You have a great product or service to offer. Let’s say you’ve created a useful website, staffed your customer service phone lines with helpful professionals, perfected your brick and mortar presence, and purchased advertising in the form of print ads, web ads, or television/radio spots. Are you done singing the praises of your business for the masses to take notice and start purchasing in waves? Not by a long shot. You still have work to do and, fortunately, this work is technically free. It’s time to generate some PR, or public relations, buzz.
It doesn’t matter whether you own a web-based business rooted in the beauty industry or a brick and mortar coffeehouse, for example, public relations should be a key part of your business plan. From drafting and distributing press releases about newsworthy events to pitching journalists story ideas that mention your product or service, there are lots of ways to generate buzz about your business using traditional and modern PR tactics. Here are five easy ways to get the public talking about (and buying) your product or service.
Write PR About Newsworthy Events
One of the most basic and effective ways to get the word out about your product or service is to write a press release. News releases are basic news and media stories that cover the who, what, when, where and why of a newsworthy event or development, alerting journalists and the public to take notice and help spread the word. Consider drafting a press release about a special sale, a new product you are carrying, or a new retail location you’ve opened. Use the PR templates and tips offered at PRNewswire as your guide during the writing process. Include quotes from yourself or other key players within your business to establish their expertise and authority. Among the most important tips, be brief as you write and write objectively.
Distribute Your PR to Targeted Media Contacts and Outlets
Once you’ve written your PR, it’s time to distribute your news. Start by publishing the PR to your website and sending it via email to your already-established business contacts. Next, use search engines to research local or targeted newspaper, magazine and web-based news outlets within your industry. Most news outlets nowadays list editor or journalist contact info for story tips and ideas. Create a basic media list that includes editor or journalist names, outlets and contact info and build an email distribution list for your release. You can also take advantage of a number of no-cost digital PR distribution services that will publish your release and, in some cases, send it to targeted industry contacts free of charge. Check out PR.com, PRLog.org, and Free-press-release.com.
Conduct PR Follow-Ups
Once you have distributed your news, it’s time to follow up. If you’ve already sent your news to media contacts, consider following up with the editor or journalist via a phone call or an email to gauge their interest in writing about your news. Digital PR outreach not only gives you valuable information, but also plants the seeds for an ongoing relationship that may lead to future media coverage for your business. Furthermore, a quick follow-up email or call with the contact can help answer any additional questions he or she might have been considering before writing about your news.
Use HARO and Other Reporter Outreach Tools
HARO, or Help A Reporter Out, is an email-based distribution service that catalogs reporter requests for sources. Once you sign up, you’ll receive a thrice-daily email with reporter source requests in various industries of your choosing. Responding to source requests is simple via these tools. Simply email the reporter at the provided email address, introduce yourself and explain why you’d make a great interviewed source for their piece. One of the keys of making HARO and other reporter outreach tools like SourceBottle.com and ExpertiseFinder.com work is timing. Generally, the sooner you respond to journalist requests, the more likely you’ll be contacted for an interview, so be sure to work efficiently.
Conduct Reporter and Blogger Outreach and Pitch Yourself As A Source
If you have an idea for a story, don’t underestimate the value of cold-calling and cold-emailing a contact. Put together a story pitch for a targeted outlet, reporter or blogger by writing a simple one-paragraph email that explains your story idea and how you and your business might fit into the piece. Explain that you are available for interviews and open to serving as an expert source for other pieces the journalist may work on in the future that cover your industry. This strategy opens up an ongoing dialog with the media contact, helping you determine more specifically what he or she is looking for in a source. Eventually, your efforts may lead to an interview, a quote and/or an article that puts your business on the map. Additionally, search media outlet websites for editorial calendars. Used most often for advertising placement, editorial calendars can give you a peek into the article topics planned for a specific issue and give you an appropriate window into pitching your story idea and yourself as an expert source.
Although it isn’t easy to generate PR around your product or service, it can be done on a shoestring marketing budget and in some cases, at no cost except time. Experiment with each of these methods for generating exposure and see which works best for you and your business. As with many marketing and PR outreach strategies, trial and error will be your best determinant for success. Throughout each of these methods, continue doing what you do best: producing an excellent product or provide an excellent service. After all, happy customers that willingly sing your praises without any prompting from you are the best kind of free PR.