6 Secrets to More PR in Less Than an Hour a Day
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How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time: We who are raising startups, not pachyderms, know that the keys to success are persistence and consistency. Yet too many owners become frustrated because their businesses aren't winning the press and social media mentions they deserve.
What to do? Here are six practical ways to take your public relations to the next level in less than an hour a day.
1. Gather testimonials.
Every marketer knows that testimonials can benefit marketing campaigns. But did you know that they can also help boost the impact and odds of success for your public relations outreach? Think about the typical stories you read in the media that profile a company. With few exceptions, they include quotes from customers. The reason is obvious: Without testimonials, it's just your word.
Editors and readers know that talk is cheap. They know that having others vouch for you adds credibility. And, for your part, gathering testimonials won't be hard, but it will require persistence. Make a point for your sales or service team to have a system in place to gather testimonials. It can be something as simple as a shared Google Doc. Often, it's as easy as just asking your customers. If many or all of them aren't willing, that may be indicative of a problem with satisfaction. Time required: 10 minutes a day.
2. Average a press release a month.
No, press releases don't equal media coverage. And, yes, reporters still rely on press releases. No, press releases are not dead. But, yes, using press releases as an SEO strategy is a dead strategy.
Truth is, a press release is just a tool. It isn't an end, it is a means to an end. But, like any tool, in the right hands it can do a lot. Press releases still help inform the media about important updates, keep your clients and stakeholders informed and create a public record of happenings. Make a point, then, to put out a press release once a month, but only if you have something interesting to say. Having large gaps of time with no press releases issued creates the impression that either something is wrong, or nothing much is happening. Time required: 4 hours a month or so (average 8 minutes a day).
Related: How Social Media Can Help With PR
3. Follow a reporter (online).
Reporter and editors still heavily use Twitter as their primary social media platform. And like any other human being on social media, they take note of who follows them, who retweeted or favorited their tweet and who leaves an interesting or funny comment. Leverage this amazing resource, and anyone can connect one-to-one with some of the best known editors and reporters out there.
Considering how these poor folks get bombarded with hundreds of emails and pitches a day, Twitter is a fantastic way to bypass the clutter and make them take notice. But, consider Twitter to be a soft-sell channel; don't be overly aggressive in promoting a pitch right off the bat. Instead, use social media to establish a relationship first, then work relevant pitches in.
Speaking of relevant, be absolutely sure the media person targeted writes about the industry in question. This can be done with a quick Google search of the writer's name and a quick scan of the topics he or she has recently written on. Time required: 10 minutes a day.
Newsjacking isn't a crime, as its name may imply. It's a secret weapon that savvy PR folks use to get their clients consistent coverage. Doesn't it seem like some companies are always in the news? How they do that is by leveraging the power of newsjacking. Newsjacking means simply finding a way to make a company relevant to whatever the hot topics of the day are.
So, if cybersecurity is a hot topic of the moment, look to see if there are angles that relate your company to this topic. If the "sharing economy," such as Uber and Airbnb is the hot topic, likewise check out opportunities to participate in the conversation. Naturally this requires an awareness of what the trending topics are.
Thankfully, though, social media has come up with helpful ways to know what's buzzing. Both Twitter and Facebook have areas that show what topics or hashtags are trending at that moment. Make it a habit to check at least once a day, and think of any possible ways to inject your company into the conversation. Time required: 15 minutes a day.
5. Apply for awards.
Who doesn't like to win an award? Awards are a win-win for everyone. Companies feel good for being selected, and subsequent prospects feel good that someone has already vetted you. In the prospect's mind, the thinking is that if an award committee found a reason to name a company a finalist or a grand prize winner, there must be a good reason.
Winning multiple awards is a great way to build a portfolio of reputation that puts even the most skittish prospect at ease. But the first step in winning awards is knowing what awards are out there. For every industry, there are usually a handful of top awards available. Google "industry name + award" to quickly find the top ones to apply for.
Don't neglect local awards, diversity awards and "green" awards. Keep in mind that entry fees for awards vary from reasonable (a few hundred dollars) to expensive (closer to $1,000). Spending a little time finding the top awards and noting the submission deadlines could pay you dividends for years to come. Time required: 30 minutes a month (average 1 minute a day).
6. Follow HARO.
HARO isn't some UN organization. Its full name is www.helpareporter.com, and it's a mailing list that has a simple goal of connecting reporters who need material, with companies or individuals who could supply them with whatever they need. Every weekday, three HARO emails are sent out morning, afternoon and evening. The email is a long laundry list of story opportunities segmented by industry.
Sometimes, a listing reveals who the outlet and reporter is, sometimes not. Regardless, it's a great low-hanging fruit way of potentially getting your name into the press. HARO has recently become a bit of a victim of its own success. As its popularity has grown, so has the mob of people who respond to a reporter's inquiry. This ultimately leads back to the original dilemma of PR: breaking through the clutter. Still, your chances of winning success from responding to a HARO inquiry is greater than a cold pitch. So, sign up. Time required: 10 minutes a day.