This article was written by Meghan Ely, the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.
No matter how long you’ve been in business or which industry you call home, public relations is one of those topics that can spark intimidation in even the most well-seasoned entrepreneurs. You may think the media is elusive or even mysterious, and in some ways, it can be. However, the fact of the matter is that the juice is worth the squeeze when prospective clients can see that you have some press wins attached to your name. So, where do you get started, and what does the journey to establishing a strong media presence look like?
Why PR matters for small businesses
Put your self in the shoes of a potential client. You’re shopping around, and you come across two businesses that you’re researching. One has a couple of Google reviews, maybe posts sporadically on social media, and a website without much proof of their work. The other (ideally, you!) has a strong social media presence, features in top publications, awards they’ve won listed on their website, and a guest episode on a podcast that you frequent. With that in mind, there’s an obvious choice for where you’d invest your money.
Let’s talk goals
First things first, what are you hoping to get out of your PR strategy? Maybe you’re looking to book more clients, or maybe you’re looking to level up and appeal to a particular niche of potential customers. PR can not only position you as a thought leader, but it can solidify your reputation within your industry as a whole.
The reason I want to stress the importance of your goals is because the mindset of “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t always land, despite our best efforts. And what I mean by that is, we would all love to think that all we need to do is market our businesses on the channels we own, but in reality, we need to do that and build our reputation via other brands too. That means investing your time in press features and podcast pitching may be more worth your while to spread the word about your business than just focusing on your website, your Instagram, etc. Because your time is important, and you need to allocate your resources where the ROI is best.
Refine your media planning
Many small businesses automatically dismiss local media and concentrate on the top dogs in national media (think Vogue or NY Times). And while that’s certainly a great idea to have lofty goals to aim for, ask yourself why you want those press features. If it’s a matter of bragging rights, but if your target audience likely doesn’t read Vogue, maybe local media should be more of a priority to gain traction and word-of-mouth.
From there, it’s time to create your PR strategy. Look at your media list (or create one if you need one) and make sure the contacts on it align with your goals—so make sure that you’re detailed in your research. If you’re looking to connect with a writer from an outlet, take a look at whether or not they’ve been active, what their beat is (area of expertise or topic that they write about), and do some digging on how to best get in touch with them. Similarly, these factors all apply to pitching yourself to podcasts and ensuring you (and your topic) are a good fit. These nuances are going to be crucial in establishing a strong media relationship to get you on the right track.
Pro tip: Simplify your research with a spreadsheet! Create sections to drop in their name, email, outlet, email pitch, pitch date, and any notes on their activity. This will be much easier to navigate and update as your media relationships evolve.
Automate your PR where you can
All of this research seems like a ton of work in the beginning, but once you’ve ironed out the basics and it’s time to send out your pitch, there are plenty of things that you can automate to make it easier for future-you. Using as many templates as possible can help streamline the process without being impersonal.
When it comes to podcast pitching, for example, there’s a quick list of things to expect to send:
- Website and social media links
- A hi-res headshot for promotional purposes
- A hi-res logo
- A B2C or B2B bio, depending on the audience of the podcast
- Potential talking points for your accepted topic
Having these all in your Enji Media Kit is much easier than sitting down to compile each time you get booked. Rather than spending hours at your computer, you can automate your pitching strategy easily to only spend a fraction of that sending out your pitches.
Post about your PR wins!
Don’t be shy when you finally get a PR win for your small business under your belt—this is what you’ve been working so hard for! Schedule a social media post to share the news with your followers, add the press to your website (a designated press page or a logo), include it in your next email newsletter, and celebrate yourself accordingly.
If you’re posting on Instagram, for instance, make sure that you tag the outlet, podcast, or what-have-you and show your gratitude. Sending a thoughtful thank-you to the host or writer that helped get you published can also go a long way—it shows them that you’re excited about your feature and can build a good rapport with them for future work.
Additional places you can consider sharing your PR wins are:
- On your Facebook business page
- On Linkedin (your business page and/or personal page)
- On your Google Business page
Again, the overwhelm of not knowing where to start with PR may be a deterrent at first, but when you outline your goals and create an action plan to tackle them, it becomes routine and manageable in your workflow. Once you figure out how to grab the attention of your target audience, you’re well on your way to becoming a media pro!