14 WAYS TO JUMPSTART YOUR OWN PR
Dear creators, makers, business owners and entrepreneurs…
Hands up if you get frustrated by the thought of not enough people knowing about the great work your business does? Or depleted by not getting recognition for the great work that you do and all that you know?
Or overwhelmed in the knowing that you could bring a heap of joy to more people, if only bigger audiences knew about you and your business?
Perhaps your business really deserves to be shared with more of the world but there’s no available budget for outsourcing your PR. And you’re not sure where to start.
Good news. You’re definitely not alone.
And even better news is that there’s so much you can do right away to manage your own PR until you’re in a place where you can outsource it (if you choose to).
There are things you can do now for little to no cost to position you and your business better, to grow your audience and secure the acknowledgment you deserve.
Firstly, let’s throw the concept that ‘PR equals media coverage’ in the bin. Yep, in the bin. Publicity is only one aspect of Public Relations. The true beauty and impact of PR in a holistic sense is so much more than just publicity.
The impact of PR increases brand awareness, changes perception, influences behaviour, builds long-lasting and meaningful relationships for the person, place or thing that is being PRd. I repeat, publicity is only one aspect of PR. Which leads me to another thought; that I will often get introduced as a publicist. That’s like introducing a GP as a prescription writer. Or a teacher as a babysitter. Publicity, is just one tactic to the multi-dimensional world and Mary Poppins bag of PR. Just one! So definitely re-frame what your concept of PR is and let’s go.
Here are 14 ways you can jumpstart your own PR:
01 Know your outcomes
Before you dive into hacking your own PR, make sure you’re clear on your ideal outcomes. Perhaps you want to connect your business with potential investors; or you want to secure well-placed editorial coverage, or maybe you want to drive local awareness, visitation and ultimately sales. Know what winning would look like so that you can reverse engineer your PR strategy.
02 Nail your key messages
If you’re going to start spreading the news; get clear on what your business stands for, why it exists, what your news is and why your product, place or thing is different. ‘Key messages’ is just a communications term, which means; ‘get clear on what you want to say before you say it’. It’s the basis of any good conversation. This will help you build a quality story around your pitch.
03 Create a media list
List build by Googling your peers or competitors. Then start building a list of where they’re securing coverage. Note who the journalists or influencers are that are writing about them so that you can start to reverse engineer a media pitching strategy. The media writing about your competitors are likely to be interested in your industry and business too. You’ll just need to get clever on creating a story idea or content opportunity that would be relevant and new. You can also search Google News to find articles related to your topic that you’d like to pitch.
04 Perfect your pitch.
The art of communication is in the language. Once you know who you want to talk to, develop a pitch that will clearly speak to your idea or vision with clarity. Media (and anyone in life) get a deluge of information to cipher through; make your message of opportunity achieve cut-through with clear and value-based communication. What’s in it for them? Speak to that.
05 Keep your email subject heading on point
When reaching out to media via email make sure your subject heading is relevant to what’s in the body of the email. It’s also best to put timing around it so that they know when the opportunity is for.
06 Outreach and hustle, follow-up and hustle
Get busy on your media outreach. Or in other words hustle your heart out. Don’t expect people to get back to you in an instant or at all. And don’t give up if you’ve truly got an opportunity that adds value to that business or publication. If it doesn’t strike a chord initially, re-angle the story and try again. This is where grit, determination and resilience comes into the skill and pursuit of excellent PR. Definitely don’t beg. And definitely don’t be a pest. It’s about unearthing quality opportunities that are aligned to whoever you’re to.
07 Secure press-worthy imagery
Make sure you’ve got a bank of images to draw from to support your PR efforts. You’ll need campaign images, product images, location images, personal profile images, and possibly images of you doing your thang (if you’re an artist, creator or maker; you in your studio). Get familiar with the type of images your ideal media outlets publish and use that as inspiration to creatively direct your next shoot. Get a PR or creative production team around you to help you execute on your photo assets if styling and art direction is out of your comfort zone. The right image or photo opportunity is often what will help your PR opportunity secure take-up.
08 Don’t wait for media to tell your story
Start telling your own story exactly the way you want it to be told, on your own platforms. If you’re not creating your own content, you’re missing out on the basic foundations of PR – online reputation management. Media receive editorial opportunities and in the end write from their perspective (as they should). It’s not always the end result you hoped for; because it’s not an ad. You can’t control the messaging. Managing your own content means controlling your own story. You’d be silly not to.
09 Get your social media firing
Make sure you’re consistently posting on social media. Triple down on the knowledge you have and share what you know to give back. The more you sell the less you’ll sell. This is about building relationships through storytelling, shared interests, community and connection. The best relationships take time and genuine investment. Get comfortable with zero to no engagement unless you’re paying for above-the-line visibility (aka advertising). Be happy with sharing your world in a meaningful and on-brand way. When potential customers or associations stumble upon your business and want to learn more they’ll be plenty for them to absorb and decide if you are right for them. One post or ad won’t sell anything. It’s about repetition, consistency and education. Content drives business. Content is PR.
Position yourself as an expert by self-publishing what you know. Be it through long-form social media posts, blogging, an e-newsletter, LinkedIn, Google for Business or via a third party media outlet. You don’t have to be a thought leader; just a thought contributor. To shape your content strategy, ask yourself…What do you know? What can you share to help others? What are the problems your business solves? What are the frequently asked questions your customers have? Why is your business special and unique?
11 Follow key media, engage
Ok, so you don’t want to be a stalker. But PR is about networking. It’s about relationship building. Good friends aren’t made by just talking about yourself and pushing a one-way agenda; it’s the same for people working in media. Media is a collective noun for actual humans who work in the media. I repeat, they are actual humans. Get familiar with what they’re about via social media or their publications. Support them, comment on their work, know what they’re interested in. Be real.
12 Join industry Facebook groups
There’s a heap of business networking groups on Facebook where you can contribute, give back and position yourself better to drive awareness for your business. It always comes back to adding value and not selling as well as seeking genuine connection and collaboration opportunities, which unearth valuable PR outcomes.
13 Influence the Influencers
Seek out influencers who are aligned to your business and who might be able to help you share your message. Just in the same way you should follow traditional media, reach out to connect with and engage with influencers (also humans) who are creating and making content that would represent you and your business well.
14 Host an event
I left this last because there are so many things you can do to manage your own PR before you spend money on venue hire, champagne and flowers. Hosting an event however brings people together, gets them connected with your brand through experience and fosters brand memories, cultivating awareness. The best events are the most intimate and thoughtfully art directed. They don’t need to be smashes with a perpetually rotating, guest list of party people. Keep it small. Do it well. Communicate clearly on what your event is about, develop a guest list that’s relevant to and who can help you secure content that you’ll be able to repurpose. As always, make sure your activation is well produced, thoughtful, and of high quality. If managing an event (be it a product launch or small networking lunch for example) is out of your comfort zone, focus on the other tactics that will kick-start your PR and that you can execute on.
It’s such a cool time to be alive because so much of this you can get started on now. Kick-starting your PR efforts feels liberating and need not wait until you have a PR budget.
Have another helpful idea to manage your own PR? Look for this post and share your ideas via the comments on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn or wherever you hang out.
Words by Jade Roberts
raraPR Founder and Director
raraPR is above all the sum of people who together help build brands and share stories. We are present in our determination to make a positive difference to the world by representing individuals and businesses that are doing good. We are an extension of the personal stories within us, those that we exist for and those within you that need to be heard.