Public Relations Strategy on a Tight Budget

  • AUTHOR: StartupNation Writer
  • DATE: 03/28/2006

Do you need publicity for your business, but the funds to hire a
public relations professional are non-existent? Don’t despair. There
are several public relations tactics you can use to get your business
mentioned in the press and increase brand awareness. Here are five steps you can take toward a public relations strategy to position your business for some great exposure, something every entrepreneur can use to help land new customers!

1. Research media venues

Start
by researching media venues that focus on your target audience. Ask
your customers what they like to read, watch and listen to on the
radio. Search online or browse periodicals at your local library to
find publications that are pertinent to your target audience. For
example, if you are starting a daycare, check out magazines, newspapers
and online publications that target parents.

Once you
have a good understanding of the key media venues you’d like to pursue,
pay attention to which reporters cover your particular industry, or
“beat,” at each venue. Try to obtain their contact information and
review their previously-published articles.

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Then, ask yourself some important questions:

  • What topics do these reporters cover?
  • What are their areas of expertise?
  • Who have they interviewed in the past?

Record the information in a database or file that is easily
accessible. Many media venues have high turnover rates, so you’ll want
to keep abreast of new reporters and update your notes accordingly. Try
to faithfully read each publication, and pay attention to reporter
bylines as they come and go.

2. Develop story angles

After you have a list of prime media contacts, the next step in your public relations strategy is to figure out why these reporters will want to write about your business. Why will they care about what you have to say?

Create
some interesting story angles by relating your products or services to
current trends, news, case studies, and recent research. For example,
if there is a big story in the news about a computer virus, and your
new business sells virus-protection software, you’ll want to let media
members know how your software can fight against this particular virus
and that you have experts available who can discuss the issue in
detail.

Once you have a few good ideas, create an
outline of all the key points you want to share with each media
contact. Then, practice what you are going to say. You will want to
communicate your thoughts clearly and with great enthusiasm, without
having to read from a script. Try to capture each reporter’s attention
by speaking intelligently and with authority about your story angle.

3. Make contact

Once
you’ve lined up your ideas, contact the media members you’ve identified
by sending them a pertinent announcement, press release or simple
introduction that elaborates on one of your story angles. You can send
your press releases via fax or e-mail or use a press-release
distribution service such as PR Newswire.

If you are sending a press release, make it as succinct as possible . We've got examples of press releases you can review for style and tone. Another great way to discover how to write a release is to review news from your competitors and other successful companies in your industry.

Remember,
reporters receive hundreds of pitches each day so you need to convey
your story idea quickly and truthfully. Also, have someone check your
press release for errors, tone and newsworthiness prior to announcing
it to the public. This will help you convey information that builds
credibility and generates interest.

At this point, you
can also call or e-mail each media member directly to follow-up and
make sure that they’ve received your release. Introduce yourself and
ask if he or she would like to continue receiving appropriate news
about your business. Just be sure to keep your conversation brief, and
end the call if a reporter does not have time to speak with you. If you
follow up too frequently or annoy reporters, your efforts can easily
backfire. And that media venue may not mention your business for a very
long time!

4. Get involved

If you want potential customers and the press to know about your business, it is also essential to get out and attend local club meetings, events and presentations .
Tell people about your products and services. Volunteer to speak about
your area of expertise at local events hosted by the chamber of
commerce or other organizations.

Reporters cover
important community events so if you are a part of the activities, you
significantly increase your chances of receiving an interview and
published quote. Many times, press members will seek out event speakers
for interviews before, during or after the event. It’s a great way to
position yourself as an expert in your field and attract attention from
potential customers. Plus, just by attending and networking at the
event, you can build some valuable business and media relationships.

5. Be persistent

Once you start promoting your business, don’t stop. A sustainable public relations strategy
is a long-term endeavor. It can take months to capture the attention of
targeted media venues. Plus, it’s important to remind the press about
your business on a regular basis so they don’t forget about you.

Are
you launching a new product or service? Is there some hot topic in the
news that relates to the product you offer? It might be time for
another press announcement to remind reporters that you’re still out
there.

Also, make it as easy as possible for media
members to know the products, services and expertise you have to offer.
Provide the news and resources they need to meet their deadlines. Give
them your current contact information so they can get in touch with you
at any time. And don’t get discouraged. If you’ve done the work, and
the time is right, you will get a call.   

It is
possible to build a sustainable public relations strategy on a
shoestring budget. Spend the time necessary researching targeted media
venues, creating compelling pitches and participating in appropriate
business and community events on a regular basis, and you will be well
on your way to drumming up some great media exposure.


Melanie Rembrandt is the owner of Rembrandt Communications,
LLC. She provides targeted writing and public relations services for
small business owners who want to increase brand awareness on time and
within budget.

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
StartupNation Writer
StartupNation Writer

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