How to do your own PR: Getting started
Startup PR founder Ella Gascoigne shares her tips on how to secure valuable media coverage when you're starting out
One of the biggest challenges you face when you launch a new start-up is getting publicity for your business. How do you get the media to write about you? The fact that you’ve launched a business is not necessarily ‘news’, so you need to think outside the box to get the publicity you need.
Remember that journalists get hundreds, if not thousands, of pitches every week. So it’s not a case of thinking about how publications can help you promote your business, but rather how you can help them and their readers.
Consider your PR opportunities:
Think about what opportunities are available to you. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket; instead, plan a launch campaign that encompasses several approaches to maximise your publicity:
Write a punchy press release about your business, preferably no longer than one page. [Here's our guide on how to write a killer press release].
Key things to include are a catchy title, a brief intro to the business and why it’s unique, details of the founder of the business and contact details. If you can link your release to something happening in the news, do it (so long as it’s not too tenuous). And if you really don’t like writing, then get an agency to write your release/profile and do the rest yourself.
Offer journalists samples of your product so that they can do reviews. There are key times to offer these samples, such as the gift round-ups (Mothers’ Day; Valentine’s Day; Fathers’ Day; Christmas).
Just remember these times are extremely competitive so you will need to have a very relevant and unique product to get into the national round-ups. Before you talk to the media you will also need high quality images of your products. And don’t forget to take into account the lead times of the publications you’re targeting (how long the publications will need to prepare their content before it is published).
Don’t forget your local and regional magazines, newspapers, websites and radio. These are often more supportive of local businesses, and therefore easier to get publicity in.
What’s more, the nationals may spot your story in the regional newspapers and, if they like it, they may want to cover it too. When targeting local media, you may want to tweak your release to give it a local angle.
Competitions and reader offers
Offer your product as a competition prize or at a reduced rate for the publication. At the very least you will get a description and image of your product. Where possible, ask the publication to include a link to where your product is sold.
If you have a Facebook account, part of the competition could be to ‘like’ your business’ Facebook page first. And it’s always worth asking if you can use the data captured after the competition to send out a reader offer too.
What is interesting about you and what makes you stand out as a business owner? Are you a single mum; did you start up after facing challenges in your life? Don’t be afraid to put some personal information in your release – find what sells and as long as you are comfortable with it, work it!
This is one of the biggest opportunities for new business owners, particularly if you offer a service such as accountancy, marketing, or legal advice. Publications are always on the look-out for good, relevant content. So identify your key publications (online and print) and offer them advice articles on your specialist subject, positioning yourself as an expert.
For example, if you’re an accountant, you could offer an article explaining new tax legislation, or if your business is in the marketing field, you could offer tips on how to get the most out of social media. Always keep the publication’s audience in mind and think about what the most relevant and useful topics for them would be.
In return for an objective and useful article, websites and magazines will provide a plug for your business or product.
Keep your eye on what is happening in the news and if you see something that you have experience or expertise in, send an email to relevant journalists and explain what your view is, why you are qualified to comment and offer yourself for interview or to provide a quote. In return for your comment, ask to be referred to as founder of…
Are you having a launch party? Don’t forget to invite your key journalists along and prepare a release/press pack to give them at the event.
I think Twitter is one of THE best ways for any business on a budget to start getting word out about their launch. Here are a couple of pointers:
- Tweet about your business – Run competitions where people enter by following you and re-tweeting details of the competition. – Follow and connect with journalists on Twitter – Engage with relevant organisations, so if you are promoting a book on raising your children, then connect with mothers’ groups and parenting organisations. Remember: don’t just talk about your business, but answer questions, offer help, and support other companies. – @TheoPaphitis runs Small Business Sunday (#sbs) on a Sunday night. So start following him and tweet him about your business between 7-9pm, using the hashtag #sbs. He will re-tweet the best ones – @Jacqueline_Gold, the CEO of Anne Summers, does a similar thing with #WOW awards. Tweet about your business using the hashtag and she will re-tweet the ones she likes the best.
Ella Gascoigne is the founder of Startup PR, an award-winning PR agency which recently launched Toolbox PR , an affordable package that gives start-ups the tools they need to do their own PR.