. Each outlet needs a certain amount of time before a particular holiday, event, or season before they cover a story. These are lead times and they differ depending on the type of media (a podcast, daily radio show, or monthly magazine, for example). I have a value-packed Instagram post breaking down three different lead times for you to check out.
If you’ve never written a press release before, here’s a guide – with some helpful resources to make life easier.
How do I find journalists’ details?
Solution: Head on over to Twitter and search for #journorequests, then follow the most relevant journalists covering stories in your industry.
Journalists want to share your story – they’re looking for people’s input every day on Twitter. Take a quick scroll through the latest tweets with the above hashtag and see if any of the journalists’ requests align with your business, values, products, or client/ customer base.
If you find one, you don’t want to send your elevator pitch right then and there. Send the journalist your pitch email using the email address they provide either in the tweet, in the thread or in their profile. If you can’t see it anywhere, just ask them.
Caption: Mockup tweet by Earth_Journalist with the image of the earth. The tweet says: Looking for Social Enterprises that care about me and my inhabitants! #JournoRequest
Then, you need to be short, concise and quick with your reply tweet! Something such as, “I can help. Earthstreamer is the Netflix for nature docs, emailed you just now”. The journalist may include their email address on their tweet. If not, check their Twitter profile.
You want to make your Twitter comment and email pitch totally relevant to their request. With any luck, you’ve got yourself a media story!
Learning to do your own PR might be a challenge, but it’s an exciting one. Because just one piece of coverage placed in the right media outlet, can up your sales and follower count overnight!
Are you ready to begin your DIY PR journey but would like some support along the way?