The Do-It-Yourself PR Trend and What it Means for Your European Business
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Launching a European business into the United States can be a smart move, allowing entrepreneurs to enjoy significant opportunities and become global players. However, doing business in the United States is a different game and you need to do your homework carefully.
There are lots of big companies that have successfully expanded on the U.S. market, but it can be challenging for a small company to survive such a move. One of the decisive aspects that will incline the balance one way or the other is understanding the real cost of the marketing strategy needed to make things happen. In the U.S., everything is driven by marketing; your product may not be enough if you don’t have a convincing presentation for it.
Marketing is also much more expensive than in Europe, so many companies turn to publicity (media coverage), instead of traditional advertising, as a way to decrease their marketing costs and increase their return on the budget spent. PR can also play a crucial role in other parts of the business, like getting investors and attracting talent.
While earned media can be more effective than advertising (in terms of cost, longevity and impact), it still can be costly. Until not long ago, a European entrepreneur could get media attention in the United States only by paying a monthly five-figure retainer to a PR agency. But that is no longer the case: the development of technology and social media networks make it possible today to be your own publicist and easily get your message out there.
Because you are the one who knows your business inside out and you are your brand’s biggest fan, you should be your own publicist. Here is how you can get U.S. media attention without paying a cent:
1. Publish articles on smaller websites and blogs that are read by your ideal U.S. audience.
So many people dream of seeing their name in national magazines and online publications with millions of readers every month and they forget about the smaller blogs and websites. This approach is a mistake. Being featured on a popular website can immediately increase your brand recognition, but putting your business in front of the ideal audience, even if it might be smaller, is the key to helping you get more sales.
2. Pitch your stories to top online publications with a U.S. audience.
I have helped hundreds of entrepreneurs grow their business, and when it comes to pitching themselves, most are terrified. So I tell them this: editors are always on the lookout for great content that their audience would love. If you are able to provide them with quality content, you will make their job easier. It is a win-win situation.
Also, all the editors I have talked to told me that they are sick of receiving bad pitches: being treated like a service provider, receiving content that is not relevant to their publication, bad emails or poorly written articles. Journalists want to write great stories, they don’t care about your business idea. Understanding this is your chance to stand out in their crowded inbox.
Once your pitch is approved, keep your word and send them the article you promised within the set deadline. Pay attention to the spelling and grammar. If you are not a native English speaker, you can use free tools such as Grammarly or hire someone to edit your article before you submit it (you can find a freelancer online or you can hire an English teacher in your town). For more tips on pitching to a top publication, you can check out the advice of Jason Feifer, Entrepreneur's editor-in-chief.
Another great free tool you can use is HARO (Help A Reporter Out). This tool publishes daily requests from journalists in various fields who are looking for expert advice and stories to include in their articles. I follow HARO and I regularly see journalist queries from top media outlets based in the U.S.
3. Become a podcast guest.
Half of all U.S. homes listen to podcast. The popularity of podcasts has exploded over the past years. On iTunes alone, there are more than 500,000 podcasts that have more than 50 billion all-time downloads. No matter who your audience is, you can find a great podcast they listen to, then pitch yourself as a guest expert to appear on that podcast.
4. Pitch your products or your story to U.S. print magazines.
If you want to be featured in a print magazine, remember that the editorial process is longer, so you need to have a plan. Usually, a print magazine locks an edition three to six months before putting it on the market.
Choose your narrative wisely; it needs to be interesting and a natural fit for that publication. Become familiar with a magazine before pitching anything and always pitch the right editor (who covers the topics that your products or services fall into).
All of these different strategies take some time, so a good idea is to start by picking a few websites, podcasts and print magazines that you know are suitable for your brand (they are followed, listened and read by your targeted audience) and focus on sending relevant pitches to them. Quality always trumps quantity.