Public relations isn’t for the easily discouraged. It takes thick skin and a willingness to fail repeatedly. And if you’re a small business who doesn’t have the resources to hire a PR agency or an in-house specialist, it can seem downright impossible. For these reasons, most companies don’t even try.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a go. PR has numerous benefits for small businesses, from brand awareness to increased revenue. So if you’re feeling plucky, there are ways you can get your company mentioned in stories without costing you a lot of time or money.
1) Templatize pitch emails to reporters
I wouldn’t ever recommend canvassing reporters with the same copied and pasted email. That would be a waste of time, and reporters can sniff out impersonalization a mile away. But making a template using the pieces of your pitch that would be relevant to all is a useful starting point, and you can customize from there. Maybe it’s the sentences in your pitch that discuss what’s new about product, or how you explain your company’s philosophy. Learn about who you’re pitching and make your pitching personal, but save yourself some time by creating a template.
2) Include customers in your PR efforts
Most bloggers and reporters aren’t looking for companies to talk about; they’re looking for stories to tell. And, I’m sorry to say, your story might not be the thing that interests them. But what about your customers? That can be an entirely different story. Think about what’s more interesting between the two: what your company does; or how a particular customer’s life has been transformed after using your service. Find case studies and advocates in your customer base and use them for PR.
3) Stay alert with monitoring services
I use free alert services for everything. Any news about trending topics, my company JotForm, me (or people with my name), our competitors, my company’s CEO, and anything related to our industry gets sent to my inbox every day through Google Alerts and TalkWalker alerts. Both are free, and they allow me to monitor the landscape and make educated PR decisions. If your small business is interested in public relations, these are invaluable tools.
4) Use HARO for quick hits
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a free service that reporters use to find expert sources while writing on a short deadline. Sign up and you’ll get a series of emails every day with requests to speak to authorities on various topics, and some of them might just be you. You’ll have to comb through to see if there are good fits — oftentimes there aren’t — but sometimes you find a perfect match. So unless you regularly have reporters asking for your opinion, it’s worth a try.
5) Ride the coattails of national stories
If you’re looking for it, there’s usually a way for your company to fit into a bigger story. Do you run an immigration legal practice? Then prepare a statement about national immigration reform and send it to reporters covering recent news. Own a manufacturing plant? Offer your opinions to reporters covering the state of American manufacturing in 2017. There’s always a national trend. So offer up your business as a part of the conversation, especially if you have a unique perspective.
Even with all of this, PR still takes time and nuance. But hours will be saved if you use a little technology and common sense to help get your company in the press.