Small business owners and managers that want to quickly gain visibility and credibility in a big way should invest in a solid public relations campaign in 2010 with a strong emphasis on media.
Getting your company brand known and recognized by the right media is key to keeping your name in front of your prospective audiences. Getting a third party endorsement via coverage in a well-read publication translates into a powerful push for your product or service. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning your PR strategy.
- Create a media list. Develop a comprehensive list of media outlets (print, broadcast and online) where your prospects are most likely to be found. The list should include names and detailed contact information for each reporter, editor, broadcaster, writer or producer. Developing this list should take considerable effort, as you need to identify those individuals who are the decision makers where news is concerned. You need to know the media, know the audience and know the inside contacts to make the most out of this valuable too. Also, take the time to learn how best to reach each individual--what time, what day, via phone, email, etc. for best results.
- Develop key messages. Develop a well crafted, to-the-point set of messages that relate to you and your business that meaningfully set you apart from the rest in your field. Put together your best value propositions and articulate them well with compelling language. These are the key message points that you will want to translate each time you come into contact with a media representative.
- Create a compelling pitch. Pitching your story to the media is what ultimately gets you into print, on the air or online. Before you identify a particular media representative and approach the person with your best pitch, put yourself in his or her place. What is the value that you are offering them and their particular audience? Are you offering some news-worthy information that is exclusive? Are you adding expert commentary to a story that they are already reporting on and you can add value? Are you offering an "every green" story that has a common yet interesting appeal that can be used during times of slow news? Are you pitching something that will coincide with a holiday story or will otherwise fit into the editorial slant of the media? Make it clear that you are providing value for their audience and that you will help them with the story.
Remember to keep your messages to the media simple yet compelling. Ask yourself what you or your company provides that will add to a feature or news story for a particular media outlet. You can also increase your chances of piquing the interest of a reporter if you have high quality photos or videos to accompany your pitch. The further you can get inside the reporter's head to figure out what they are looking for, the better you'll be able to offer true value.
If you've never approached the media before with story ideas or company news, you may want to enlist the expertise of a media consultant or other professional who can open some doors and write some compelling copy for you.
Once your name and company have been covered by a local newspaper, the local cable channel or the national news, you will want to maintain a conversation with your media contacts that you have worked so hard to cultivate. Plan now to put together a comprehensive public relations plan so that you can have an ongoing stream of media attention of the next 12 months.