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Do-It-Yourself PR: 6 Helpful Tips for Small Businesses
By Rich Kahn, eZanga.com
If you’re a small business, doing your own PR is all about crafting pitches and getting them to the right people. Creating buzz in your industry involves being authentic to yourself and your business. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, doing PR yourself can be a great money-saving option for your small business.
1. Tell Your Brand's Story
Storytelling can help transform your brand’s identity and presence, and create trust from consumers or others in the industry. Some of the best stories come from you and your loyal customers. You can tell the story of how your brand came to be, and customers can tell the stories of their experiences with your business.
Think of your brand as a human persona. The more interesting and genuine its personality is, the more trust others will feel toward it. Be sure to tell others why your business exists, its ethics, how the brand evolved, or anything else that will help people see the full picture of your business. Don’t be afraid to encourage your customers to tell their stories of how your business benefited them. A compelling story will give the audience a way to emotionally connect with who you are and ultimately set the tone for the entire company.
2. Keep up With the Industry
Read a lot, and read often to make sure you’re staying informed with everything related to your industry.
Set up Google Alerts and Twitter Mentions. Find and follow the top industry influencers, and read up on what your competitors are doing. You can use sites like IFTTT to collect articles containing relevant keywords from all over the internet, and have new content delivered right to your inbox.
You need to be as knowledgeable as possible in your industry. You never know when the spotlight might be on you. And that knowledge might just impress the right person, leading to your next big break.
3. Network With the Top Influencers
If you’re actively keeping up with the top industry reporters and influencers, the second step is to then try and network with them. If you take notes on what those writers typically focus on, you’ll have an abundance of knowledge when you finally reach out to them to build a relationship.
Try creating a list of the blogs or news sites these top influencers write for and keep track of what each author is writing. Then, find where you can comment and engage with them, whether it be through a blog post or a Twitter chat.
Networking with influencers and others is a great way to build a name for yourself and your brand within the industry, but make sure the comments aren’t forced or self-promotional. Remember: do-it-yourself PR is all about being authentic and trustworthy.
4. Do Your Research and Remain Objective
This relates to keeping up with the industry. You need to make sure you have something to contribute to the conversation or the industry, whether it be information in the form of an article or a product or service that is particularly helpful.
It’s important to do enough prep work before making any pitches. Study the outlets you’ve chosen to pitch to, and look to see if there is a specific person at an outlet you think would respond well to what you’re offering. Once again, learn as much as you can before jumping forward.
5. Perfect Before Pitching
Putting your name out there before your product or service is ready can lead to negative customer reviews, and that can be a death sentence for a small business or startup company. Plus, a good product or high quality service is more likely to get better press once the word is actually out.
Focus on perfecting your product or service before reaching out to get press. Don’t be afraid to first get the opinion of a small group of trusted people who can provide you with feedback to help you improve upon your product or the quality of your service.
6. Craft Creative and Compelling Pitches
When you’re pitching your brand or product, you need to make sure you remain as objective as possible. Even though you might think everything your business does or provides is notably the best, not everyone will agree.
Remember that a lot of top industry influencers are constantly bombarded with pitches, so yours needs to be creative and, most importantly, personal. This circles back to the first tip: tell your brand’s story. Keep it short and sweet, and make sure if you’re reaching out to anyone over email, your subject line is attention-grabbing and won’t be mistaken for spam.
There may be a point where a larger PR company could help your company reach new heights. But, for small businesses, the right attitude and drive for success makes doing PR yourself a completely plausible option.
Rich Kahn is the CEO of eZanga.com and has been recognized as a leader in the online advertising industry since 1993. Rich started eZanga.com, a digital marketing firm specializing in pay per click and pay per call advertising, in 2003 with his wife, Beth. Follow him on Twitter at @richkahn.
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