Have you ever noticed that very few products and services offerings are genuinely distinct?
Trying to be different is hard but the one thing that is truly one-of-a-kind is YOU.
If you want to put your company on the map then typically the best person to promote your business is yourself.
Consider how successfully Sir Richard Branson has developed the Virgin brand over the years by being ‘the face’ of the Virgin brand.
You may not have the PR budget of a billion dollar company but if you are savvy about your approach and follow the three practical steps summarised below then you could soon be creating waves of excitement about your business.
1. Develop a press listing
The best place to start here is to examine the magazines you would like to appear in. Remember these should be publications that your ideal client reads rather than publications specific to your industry.
I recommend a trip to your local business library to review not just the core publications you would like to appear in but also publications outside of your market.
From there you can begin to construct a list of helpful contacts.
The publications themselves will usually consist of the key phone numbers of the publication, the editor’s name and email address and in most cases the journalists’ names too.
My suggestion when starting out is to create a listing of around ONE HUNDRED contacts. There’s no harm in having more than one reporter from the same publication on your list. It’s all about creating relationships and you will find that you gel with some people better than others.
2. Preparing for the press
A press pack contains information which provides journalists with a brief introduction to you as an individual, your company, the topics you are available to talk about and how to contact you. Your press pack must include:
This is a summary of your important highlights and should be around 300-400 words in length. It resembles the information given about a writer on the cover of a book rather than a full-blown CV.
Having professional photos of yourself is a must have and the financial investment is well worth it. Have both colour and black and white available as it simply makes it less complicated for the journalist and publication.
Your business in 30 seconds
A boiler plate is a high level paragraph detailing key points about your company and the services/products you supply. It should be around 200 words in length.
Your proof points
Include a list of anything you have published, whether it’s books, articles or academic documents. Include the web links to make it easier for journalists or editors of publications to review.
Don’t forget to also include links to any video clips or podcasts you have created but don’t worry if you haven’t released anything yet, this is merely a ‘nice to have’.
Your company logo
Include your logo on all documents, including you contact details and your website address, the only exemption is your pictures. Remember you are promoting your businesses.
All this needs to be in electronic format and if you go to meet a journalist make certain you take your press pack in hard copy format.
Once you have done all of the above the next step is to approach the press. This can be done in a variety of ways and there is no one right way, you should choose the method that works best for you at a given time.
Sending out a press release can be a great way to get the ball rolling in terms of raising awareness about your business. However, a release just simply promoting your latest service or product is a ‘no-go’ with journalists – they will always want a story or a different angle on an issue.
There are a few schools of thought as to the frequency you should send out press releases. Some specialists recommend every couple of weeks, others recommend leaving a longer period of around 6-8 weeks between releases.
One point to keep in mind is that magazines cannot be seen to be favouring one service or product supplier over another. If you are sending out press releases every couple of weeks it is unlikely that the exact same publication will give you continuous coverage.
A by-lined write-up is where you create the content and it appears in the publication with your name beneath or above it.
Newspapers and consumer magazines typically don’t use by-lined articles because they only publish content they’ve had commissioned by reporters. However, trade and specialist magazines are usually open to the opportunity of publishing a by-lined article. By-lined articles are an incredibly valuable promotional tool.
If you are interested in writing a by-lined article you have to be prepared to:
- Deliver to a deadline and if you miss it you will have harmed the relationship with the magazine and they will most likely not offer you the opportunity again.
- Write to a certain number of words.
- Have your article rewritten in parts by the editor without your approval.
- Have your article dropped or rescheduled at the last-minute if something a lot better comes along for the publication.
To persuade an editor to print your article you first need to send the publication a synopsis of your article. Do not write-up the article in advance because it’s not unheard of for a publication to provide direction to the author as to what they would like to see included.
Having a press meeting with a journalist is by far the most time efficient approach for any entrepreneur. Also, a meeting enables journalists to put a face or at least a voice to your name and that has a positive effect in creating a more solid and potentially lasting relationship.
Journalists will interview you if you have something unique to say, for example, a different angle on an issue that has been floating around your industry, or if you have undertaken some form of research and have some interesting facts to present. You still have to call and sell your story to them so make sure you have a set of compelling bullet points to hand so that you can persuade them to invest their time in talking to and writing about you.
When used well and executed efficiently, PR is a fantastic tool for spreading the word about you and your business. However, achieving the results you want in terms of brand awareness and ultimately revenue generation takes time and a consistent effort. It is important to remember though, that journalists and publications of all sorts have deadlines to meet and need to find stories of interest from somewhere. So if you can approach the right people with insightful views on subjects that matter, then your profile and that of your business can be increased dramatically.
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