Five tips to get you started on your PR journey

Laptop, pen and notepad on desk, working from home, PR

When it comes to raising your profile, being seen as a credible authority and being more visible, social media is the obvious choice for many as it’s something we understand and feel comfortable with.

However, with the constant battle against algorithms, as well as the noise of everyone else on the platform, it can be hard to achieve the results desired, in terms of sharing your message, building trust with your audience and making sales.

However, there is another way to achieve all of the above outside of social media – being featured in the press.

When it comes to Public Relations, many business owners shy away from adding it to their communications strategy for many different reasons. These include; believing that their brand isn’t big enough or established enough to be featured in the press, that they don’t have anything interesting or exciting enough to say, or that they’re not doing anything different to any other brand in their space.

There’s also the belief that PR is expensive, that it’s time consuming and that it doesn’t work. And while it can be expensive if you hire a PR agency, it doesn’t have to be time consuming, but you do need to appreciate that it will take time because one of the biggest parts of PR is building trust and relationships with journalists.

As a PR Strategist and Brand Storyteller for over 18 years, I want to share my top five tips to help you to get started on your PR journey, whether you’ve been in business for five-minutes or five decades.

Tip #1: Focus on why

Before you even start thinking about being featured in the press, I want you to ask yourself why you want to be featured. Why do you want to share your message and why do people need to hear it?

Once you get intentional on why you want to be featured in the press you can focus on the opportunities that will make a difference to your business. Having your name mentioned in an article is not going to deliver the same results as an interview with you, or a feature that’s littered with quotes from you as the expert.

As the saying goes ‘where focus goes, energy flows’.

Tip #2: Where do you need to be seen and heard?

This is one of the biggest mistakes that business owners make, they focus on where they want to be seen, not necessarily on where their ideal customers and clients are hanging out.

As a business owner you need to be positioned in front of your customers and clients so that they get to know you and learn what you do before choosing to work with you or buy from you. So, you need to be positioned in the media outlets they’re consuming. If they’re listening to podcasts then you need to focus on getting on those podcasts. If they’re reading content from lifestyle magazines, whether online or on print, then you need to be featured in those publications.

If you’re not sure what your ideal customers and clients are reading, watching or listening to, use your social media platforms and your email list to ask questions. Your audience will love to interact with you and it gives you an opportunity to get to know them better too, so integrate social media into your PR outreach as much as possible. It’ll make your life easier and will remove a lot of the guesswork out of where you need to be featured.

Tip #3: Do your research

Once you know where your ideal customers and clients are hanging out, the next thing you need to do is research those media outlets. Binge watch or listen to their content, devour the pages of a magazine, or actually read content online rather than scrolling through it. Be intentional.

While you’re doing that, I want you to answer these questions:

  1. What topics are they covering?
  2. Are they interviewing experts, are they including expert comments in their article, are they featuring products, are they demonstrating how to do something, are they sharing top tips, if so, what information are they sharing?
  3. Do they already feature your area of expertise?
  4. Who is responsible for creating that specific content?

So many clues are already under your nose, but you’re so used to consuming content that you’re not looking at how you can create content that media outlets and their audience will love.

By doing your research, you’re going to find out so much about that media outlet, such as where you fit in, the type of content their audience loves to binge on and who is creating this content.

From here, you can start to build up a bank of ideas that you can pitch to the journalists featuring this content.

Tip #4: Be personable

Pitching ideas to a journalist can feel scary or push you out of your comfort zone, but it’s the only way you can put yourself on the map and start to build a relationship with them. You can breathe a huge sigh of relief when you hear that they’re not going to judge you on your email, they’re far too busy to do that, but it is important for you to be personable and approachable and focus on the details.

Journalists are busy. They can receive between 100-200 emails per day, so it’s best to send a pitch that’s succinct and to the point and delivers the top line information that they’re going to need to make a decision on whether or not to feature your idea.

Always refer to the journalist by their name and ensure that you spell it correctly. These small details make a huge difference. I’d also recommend referencing something about the journalist that you’ve taken the time to find out. It could be that you mention a previous article of theirs that you’ve read, or perhaps you enjoyed their latest post on Instagram. Going above and beyond to show that you care about the journalist as a human being will stand you in good stead for the future. Even if they don’t feature you this time round, you will become memorable.

Tip #5: Give it time

Emailing a journalist is completely different to any other email you’ll ever send because you’ll rarely hear back from them, not in response to your first email anyway. As I mentioned above, journalists receive so many emails everyday that they don’t physically have the time to read every single one. They’re being paid to create content, not sit in their inbox all day. If you haven’t heard back after four to five days, send a follow up email with an additional nugget of information that will remind them of your original pitch.

If you still don’t hear back, don’t assume that it was a terrible pitch or that they’re not interested, it may not be a priority for them right now. Keep pitching ideas based on your research and it will happen when it’s supposed to.

Laura PerkesAbout the author

Laura Perkes is a PR Strategist, Brand Storyteller and the founder of PR with Perkes. She’s also the author of the bestselling book, How To Get PR. Laura and her team work with female-founded businesses that are ready to reach the next level in their business by tapping into the power and potency of PR.

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