Public relations expert Michele Bayliss shares her tricks of the trade with ten startup PR tips to get your business heard and noticed by journalists in 2018.
In a world of 24/7 communication, the battle to win the attention of customers has never been fiercer – and there are so many platforms available on which to tell your story and air your views to reach your audiences: your customers and potential customers, your peers and your competitors, as well as opinion formers and influencers such as the media.
Credibility is key to building your business and earning the trust of your audiences. This is when PR can make a real impact and work to create awareness and enthusiasm for your business offer.
If you can afford it, hire an independent PR consultant or a small agency but, if you have the time to invest in applying your own skills, here are ten top startup PR tips for building your profile to get you started.
Know your market
Successful PR is all about reaching the right audience with the right message. If you fail to understand your target audience and the publications and press that they read, the rest of your PR plans will be fruitless.
The message and the medium have to be appropriate for your customers. There is no point in targeting The Daily Telegraph if your target audience is more likely to be reading Practical Photography magazine.
Ensure your product or service is ready for consumption
PR drives customer demand but if the product or service is not available when the press coverage appears, you will lose both sales and credibility. Your product or service must work, be something that people want and must be available when needed.
Get your targeting right
When defining your target audience, you should know what they read, what radio programmes they listen to, what TV programmes they watch and which websites they visit.
Learn about the media outlets you are targeting, understand the type of story that will encourage the media to give you coverage and will influence their audience – your customers.
Crystallise your story
Every entrepreneur I meet believes that their business is the most exciting one around because they live and breathe it. But when thinking about what interests the press it is important to stand back and think about what sets your business apart from the competition.
You are not necessarily selling your vision, values and ten-year plan. Hone your message and make sure it’s concise, clear and brief. If you cannot sum up your message in a few sentences, a journalist won’t read it, nor will the readers.
Tailor your story
To secure media coverage, your story must be topical and relevant to current events. Your goal is to persuade journalists that your story is newsworthy because if they think you have something worth writing about, your customers will want to read it. The finished article may be a more cost-effective way of raising your profile and credibility than the equivalent advertising space.
Target local, national and industry/trade publications as appropriate. Your product or service may be one story but your small business could be another. As a small business owner, you could comment on how Budget news, tax issues or recent research affects your journalist’s audience.
Build your relationship with the media
How you interact with your target press is very important. These relationships take time to develop and it is a long-term investment – but don’t waste their time. Your media contacts are very busy people with deadlines to meet.
Ensure that you have a good story to tell them before you get in touch. The most valuable time you can spend on PR is reading the publications on your hit list.
Write an article
Provide a story for your local newspaper or trade publication on a subject that is relevant to your business.
Write your synopsis first and send it to the editor for consideration. The media like to receive articles that talk about the subjects in which they and their audience are interested. Write about those subjects but do not use this as an opportunity to advertise your company overtly.
The power of social media cannot be under-estimated and it is a key part of the PR toolkit nowadays. But it is just one more way to communicate with your audience.
Tweeting, blogging and posting on LinkedIn will reach your audiences quickly but it is important to remember that the quality of the message is key.
Join relevant business groups. Offer to give talks about your profession. Attend industry trade shows and conferences. Get to know people and you will get known.
Tenacity is the single most important factor when it comes to making your PR campaign a success. If you have a good plan and devote enough time to it, with or without the help of a PR professional, you will see a great deal of positive publicity for your business. You will raise your profile and reap the rewards as your business builds.
But remember, PR cannot be turned on and off like a tap – it’s all about gathering pace and keeping momentum. Be consistent, be vocal and be prolific. If your customers and potential customers are constantly reading about you in the press they won’t forget about you.
Michele Bayliss has been an independent PR consultant for over 20 years, specialising in devising and implementing PR campaigns for small businesses
For a few more startup PR tips, take a look at these three cost-effective marketing methods giving small brands an edge
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