Securing mainstream media coverage helps you build credibility and influence and win new business. But if you haven’t had much experience with the media, it may feel like just another overwhelming task on your to-do list.
Yet PR doesn’t have to be difficult -- or expensive. And you certainly don’t need to spend thousands on PR firms. In fact, if you’re doing it right, getting coverage in magazines and newspapers and on radio and TV can be as easy as firing off an email or making a quick phone call.
Here are the five most common excuses I hear entrepreneurs making for not doing PR (and why you need to stop making them):
1. ‘I don’t have the budget right now.’
Many entrepreneurs I meet say they can’t do PR because they don’t have the budget to hire an expert. But you don’t need a PR firm -- or a specialist's skills -- to get media coverage. You don’t even need a press kit or press release.
Anyone with a great idea and a bit of common sense can pitch a story into the media. In fact, most journalists I know would rather deal directly with a business owner than a PR company because this person will know the business better and answer questions more quickly and accurately.
2. ‘I don’t have time.’
The idea of having to write press releases or create press kits puts many entrepreneurs off doing PR. But here’s the thing: You don’t have to.
If you’ve got a great idea for a story, a simple email with a catchy subject header is enough to get a journalist’s attention. He or she can always follow up with questions if that's needed.
If you’re going to invest time on anything, spend it on researching the publications and programs you’re pitching to. The more you understand the kind of content they generally run -- and their audience -- the better your chances of success.
3. ‘I don’t trust journalists.’
I hear some entrepreneurs say they don’t want to do PR because they’ve had a "bad experience" with a journalist. Often, these are minor things -- like misspelled names and places or small factual errors -- that can easily be rectified. But because it’s human nature to dwell on a single negative experience, even when that experience is outweighed by positives, these owners can’t move past it.
Contrary to popular belief, journalists aren’t "out to get you" -- they just want great stories. But they’re only human and, like all of us, sometimes they make mistakes, which they are accountable for.
If you’ve had a bad experience with the media, ask yourself this: Is it worth missing out on the opportunity to build your credibility and influence on the basis of one bad experience?
4. ‘I don’t have a story yet.’
So many entrepreneurs I speak to are putting off PR until their "next" product launch, event or book (usually the one they haven’t written yet), even though they already have stories, experiences and opinions they could be sharing in the media right now.
Look at it this way: If you’re out there pitching ideas and building relationships with journalists now, you’ll have a much better chance of getting coverage when you do have your next big launch.
5. ‘I don’t need PR.’
Some entrepreneurs tell me they don’t need PR because they have a big social media following, a large email list or a killer marketing strategy. But while these advantages might help you win new business, they won’t help you build the credibility you can get from being featured in the mainstream media.
Being able to tell people you’ve been featured in a well-respected title or at a prestigious program doesn’t just lead to new business, it can also help you build the kind of profile that leads to lucrative speaking gigs, book deals and other career-boosting opportunities.
So, get out there and get some good PR. What are you waiting for?
Related: 5 Tips for Getting on TV