Have your efforts to generate more press coverage for your small business been falling flat lately? It may simply boil down to your approach. What exactly is expected when you contact the press about your small B2B business. Discover three key elements in small business PR to generate more press for your business -- and how to make it last!
How Small Business PR Has Changed
Small business or startup PR isn't a "build it and they will come" endeavor. That may have been true in the heady days of startup glory when anyone with a concept could seeming get funding and a little ink. Today you need to create a viable story that will resonate with the media and prospects. What are your customers' pain points and how are you solving them? What are you doing that will save your prospects time, money or make them more successful and more satisfied? Remember: You're not just introducing a new product or service. Your initiative needs to impact prospects' lives -- for the better. Otherwise, why do it?
The press isn't your handmaiden, there simply to serve your startup PR needs. The emphasis of press relations is on forming a mutually beneficial relationship with the press. They’re under a crunch to get a great story, and you need to deliver.
Learn how to get away from those cookie-cutter emails and create pitches that make journalists want to work with you.
(Click here to learn 7 B2B PR tips that will boost your media presence.)
1. Do Your Research and Go In Prepared
Journalists aren’t generally jacks of all trades -- many of them specialize in one subject area. Do your homework before you contact an environmental blogger to write about your new tech release -- or something equally off-topic.Research them on social media outlets like Twitter or Google+ to find out their style of writing, as well as their subject area of expertise. Another good tool to eavesdrop on journalists is Muck Rack.
If you get a face-to-face meeting with a journalist, go in with a game plan! If your ideas are haphazard and last minute, you’ll send any journalist or blogger running for the hills. Be organized in both presentation and delivery. Prepare a mental bullet list of points that inspire coverage. Think in terms of your end goal. What would your ideal story look like? The perfect headline? Thinking about the end result helps you plan your presentation more strategically. Hone your key messages and don't be afraid to be a little repetitious so the key points sink in.
Know what you want coverage for, such as:
- A company milestone
- A product launch
- A fundraising event
- An acuqistion
(To learn about 3 B2B public relations mistakes and how to salvage them, click here.)
Do your homework. Do you know others in your field who are whizzes at startup PR? Ask them to introduce you to any media they've worked with. If you have a compelling story to share, the blogger or journalist may be eager to know about your business -- it's a win-win for a media person to try? Don't forget to create what we like to refer to as "extras" -- sticky items to keep you top of mind. Do you have a demo version of your prodcut you can have the media person try? Do you have any compelling visuals -- an infographic or video -- you can share that will showcase what you do? Any tool you can use to tell your story better? Go for it.
2. Make Your Approach Tailor-Made
Be warm and affable -- let these qualities and your brand’s personality flow through your correspondence. They’re people, just like you, and they don’t want to work with a zero-personality robot. Yet, always balance your friendliness with professionalism. For example, use a reporter's full name unless you are given a nickname -- he may prefer James over Jim.
While it may be easy to copy-and-paste your pitch to journalists, it can get sloppy fast, and take away from the individualized, “just for you” approach that you want. Imagine accidentally sending a pitch email with the wrong name or publication -- eek! It’s a quick way to end up in the reporter's trash folder. Using a template is fine! Just remember to double -- even triple -- check that all grammar, spelling, formatting, and information is correct before you hit that send button. There’s no take-backs in the land of email.
Add some individual touches that will set you apart from the pack, and will perk the interest of a prospective journalist. Research and reference past articles they have written, or current market trends that will set the stage for your story. It shows that thought has gone into making this request and choosing this particular person to write it.
(Click here to learn how to write a kick-ass press release.)
In the pitch itself, get right to the meat of the matter, and make it concise. Create a "why should they care" hook. Are they any statistics you can cite to demonstrate a need for your product or service? For example, we worked with an educational technology client that has an easy way of assessing and validating job candidates while helping level the playing field for job seekers. We were able to show data about the cost of a bad hire and how many jobs go unfilled because recruiters can't find viable candidates.
Don't, however, send a longwinded email. Your goal is to tempt the journalist to want to learn more. Whet the reporter's appetite and ask if he or she wants to see more or to do an interview.
Remember, longer isn’t better -- it’s just more work. Only include the necessary information. If their interested is piqued, you can go into more detail later.
3. Don't Forget About Them In The Aftermath
Remember, your goal is to form long-term relationships with these journalists. Don’t just forget about them once you get what you want. Thank them once the piece is published. Even better, give them a shout out on social media, such as an @mention on Twitter, publicly thanking them for their hard work, and including a link to their article. Don't forget about them after your article runs. Continue to promote some of their content on social media. They’ll be more likely to remember you and work with you in the future.
They’ll see you not just as a resource, but as a partner. --Marna Becker
Maintain your relationships with individual journalists and bloggers, and make it a two-way street. It’s not all about your small business PR needs. Check in every once in a while to see if you can lend your expertise to an article they’re working on. This way, it will be easier to call on them when you need press coverage in the future.
(Click here to learn how being a good person can generate positive press for your startup.)
Small business PR is an ongoing process. Your work doesn't end with one story. You want to keep the fires burning with the media and your company in the public's eye. That means continuing to develop meaningful stories that elevate your thought leadership and your company's profile. That way you'll differentiate yourself from your competitors -- and score more visibility and credibility.