Every business needs PR. Unless your company is put in front of the people who are most likely to buy, in the places where they get their news, information and entertainment, your business will suffer - and will eventually struggle to stay viable.
There are many elements that make up an effective PR strategy and to go into each one in-depth here would be impossible. However, what I can do is offer you some advice for getting off on the right foot in each major area of your very own do-it-yourself PR strategy, with the goal of getting maximum exposure for your brand, with minimum investments of time and capital.
Here are my top tips:
1. Identify your target audience
Unless you know who is most interested in your product or service, you won't know how to most effectively choose the media outlets you will pitch to. Identify your ideal clients (age, location, earning bracket, family situation, etc.) by asking who has the problem you're solving and who is most likely to appreciate and pay for what you're offering.
2. Pinpoint key influencers
Every target audience shares commonalities when it comes to making decisions and the people they look to for support in making those decisions. Whether it’s a celebrity, a blogger or a peer support group, your ideal client is influenced by someone.
Find out who that someone is, take note of the characteristics they possess that appeal to your target audience members, make contact and make the connection.
3. Construct your key message
Your ideal client is suffering from a problem, and he or she wants to know that you understand their pain and have just what they need to relieve it. You can only convey this information through targeted communications, using words and phrases they are familiar with and that stir the emotions that will spur them into action.
As you write the message that will run through all communications with customers and journalists, aim to make every customer feel that you're speaking directly to them and their need for relief.
4. Tell your stories
Human beings learn through stories, become attached to concepts through stories and communicate with stories. You and your business have stories that will endear your brand to your target audience members, and it's important that you have these stories ready to tell, when the time is right and when those stories will help to make the connection among journalists, your ideal clients and your company.
5. Identify the media outlets that will maximise exposure
First, pinpoint those media channels where your target audience members are getting their information and entertainment. After all, press that caters to anyone but your ideal client will not only be a waste of time, it could also be detrimental to your brand's reputation.
Next, find out what the journalists who work for those media outlets are looking for. Do they tend to publish human interest stories, or do they gravitate towards news about exciting events? Or maybe they are working to build a B2B or B2C community that identifies their publication as a central hub. Choose those media outlets and journalists whom you think will have goals in common with yours, whose primary audience is rich with your ideal clients and who will see that news about your brand will boost their own profiles.
6. Prepare a press pack
A press pack, or media kit, provides information journalists will need to verify your expertise and to use as support for any story you submit. Never expect a journalist to go digging for information on you or your business — they're simply too busy and will instead take a story from someone who supplies all the information they need, in one place.
A press pack includes things like your company profile (vision, mission statement, timeline, etc.), a biography of company founder(s) or most relevant team member, photos, videos, links to your business' important online places, testimonials, screenshots, etc.
7. Write press releases
The businesses that get the most press are often the businesses that submit the most relevant press releases to the most applicable media outlets. It is unlikely that any story about your business will be picked up without some sort of prompting, and press releases are journalists' information sources of choice.
A good press release includes a scintillating headline, a newsworthy angle, a third-person point of view, an inverted pyramid writing style, with most important information at the beginning, quotes and contact details, as well as correct grammar, punctuation and spelling.
Any motivated, focused business owner can land the type of media coverage that will advance their company to the next level of awareness and profitability. And with the right advice, you can do it faster and more effectively than the competition.
The tips I've shared here will get you started on your way to effective DIY PR. If you’d like to join one of our online training courses you can find out more information here, as well as free tips and advice in our thriving Facebook group The PR Hub for Entrepreneurs.
About Alison Shadrack
Alison Shadrack is the founder and CEO of Adia PR, the boutique PR agency for entrepreneurs. A serial entrepreneur herself, Alison’s passion for good PR is at the heart of everything she does. She has put together an expert team of PR professionals dedicated to ensuring their clients are heard and seen in the right places. Not specialising in any one sector, their typical clients are entrepreneurs who have something new to bring to the market or challenge the leading brands; intent on disrupting their industry; or want to be recognised as thought-leaders. Adia PR delivers a creative mix of sanity and vanity PR to build their reputation, increase their brand visibility and secure media coverage. The team has worked with start-ups, fast-tracks, as well as established FTSE and international businesses.
In addition to Adia PR, Alison also teaches small business owners how to create their own PR like a professional via her online programme "How to do your own PR". There is no doubt that PR is the most effective "free" way of launching and growing your business. If you’re a small business, with limited resources, but the time to take action, Alison will show you step by step what to do to generate successful media coverage and manage your reputation in the process.
Alison was awarded Highly Commended Director of the Year for Small Business (up to £10m) at the Institute of Directors East of England Awards. Before starting her entrepreneurial journey, Alison previously worked for the European Commission in Brussels, Accenture in London and a property firm in New York. Her first business was in the food industry - importing Italian artisan food products into the UK and retailing via an ecommerce site and also supplying some of the top foodhalls (Selfridges, Fortnum&Mason, Harrods) and restaurants across the country.