Contact the Media
After conducting extensive research and preparing your story ideas, you’ll be ready to contact the media.
Make the Introduction
You can start with a press release announcing your new business and call or e-mail the appropriate media member with a simple introduction.
Introduce yourself as an entrepreneur and ask if he or she would like to receive appropriate news about your business. Keep your conversation short, and end the call if the reporter is short on time trying to meet a deadline.
As a small business owner telling your own story, you have a good chance of capturing a reporter’s attention. However, if you’re unprepared or annoy a reporter with too many calls, emails or faxes, you may create the exact opposite effect of what you’re trying to do – and that could shut off opportunity at that media outlet.
Save all your contacts
Given the fact that contacting the press can be somewhat of a “numbers game” involving multiple contacts, it’s a smart practice to build a media database that helps you track any and all interactions and follow up items associated with reporters. This way, you stay on top of all details, no matter how many leads you’ve developed.
Hiring the Professionals
Now, if you don’t have time to do your own media relations or are simply not reaching your PR goals, it may be wise to hire a professional. And you’ll probably want to focus on hiring an individual expert or small firm first to get the best results as cost-effectively as possible. Without a big budget, you may not get the attention you deserve from a large, PR agency.
And you will see a range of fee offerings. Some publicists charge a monthly retainer fee. Others invoice based on their performance. Many charge by project or provide an hourly rate. And these hourly fees can range anywhere from $50.00 to $300.00-plus depending on the experience level, expertise and location of the publicist.
Media-monitoring, press-release distribution, and media-list services are usually additional costs. But keep in mind that you usually get the quality of services that you pay for. Plus, by outsourcing your publicity efforts, you’ll be able to concentrate on core, business-growth activities.
To find good candidates, review information at the Public Relations Society of America website, ask colleagues, friends and partners for recommendations, and find out who your competition uses.
Follow by Example
Visit the online newsrooms for companies similar to yours and see what kind of press they are getting. Also check the sites of potential publicists to review their background, expertise, specialties, writing style, and more. You really want to find someone who will act as an extension of your team and be passionate about your business offerings.
And most important, there should be a good understanding of pricing, services and tentative results among both parties prior to signing a contract with a new publicist or PR agency.
Questions for Hiring a Potential New Publicist
Prior to talking to a public relations agency, it’s important to conduct research, review credentials, look for client testimonials, and review your specific goals. This will give you a better idea of what to ask a potential new publicist and what to expect from specific PR activities.
Here are some potential interview questions to help you get started:
- Who will I be working with at your organization and what is that person’s experience?
- Will more than one person at your organization be helping me, or will I have one, central point of contact?
- How can you help my small business build awareness and reach my specific goals?
- How long do you think it will be before I see results?
- What services are included in your fees?
- Do you have some references I can contact?
- Do you provide any guarantees or discounts?
- Why should I use you for my public relations needs instead of another organization?
- How do your contracts usually work?
- Is there a way to have a trial period before making an actual commitment? Will I be able to end our contract if I am not happy with your services?
Small business owners will want to ask any other questions pertinent to their unique situation and needs.