When I quit my career as a magazine editor to start my own business, the one thing that became very easy for me was getting press. This is because, after years of working as an editor, I understand how editors think and how to give them simple, well-packaged stories.
The more I got involved with other entrepreneurs, the more advice I found myself giving on how to progress in their field- from choosing the best platform to share their story or product to making contact with the right editor. In other words, I was instructing business people how to gain terrific press.
Follow these six steps for a successful do-it-yourself public relations campaign.
Step 1: When it comes to branding, focus on selling ONE part of what you’re offering.
First and foremost, are you selling a product or expertise? You could have both (for example, I’m primarily selling my business as a product, but I also offer my PR knowledge as expertise). Even if you sell multiple things usually, for this specific activity—and every PR outreach going forward—just focus on one.
Before we move on, take an inventory of what you have going on. As you go through the next five steps, keep in mind that some parts of your brand are more noteworthy or fit better into certain publications than others. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry–you can choose another topic from your list and start the plan anew.
Step 2: Focus on Your Ideal Client
You can have several audiences, but you will target your PR efforts differently for each one. To stay organized, put them into different lists (this is what Google spreadsheets are ideal for). When you’re planning your PR strategy, it’s important to keep your target audience in mind. Who do you want to reach with your message? And why is that important to you and your business?
An example: Wedding magazines are the best way to reach engaged couples who are planning their wedding. Our goal is to get tech press coverage in order to reach potential investors who read blogs like TechCrunch.If we want partnerships and credibility, then we’ll target mainstream media outlets like The New York Times. However, if our goal is to increase web traffic, then we’ll focus on lifestyle blogs and Instagram/Pinterest placement. Your target audience changes depending on your current goals.
Step 3: Choose Three Stores That Would Make You Super Excited
With this task, have some fun (like going to a bookstore or newsstand, or playing online!), but make sure your list is based on reality too. This way, it’ll be more accurate according to the stage you’re at and considering how “new” your product or expertise appears. Instead of thinking inside the box by choosing popular and well-known outlets, try to find ones that have a good relationship with your target audience. Even if it’s not a household name, as long as your target audience likes it, that’s all that matters.
For example, it was excellent to have my business book featured in publications like Food & Wine. However, the pieces that were published in business-centric outlets like Harvard Business Review and Fast Company resulted in more traction. Furthermore, consider other avenues such as radio, television, websites, newspapers, magazines, blogs, social media platforms, and podcasts. Also, try thinking both local and national if you want to expand your options.
Step 4: Analyze (and Enjoy) Your Target Outlets
Dedicate some time to choosing one outlet from your list and thoroughly consume their content. This is an opportunity for you to expand your enjoyment by familiarizing yourself with material created for people like you. As a bonus, while enjoying the content ask yourself:
a) To maximize your product/expertise, look for opportunities to be featured in pieces, sections, and columns.
b) Who is the author or producer of this? By searching Google or LinkedIn, you can often tell if they are a staff writer (or editor) or freelance. No byline? Check the masthead to see who edits that type of story. (Mastheads are often found at the front of print publications or in a “bio” section on websites.) For example, even though their names might not be on the content itself, there’s usually a food editor and an associate food editor who prepare all the food pages. Tip: Depending on what you’re selling, you should focus your efforts on targeting either the editor or the writer. Editors typically handle products, while freelance writers will pitch big feature stories or utilize expert quotes.
c) If you come across someone whose work reflects what you’re trying to sell, take a look at their other pieces and make note of what elements you enjoy.
d) Once you have located the perfect position and candidate, move on to Step 5.
Step 5: Write a “Love” Email to That Person
a) First, mention something you love about their work, whether it’s a recent article, the style of interviewing they do, or even just some copy that made you laugh.
b) Give a one-sentence overview of you and your company.
c) If you and your product are on the same level as the editor or outlet you’re pitching to, offer to take them out for a quick lunch near their office, drop by with coffee, or have a chat at their desk. Give a few specific date and time options about three weeks out. (Then share your product and ideas in person.)
d) If you’re attempting to contact a more difficult-to-reach outlet, suggest two to three targeted story ideas, OR state that you’re sending them the product to try. The purpose of this is to give your audience something sticky, valuable, and relevant, be it content or a product.
Step 6: Follow Up, Repeat, and Track!
You can use this process for as many concepts, target audiences, and outlets as you need. Depending on my current goals, I focus on one idea or audience at a time. Keep a running tally of your follow-ups, product send-outs, and meetings by maintaining a spreadsheet. And don’t forget to log your successes for future reference!
This article was published on DailyWorth.