In addition to great marketing, every small business owner deserves great public relations (PR) beyond press release distribution. You can have both. First, think like a journalist. Starting there puts you miles ahead of most other small businesses. Next, focus on building relationships, identifying newsworthy stories, and taking advantage of free online resources. Doing these things can help you get press for your small business.
Build Good Relationships with the Media
This may surprise you, but journalists are people too! Their goal is to provide meaningful content for their audience within strict deadlines. Your goal is to get your story told. In the same ways you build relationships with your coworkers and clients, build relationships with journalists. Follow them on social media and engage with their content. This will help you decide which journalists to approach for PR surrounding your business.
When you reach out to a journalist, provide ‘ready to publish’ content. Prepare a summary of your story and include a quote that is relevant to your pitch, both of which can be used as-is. Journalists with tight deadlines don’t have time to go back and forth with you. If you provide relevant, ready-to-publish content, in either written or video form, you make their job easier, and so they are more likely to tell your stories and tell them well. Become a good resource for them, and they will, in turn, be a good resource for you.
Pitch Stories That Are Newsworthy
Every good story isn’t newsworthy. A journalist’s role is to distribute content that appeals to their audience. Your good story may lack broad appeal.
Objectively determine if your story is newsworthy. First, is it relevant? The world is battling a global health pandemic and systemic social injustice. Is your story related to either of those issues? If not, you will have a tough time getting a journalist to pay attention. Second, what is the impact of your news? Does it help to solve a problem? Can it answer a question that people seem to be asking? Are you providing a service that your community may need? If your story positively impacts others, it may be newsworthy.
The key to creating newsworthy stories is to make the story less about your needs and more about the needs of the person to whom you are pitching. It seems counterintuitive, but it works. If you pitch a journalist on something that helps them look good to their newsroom and provides valuable, relevant information to their audience, it is highly likely that they will pick up the story.
Take Advantage of Free PR resources
Google Alerts is a great tool to monitor current trends. This free tool allows you to stay on top of trends that are relevant to your business and be alerted if you are mentioned online. At a minimum, create an alert for your business name. Each day, you will receive an email with any online mentions. You can also set alerts for your competition, upcoming events, or any other keywords that you want to track.
Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is a platform for journalists to make last-minute requests for their stories. You can sign up for a free HARO account and get 10-20 content requests sent to your inbox every day. While all of the requests may not apply to your business, some may. If you are selected for a story, you may see a news piece about your business within the week, and likely a backlink to your website as well. This free and easy tool should be part of every small business’s PR toolbox.
If you build a relationship with the media, create newsworthy stories, and take advantage of free online tools, you will strategically improve the exposure of your business. Before spending money on a public relations firm, look online for free PR webinars or free PR training to get press for your small business.
In partnership with Stephanie Alston of Black Girl Group, Creative Allies hosted a six-part digital marketing webinar series. You can view these webinars, including one focused on PR, to gain free, actionable tips on growing your business.