If you’re the owner of a small biz, you probably do it all: You’re the salesperson, head of HR, bookkeeper, office manager, maybe even the janitor.
Adding “public relations extraordinaire” to that always-expanding list is probably something you’d rather not do, even though you know that good PR can take your business to the next level.
While you can’t magically add more hours to each day, you can prioritize some elements of a public relations plan. If you barely have time to brush your teeth these days, you might be relieved to know that the path toward getting positive press coverage doesn’t require a million steps – or a million hours.
If you’re pressed for time and can only dedicate so much to PR, here are three essentials you want to focus on:
Identify your media targets
This will be the most time-consuming of your public relations plan, but if you don’t have an up-to-date list of the people you want and should reach out to, everything else that follows is a blind shot in the dark.
Take a day (it might have to be the weekend; sorry!) to research the newspapers, magazines, TV news stations, websites and blogs that you want to be featured in. Once you have that list, identify the specific writers and reporters who cover your industry (or, if it’s local news, those who cover your city or neighborhood). Once you have that list, find their contact information. Most media outlets list contact information online, and many journalists publish their email addresses and/or social media handles in the byline of their stories.
Putting together this list will require some heavy-duty online sleuthing, and know that people and contacts will inevitably change as time goes on. But armed with this list, you now know exactly who to connect with to get your company in the news.
Read the news
There are two main ways to get press coverage: Align yourself with something that’s already being talked about, or create the news yourself.
Piggybacking is by far the less time-consuming option … but before you hop on, you need to know what’s happening out there in the world, first. Make it a habit to spend 15 or 30 minutes every day to read up or tune into your local and national headlines. If the housing report that was just released today shows home prices are trending up and you’re a real estate agent, that’s a great reason to pitch your expertise and perspective on the trend to the press. (Do it pronto, while the topic’s still hot.) If a beloved local restaurant suffered roofing damage from last night’s storm and you happen to own a construction business, maybe offer a helping hand and inform your local media outlets. (Hint: They love “feel good” stories.)
And, because you already have a list of media targets, reaching out to press won’t take a ton of time.
Pitch, don’t send press releases
If you’re short on time, consider forgoing the traditional press release as part of your public relations plan and send out a quick pitch instead.
What’s the difference? A press release is longer, more formal and usually follows a specific format. (Here’s a press release template from WikiHow.) A pitch is much shorter, usually no more than a couple of concise paragraphs. A press release pretty much tells the whole story in one official document, while a pitch is an email meant to provide just the most important and pertinent facts, with the expectation that the journalist will reply if he or she is interested in learning more.
A well-crafted, brief email pitch will do the job just as well as a press release, especially if you’re a small business. After all, you’re an uber busy person and so are journalists. If you’ve got an enticing story angle that hooks the writer or reporter in the shortest amount of time, it’s a win-win for both. Check out our blog post, “How to Write a Great PR Pitch and Get the Media’s Attention,” for tips on making your email pitch-perfect.
Like anything else, the more time you put into your public relations plan, the more results you’ll likely get. But tackle these essentials, and you should be well on your way to nailing positive press coverage for you and your company.
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