When you're a small business owner you wear every hat from accounts receivable and manager to new business/sales and marketing. It can be a daunting task to look at that laundry list everyday. What you need to do is determine the most efficient route to accomplish it all and grow your business.
Determining how to generate public relations for your business can be narrowed down to three things - what is your story, why is it meaningful to people and who is your audience. Knowing these three things will drive marketing strategies and sales, growing your business.
What is your story? Sit down and think about it. As a journalist myself, I always look for something that is newsworthy - a new product or service concept that consumers will be interested in - timeliness of the story - is it an event happening now or does it fit in with current industry and news trends - what it means to the consumer - will it make life easier or contribute to their lifestyle - and finally the background of the company's owners; their story. Your story provides an additional human interest angle that tells why you started your company, what it means to you as someone who can relate, what the current industry and news trends are and how you hope your company will contribute to the community.
Next, the most important thing you can do for your business is to really grasp a strong idea of who your audience is. After all, how can you market to them if you don't know where they live, what their lifestyle is like, where they shop, eat, etc. and what their needs are? Knowing your audience will also help you be more efficient in generating PR because you can also determine where they get their news.
The good news is that the huge number and amount of diverse media out there today means that you can easily target your costumer with your story/company news. There is a magazine, website and news writer that cover just about everything and anything. Finding them can be a challenge, but once you do you know that the journalist will be interested on behalf of their readers.
Distributing your press release can be another challenge on a small budget, but there are a number of websites that offer free, limited distribution online and through RSS feeds. You can pay more for increased exposure, but this can be considerably more affordable than using traditional press release distribution companies. They are definitely worth looking into.
Just do a search for "free press release distribution" and several of the 10-20 websites should come up. I also recommend buying RSS software for about $60 or so bucks and setting up a feed from your web site's news or media page. RSS searches the web for news and relative information to those who are searching specifically through RSS - mostly journalists. It's another great way to generate attention.
You may pay for your release to be posted online, but the "results" are paid partnerships. These postings can, however, assist with search and discovery that can lead to journalists eventually finding it.
Proactive media outreach: Now that your release is written, you know your audience, you've distributed the release online, and, if you really want make an impression, you've done some research online to build a media list that targets your consumer/audience. It's time to reach out with a brief pitch (short synopsis of your news story) and link to the press release or the company's online newsroom.
The final step is follow up. Remember that journalists are inundated with press kits and releases by snail mail and email on a daily basis. You have to take the extra step to cut through the clutter by calling or emailing the journalist with a brief story pitch (or why they should take interest in your business) and begin to build a relationship with them. Follow up on the information you've already sent to them. This can take a few tries (sometimes up to four) before they are able to get to it, or decide they aren't interested.
Set expectations: Media interviews have changed in recent years. Every company owner wants to be interviewed by a journalist, but due to the changing nature of media outlets and consumer consumption, and depending on your industry category, journalists and media are more likely to send a Q&A interview via email. They are also looking for experts to put in round up stories. Search has also play a part in the type of news stories media outlets now produce. It's good to understand this.
The story might not run right away. This is often out of the hands of the journalist, but your patience and understanding can build relationships now that will continue to benefit your business in the long run.