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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Fortney

Top DIY PR Tips for Every Small Business, Startup

Public relations has evolved from being just a sales strategy to an art form as it should be. PR is a journalistic endeavor where we professionals help clients develop a compelling newsworthy story that will interest media and hence readers.

Public relations offers something nothing else in the marketing mix does - credibility. And that credibility matters. The perception of credibility provided through PR - media stories, mentions, inclusions, articles, etc. - can be further encourage people to take action (i.e. buy now or call).

It can be powerful.

Yet, most small businesses - typically upstarts - may not have the means to hire a PR firm or PR specialist, but that doesn’t mean their public engagement should be lackluster.

How to DIY PR

Entrepreneurs can learn how to DIY PR to jump start their credibility for more sales, calls, interest by investors and other stakeholders. There are a few steps that you must take to set your PR program up for success.

Great Businesses Know How to Tell Their Story

Not sell their story, but tell it. They know how to make the story of their company compelling – define the whys and hows that brought them to start the business, create and launch the product or service. Moreover, in today’s new media world, journalists do not often have time to see the story among the company/product facts. You have to give them the story, and then they can decide where they might want to go with it. Lots of companies put out press releases that read like fact sheets highlighting benefits, and, while benefits are important, they don’t show a journalist, whose readers are consumers, what your company, product, or service means to customers. Or answer questions like how and why will it change their world? Or what personal connection do you have that lends even more credibility and human interest to your story?

Top DIY PR Tips for Every Small Business, Startup

  1. Define your story - it should be compelling and newsworthy. Write out a short pitch that defines your "why" and a compelling subject line to create curiosity to open the email and learn more.

  2. Define your audiences - who are they and where are they? This will help direct where you should focus your story.

  3. Set up an online newsroom - a newsroom offers journalists everything they need to tell your story and it's also searchable. Done well, when a journalist searches online for an expert source relevant to your business, yours will appear. Effective newsrooms are highly overlooked by startups and small businesses but can yield results. Include these documents - bio, photos, list of topics you can speak on, company backgrounder, company/product/service fact sheet, contact information, any video interviews, highlight a list of media inclusions.

  4. Develop a Media Wish List - start with 10-20 to keep it manageable. Focus on hometown media, which have a vested interest, and niche media to directly target your audience.

  5. Make time - set a side one day per week to pitch media and then follow up with them once a week for three weeks.

  6. Be patient and courteous - just because you've contact a journalist doesn't mean they will immediately respond. It can take many touches. Most journalists receive hundreds of email pitches per day. It can be hard to keep up and sometimes they miss emails. After three, wait a few weeks and then follow up again. Pay attention to holidays and news of the day that might take away their focus.

  7. Offer new every follow up. Give them additional reasons why they should take interest.

  8. Make yourself available - when you get a positive response and a request for interview or product, make it a priority. If you need help with media training, download our booklet below that will help prepare you for any interview.

Today, PR should be part of your search strategy to drive website traffic through a variety of content that is discovered and found through several channels. After all, not everyone is going to search and find you or your business in the same way.

CascadePR_MediaTrainingBooklet 2024
Download PDF • 385KB

For more assistance in how to define your story and execute a DIY PR campaign, there's a book for that.

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