“How do I use PR to…
- Get more customers?
- Grow my business?
- Stand out from the competition?
- Inject new life into my online presence?
Almost every week, small business people and entrepreneurs ask me how can PR build your customer base and grow your business?
It doesn’t happen overnight, unless you’re one of those rare savvy jack-of-all-trades who hits the PR jackpot and has your product or service featured on The Today Show or on the Chicago Tribune front page in your first round of media outreach.
It starts with building relationships with the people who can help you spread word about your business.
Look at your local newspaper or radio station. What stories do you see about your industry? Who is the reporter, how can you contact them, what are his/her interests? Do you have any interests in common?
You can find out a lot about reporters by simply following what they write about. Many media outlets provide online profiles about their writers and editors. Often, they’re buried online under the “About Us” or “Contact Us” sections. For example, many major metro newspapers, such as the Chicago Tribune and the Daily Herald (serving the North and Northwest suburbs), have a very detailed list of their reporters, writers and editors.
These editorial directories can be a bit hard to find. For example, the Daily Herald lists their media contacts under the tab “Services & Info, which isn’t the most intuitive for searchers. Often, media outlets bury their “Contact Us” link at the bottom of their web page in very fine print. Take the time and patience to look for it.
Trying to reach TV reporters? You’ll often find their contact information online as well, although it seems TV stations make it the hardest to find that info. For example, this NBC5 Chicago contact site has minimal information. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, pick up the phone, call the station or outlet’s general number and ask to be connected to the Newsroom. Someone staffing the news desk will be able to direct you to the appropriate person. Don’t be surprised if you get a reporter’s voicemail.
Use the search tool available on nearly all media outlet web sites to see past stories. If their stories are archived (often for a fee), make a small investment to get copies of their most recent reports.
Consider ways to get their attention by sending them samples of your product, inviting them to visit your business, or sharing a new angle or bit of advice on something they’ve reported on. Better yet, send an email, complimenting their work and offering your expertise for a future story. Invite them for coffee (most reporters don’t have time for lunch, but you should still extend the invitation.) Don’t be discouraged if they say they’re too busy for an in-person meeting. They really are busy – their jobs have become more demanding. Besides reporting the news, media reps also are expected to post on social network profiles and/or provide additional content for media-owned blogs (or even their own personal blog).
Are you on Facebook or Twitter (either a personal or professional page)? It’s very likely that reporter is also on social media, so take the time to “Like” their page, follow what they do, and engage. Post items on their wall that are helpful. And I mean helpful - not bragging or advertisements. Show them that you can be a valuable resource.
Establishing media relationships is one way to open the door to possible coverage and demonstrate your expertise and credibility.
Next time we’ll talk about how you can use social networks to spread word of mouth and get your customers and their friends talking about you and providing untapped exposure.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your experiences working with reporters. What have you done to get their attention?
Was it fruitful? What could you have done better? Leave a comment and I promise to respond!
Post happily written by Michelle Damico