Starting on new marketing efforts for your business is always daunting, especially when you have little or no prior experience with PR, blogging, influencer outreach, or any other area of marketing. But you should never let the worry of trying something new stop you from moving your business forward. It’s preparation and planning that can make all the difference when it comes to beginning a DIY PR campaign and in this blog post we’ll guide you through the first steps to take, even if you’ve never done PR before!
I’m New to PR… What is PR Anyway?
Many business owners think that they know what PR is, but it can encompass much more than they might have realised. The aim of traditional public relations is to create a media buzz around your business or products, by getting them featured in local or national newspapers and magazines. This is done through storytelling, and in the end is more about what someone (such as a journalist) says about your business than about what you say about your business. Think of this famous quote from Jean-Louis Gassée, the found of BeOS: ‘Advertising is saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you’re good’.
Digital PR is becoming more and more important. This involves seeking coverage from online publications and blogs, but can also involve SEO, social media and reaching out to influencers.
A PR campaign can cost much much less than advertising but, as a PR beginner, it is best to start simply; by reaching out to print and online publications in the hope of gaining mentions in articles and features.
Define Your Objectives for your DIY PR Campaigns
Top of your agenda before you start embarking on DIY PR should be to define your objectives so that you can ensure you’re heading down the right path with your efforts. Being featured in a newspaper or on a blog can be great for brand awareness, but is there anything else you want to achieve, such as driving more sales? If you can make your objectives or goals measurable, such as getting more hits on your website, you’ll be able to track your progress.
Preparation is key in launching a brand new PR effort and it’s something that you’ll thank yourself for further down the line. As a PR beginner, it’s important to spend time researching and readying yourself and your business, otherwise you may find that you’re spending time on fruitless tasks.
Research and Create a Contacts List
Research is incredibly important for a business that is new to PR as you’ll want to make sure you’re targeting the right publications and journalists, so this step shouldn’t be rushed.
When researching for your first public relations efforts, you’ll want to find out:
– What kinds of publications feature products similar to yours
– Which writer or journalist usually writes for the section where your products would be the best fit
– What are the contact details (full name and email address) of this person
– If your competitors have had any recent PR success and where were they featured
For a small business, it can be useful to begin with targeting smaller online publications before moving onto larger online sites, newspapers and magazines, once you have perfected your pitch.
Keep all of the information you have found in a spreadsheet – this is your contacts list and it’s what you’ll use when you begin sending email pitches about your business.
Create a Press Kit or Press Office
It can be really handy to have a press kit or an online press office when you’re entering the world of DIY PR. A folder or web page that contains all of the most important information a journalist may need when writing about your business can be invaluable as it makes things much quicker and easier.
Your press kit should include:
– A short description of your company
– Your press releases
– High resolution product photos, including a few ‘cut out’ images on a white background
– Key contact details, including social media links
Press Releases and Pitches
One of our biggest tips is to spend some time brainstorming before you write a press release or pitch. As we mentioned earlier, PR is about storytelling and the key to great PR is to make sure that you have a story to tell!
In order to do this, try to answer the question ‘why is my brand interesting and relevant?’. To answer this you could think about popular news topics, a unique new product you’ve just launched or even the time of year if a gifting occasion is coming up (but remember that large publications usually work 3 -4 months in advance). It’s your best answer to this question that you’ll use as a basis for your press release.
Press releases can be really useful tools when trying to gain press coverage because they can help you present details of your brand or products in a concise and useful way. Our blog post on our 10 best tips for writing a killer press release will give you a head start if you’ve never written a release before.
Equally, you’ll want to spend time creating the perfect pitch – this is the first thing a journalist, writer or blogger will read when you send them an email so don’t rush through this. Ensure it’s short (a maximum of two paragraphs) and summarises your ideas of why your brand or products are interesting and relevant to the media outlet. Keep it friendly but polite and ensure you have it checked over by at least one other person before you’re ready to begin pressing send.
Look Out for Blogger and Journalist Requests
An easy way to gain PR traction for your products as a beginner is to respond to relevant requests from bloggers and journalists. Whether this is on social media or a PR platform, it can be a great way to achieve coverage for your brand, especially in local newspapers and smaller publications. Journalists can often send out requests for products and information that they need at short notice, making this a great opportunity to get last minute seasonal or trend-led coverage.
Have you already started a PR campaign for your brand or are you thinking of trying your hand at PR as a newbie? Let us know if you have any tips you can share. You can also get started with PR for your business with a free two week trial of Press Loft’s PR platform! Click here to join us and access over 15000 worldwide journalists from top publications.