Getting publicity is great for any business, especially a small business. It adds to your credibility, it drives more leads, and Google loves you for it. But the biggest questions is: How?
How on earth does a small business get publicity without hiring a PR firm raking you across the coals for immeasurable results? The answer lies in a little PR strategy I developed a couple of years ago. The best thing about this neat little system is that you can make it as big or as small as you want.
The thing about PR
Before I dive into the strategy, there is one thing you should know. It is very difficult to measure the success of a PR campaign. Seriously. If there was an algorithm that could do it, it would have to have a convolution of metrics that will make your head pop.
I use a very simple method. I just count how many newspapers contacted me, or my client, for an interview. That’s right. By using this strategy there is a very good chance of a reporter contacting you to set up an interview.
One client I did this for got featured in the Huffington Post, Christian Post, got a radio interview, and was in the back pages of the Los Angeles Times. If you want specifics on that case study then give me a call.
The PR Strategy
Step #1 – Do something newsworthy
I know this sounds difficult, but it really isn’t. I usually create a YouTube video and push a 100,000 views to it. I know what you are thinking. WHAT?!
How on this green Earth do I push 100,000 views to my YouTube video? Well, it is much easier and cheaper than you would think. By utilizing, Virool.com and VirURL you can easily get tens of thousands of views. For more info on how to do this read the following article I wrote last week: How to get 100,000 Views to Your YouTube Video.
Once you have a video with tons of views you can write enticing, and newsworthy, press releases. Imagine the following title landing in the newspaper ‘Small Business Owner Bamboozled by Overnight YouTube Success.”
I realize that this might seem like a monumental task so here are a couple of easier suggestions for newsworthy content.
- Give money to charity.
- Give away your service or product to a person in need.
- Use a case study to show how you helped the average John Doe.
- Re-launch a service or product while supporting a controversial cause, like Gay Marriage.
So you don’t really need a video even though it does help a lot, because there are so many other possibilities. You just have to be a little creative. I would suggest locking yourself, and your business partner/helper, in a room and spit balling ideas on what you can release to the press.
Don’t fall into the trap that most companies fall into – boring old crap that journalists and people will ignore.
Step #2 – Write your press release
Writing a press release is a bit more specific than it should be. There is a proper format and you need include certain bits of information, and it needs to be a certain length. Unfortunately for us, journalists made all of these rules and we can’t ignore them.
Here is an example of a press release format provided by Publicity Insider.
Make sure you stick to that format, otherwise your press release is going to be a massive waste of money.
A couple of things to remember about the writing style:
- Ignore all those idiot driven press releases with ‘Break Through’, ‘Unique’, or ‘State of the Art’. They have been ineffective since the war ended (the first one).
- Think like a journo (journalist). You are reporting the news. You are not launching a product or doing ‘PR’. That means never referring to ‘I’ or ‘we’ unless you are quoting someone.
- You should ideally keep your press release to 500-700 words. Any more than that and you will be glazed over.
Get your press release written for you
I know. None of us have any time to write a press release, and if we do, will it even be any good? What if it sucks? Luckily for us, there are thousands of professional journalists that do a bit of writing on the side.
Head over to Textbroker.com and get a 5 star author to write your release. It should be no more than $50, which is an absolute bargain! Make sure to let them know about any quotes, stats, or other bits of information you want in there.
Step #3 – Distributing your press release
So now you have your awesome release written by some savvy cigar smoking freelance journalist. What now?
Well, the pros in the industry all use PR Newswire, but it is expensive and a bit confusing. You want something that is simple, and much, much cheaper. Introducing PRWeb. You can get a basic press release from just $99 – bargain! However, I would recommend looking through their packages and seeing which one you can afford.
Their premium services go to premium news papers like the New York Times, USA Today etc. You want to reach them as much as you want to reach the local guys. If the national news agencies find your story interesting, they will pass it on to a local newspaper to find out more about you.
Step #4 – Engage & Respond
The fourth step gives you about a 20% boost in your exposure and brand awareness. By engaging i.e. commenting, answering questions, responding to blogs etc. you will encourage people to find out about your business.
So how do you do it? How do you find out where people are talking about you?
You should keep an eye on every single website (about 300 million) that have anything to do with blogging or news. Luckily for you, there is a system out there that already keeps an eye on all of these guys. The mighty Google!
You should go to Google.com/alerts and set up an alert for your company name, or your personal name, so that you get an email at the end of each day, letting you know exactly where you were mentioned.
Go to these pages and interact. It is an amazing way to get people to talk about you a bit more.
Frequency & the Overall Cost
In a nutshell, how much is this going to cost you, and how often should you do it?
The costs really vary depending on how huge you want to go with this thing. I’m going to try and break it down for you.
- Writing the press release: $50
- PRWeb premium release: $400
- Video creation & promotion: $2,000-$4,000 (optional)
I would definitely recommend doing this about 1-3 times per quarter. The more you do it the more you will appear in the press, especially the local press. Be careful though. If you don’t have anything newsworthy to report, then don’t do it. You will waste both your money and your time.
Is this right for you?
In theory this is right for every business, but there are many other online marketing mediums you should be using before doing PR like blogging and SEO/content marketing. They are cheaper and give you more measurable results.
Have you ever used a PR strategy? What was the outcome?