Why You Can DIY PR for Your Business
(As originally written for and published on NBCChicago.com's Inc. Well)
As an entrepreneur, the most precious commodity you have is time. There never seems to be enough of it for you to fill every role you play every day. It's enough just to be CEO, accounts receivable/payable, secretary and janitor, but throw in public relations efforts and it feels as if one ball must fall in order to keep a new one in the air.
Truth is that in the beginning stages you most likely don't have the funding to pay for professional PR help.
However, you desperately need to get the word out, generate interest and sales in order to create a PR budget. It's the chicken and the egg. So what do you do?
I am here to tell you that DIY PR is totally possible with some time management tips. And, when you're ready to work with a pro, you will be more knowledgeable about PR, your story/message and your audience.
Keep it highly targeted - I call it the Bowl of Spaghetti Theory - when you throw a bowl of spaghetti up on the wall and watch to see what sticks. Some use this Theory in PR by blast emailing press releases to media/bloggers and it never works. The best approach is a highly targeted one where you go directly where your audience is. Know your audience and you will know where to target your press release.
Research the media you want to be in - Do they even cover your industry or business? You might want the "Oprah Effect" by being highlighted in "O" magazine, but editors are mostly interested only in lifestyle consumer products and services, not your computer software program. It's important to find the right media outlet that will not only reach your target audience, but will also be interested in what you have to offer. You wouldn't pitch your energy drink to the local magazine's Theater Editor, would you? Know the media, read it and you'll know who you want to target.
Break it down - You see an opportunity for your product/service with 500 media outlets and bloggers, but with limited time that seems entirely too daunting a task so, paralyzed by the enormity, you choose to do nothing. My suggestion is to pick your top 10 or 25 media outlets (depending on your time) and chip away at the long list slowly but surely, with a focus on those that will definitely be interested to create quick hits. Give each grouping about a month and then move on to the next grouping, only following up with those media that showed previous interest.
Make the time - Schedule out time in your week, about two-three hours, to work on your PR efforts - developing a media list, writing your press release, pitching media and follow up. If you stay focused and really commit during that time, you will be happy to see how much you can accomplish. It may take some time to get started, but once you get rolling and generate interest, it will be easier and worth it!
Be available and attentive - Most of the time media have pretty tight deadlines. That means they need to talk to you while they're writing the story. So, it's important to make sure that you are available to media who do show interest in your business. This means getting back to them right away when they call or email, even if they can only do an interview with you in the next hour. This is what you wanted, right? So make sure you are responsive to their requests, meet their needs, answer their questions all in as timely a fashion as possible. Otherwise, you might miss out and your efforts will all be for not.
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