“Public relations is an essential part of doing business — which is why you’re probably shelling out big money to an outside PR firm. However, the truth is, you already have all the necessary tools in-house to do as good a job as the so-called ‘experts’.” – Free PR
Here are some tips to help you get more free PR for your business today!
1. Know Your Angle & Your Audience
Every news outlet is different, so it’s important to know who you are pitching to. You need to know how to position your story appropriately for each one.
“You want to use the information you already know about your target market to figure out which media sources they are visiting. With this, you’ll likely simultaneously identify the media outlets that care about providing your target audience with information” – pg. 66, Free PR
While the elements and facts of your story will remain the same, the structure of your pitch should vary. This means that you should lead with the part of your story that most interests the person you are talking to. This will help your pitch stand out and have more impact.
2. Craft & Direct Your Pitch
Your pitch has to be short, targeted and to the point. Since you already spent so much time researching your target audience, this shouldn’t be a problem!
“It’s important that you are fully aware of who you are pitching. Is your pitch related to what they typically cover? You need to put some effort in, but sadly, most pitches are done completely blind, with zero research or thought behind them.” – Entrepreneur
Many larger news outlets have a different department or email contact for each topic, so make sure you’re directing your pitch appropriately. Any carelessness in this regard can prompt some journalists to delete your email without even opening it.
3. Make It Even More Personal
Once you’ve got the correct address and you know the name of your contact, go the extra mile to make things even more personal!
It goes without saying in 2020, but don’t ever blind copy the same “To Whom It May Concern” email to all your press leads. Those in the media have become highly attuned to form emails and find them very off-putting.
“If you’re reaching out to twenty different journalists, you don’t have to write twenty different pitches. However, you do have to tailor your pitches to the situation at hand.” – pg. 129, Free PR
The same email can often be sent to many news outlets, but you want to be extremely careful that you are changing identifying information like names and specific references.
While much of the information in your emails will be similar, personalize them by adding a line or two relevant to your contact’s past work or current projects. This way, you make your pitch personal without having to craft dozens of widely different messages.
4. Pick Up The Phone
Sometimes an email just doesn’t cut it. If you have a preexisting relationship with a reporter or have crafted a story angle you know they will love, it’s time to pick up the phone!
While some in the media find phone calls annoying, others still find them quite useful.
“Not every journalist loathes a phone call; indeed, a small number actually prefers them to email… a well-targeted call can be a helpful reminder about the news they might have missed.” – Agility PR
5. Be Camera Ready!
Make sure your offices and team are camera ready for the instances when the media do show up.
Is your branding as clear as it can be? Do your staff know how to pose appropriately for a picture? Have you prepared talking points in case of an interview? These very practical questions and more are covered in the book Free PR, and will help you make sure your company is camera ready!
A good image with a clear message helps you amplify your story by making it easy and inviting to share. In the digital age of media, a good photo op can sometimes tell your story more powerfully than even the most well-crafted copy.
The momentum of a story that is easy to share will create a snowball effect. Something that started out as one link on a single news site can quickly turn into multiple posts & features across many platforms. This is a win for the media and a win for your business.
At the end of the day, news and media outlets are in the business of advertising. They need quality content in order to sell ads. News outlets will take note if stories about you and your company are popular on their site, and be more likely to feature you again in the future.
“Don’t forget that this process is a quid pro quo. You’re providing a valuable service to the media, just as the media is providing a valuable service to you.” p. 34, Free PR
These tools to get you free PR work, but you have to use them. Practice with the small news outlets first in order to find your footing. Spend time crafting your pitch, studying your target audience and preparing your business to go live – you might never have to hire a PR firm again!
This article originally appeared in the HawkeMedia blog and has been published here with permission.