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12 Tips for DIY PR


The DIY craze has been around for years. Thanks to the cable television, the Internet and the whole "information at your finger tips" you can learn to do most anything from changing your oil to renovating your bathroom. Personally, I love it. Taking on a task normally I would pay for feels like so much of a personal accomplishment, however, my cobbler and plumber will always get my business.

In recent years, the DIY movement has become even more prevalent due to the economy. This means that

small businesses and startups are taking on even more tasks on top of running their business just to save money, but are aware that they must keep moving forward. So, you're letting your "fingers do the typing" in order to learn and accomplish.

When a business wants to take on DIY PR it is REALLY important that they don’t overwhelm themselves. Sure, there are a number of media you want to be in but I teach, in my workshops and classes, the following to busy entrepreneurs who have a lot on their plates already:

  • Differentiation: The first step before any marketing should be implemented is to truly differentiate yourself from competition and within the industry. How can you be different and stand out? Why are you better? What is your story and why is it different? If you're the same as the next, chances are good you will get overlooked.

  • Stay focused on your primary audience: If you want retailers/distributors go to the industry trades, if you want consumers sort out those that specifically target your audience (you have to be realistic here).

  • Follow media: If you want to be in a certain publication, know that publication or blog. Read it, follow it and locate the right person to speak to. You have to know who you’re pitching. A sports writer isn’t going to do a pet product feature. You have to make sure you have the right contact, know what they right on and more importantly that the publication/blog even covers your industry.

  • Make your story timely: This is important. Don’t tell media about your product/service, tell them the WHY of how you started your business. The “WH’s” are important. What problem does it solve and back it up with facts/statistics, and if at all possible, tie it in with a broader trend story happening in the US or the industry

  • Include visuals with a short introductory pitch: Start your email with a concise and short pitch – a paragraph or two short ones at most – and you can include your press release below it with a visual. If you have a product, a picture, if you have a short video, that’s great too. NEVER send attachments. Always copy and paste with low res graphics. If they want more, they’ll ask for it. Sometimes seeing the product can make all the difference in understanding what it is.

  • Offer a free trial: If you have an online service, give media the opportunity to test it for themselves so they can write a review from their own experience, or send a sample in the mail with a press kit on CD. But….don’t put yourself in a position of giving away too much product.

  • Set up an online press room: This is one of the BEST things you can do. With so many media, and freelancers, out surfing the web for story ideas, you want to give them everything they need to write a story or include your company. Make sure you have your press release, company backgrounder, product fact sheets, tip sheets (if possible for expert positioning) and approved, high res graphics all of which can be easily downloaded from your site. Most importantly, make sure your contact information is on the press release and the online press room so they know who to contact should they want an interview or have trouble downloading information.

  • Do PR in phases: Make a list of all of the media you’d like to be in. Take the top 25 you want the most and go after those first. Then the next 25 and so on. This really reduces the stress and feeling of being overwhelmed by so many opportunities. Some companies could have a list of 200 or more!

  • Follow up is KEY! Just because you send a press release out doesn’t mean media/bloggers are going to drop everything to do your story right then and there. They have their own things to work on. You have to practice the delicate art of following up (not stalking). This means following up once a week until you’ve done so two-three times after initially pitching them. Then move on. You can always pick up that list and follow up again in 30 days or so. And don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call, although most media prefer an initial email pitch first.

  • Always make time to respond to media: If someone calls for an interview or shows interest, do to you need to respond to them right away and insure you get them what they need. Often times media run on tight deadlines and that could mean a phone interview within the hour. Make yourself available, otherwise, they will find someone else who will.

  • Say thank you: One of the best things you can do to build a relationship with a journalist or blogger is to thank them for their review/story or opportunity to be interviewed. It goes a long way.

  • Spread that love on social media: You were included in a story in Entrepreneur? Be sure to Tweet and @ them with a big thanks. It helps both of you build reputation and further a relationship.

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© 2020 Cascade Communications Public relations agency and marketing communications for small business and startups. Offices in Chicago and Omaha.