News is changing. When was the last time you actually picked up a hard copy newspaper? And statistics show the younger you are, the less chance of that actually occurring.
Just because the method for getting the news is changing doesn’t mean the necessity for news events is changing. In fact “news” articles are needed more than ever. We no longer have one newspaper for one community. There are dozens of tools and resources that write up and look for news related content on a daily basis.
Yet if I were to ask you what you are doing to attract the attention of editors and writers for these sources, I bet your answer would be “Ummm…”
Let’s break it down, and look at ways you can start growing your business by using publicity, and find resources that will make your job even easier.
1. Know your budget.
Don’t you hate it when the first question out of a potential customer’s mouth is “How much for an 8×10?” Yet that same question is relevant in every industry.
Before you move forward and look for resources in the public relations industry, you have to know your budget. Can you afford to hire a publicity firm? Can you hire people to write press releases for you? How about hiring a virtual assistant to send things to editors and writers on a regular basis – and to keep you on track every month?
The only way to determine how much work you can have done for you is to determine how much you can spend.
You can also talk with more than one person in the industry, and get a better feeling for what is possible. Just because you can’t afford it now doesn’t mean you won’t be able to in the future. Learn what things are, discover the lingo within the industry, and research costs. Then put together a plan of things to do over the coming months.
When you are researching ideas, look for:
Publicity firms – These companies can create an entire campaign for you, and gain exposure in a variety of sources on a constant basis. Publicists usually specialize in an industry, so check around and make sure they understand photography, the creative arts, and have the resources to reach the appropriate people for your campaign.
Publicity coaches – The typical firm does the majority of the work for you. A publicity coach is someone that teaches publicity along the way so you can do more of the work yourself. It’s a great alternative when you are a young company looking for the big break in your business.
Press release writers – I’ve written dozens of press releases for both myself and for clients. If someone knows how to write a press release, you have a greater chance of it being picked up. For example, one of my clients has a business here in Denver, and has had articles in newspapers, magazines, even a European holiday catalog that is still bringing in a dozen or so sales every day.
Press release distribution – If you write press releases regularly, I would highly recommend PRWeb. Their services are one of the best in the business, and I’ve had a ton of luck with exposure and getting stories written up in all sorts of publications, online and off. This is your best bet if you want to write your own release and send it out to the widest audience.
2. Do your research.
Once you find a few resources you think are a good fit for you, your budget and your ideas, check them out thoroughly. Never sign up with a firm on a long term contract. Instead, research and look at their referral sources, and work together for a few weeks to see if you like the direction they are taking. Ask for regular updates, and check in often. With one publicist I worked with, we met every other Friday for coffee to go over plans, results and agendas. She always came to the table with great ideas, and I knew I was getting value in the way she pursued everything she did for our company.
Even if you’ve never worked with a publicist before, you can quickly tell how good they are by the way they present themselves. What is their background? What clients have they worked for? What ideas do they have?
I’ve never judged based on experience alone. In today’s world, someone with 30 years of experience may not have what it takes to succeed in the online world. They may still rely on personal contacts, a fax machine and a phone call. If they don’t get the Internet, that can hurt your chances at exposure.
Instead, look for a real go-getter. Someone who has a lot of ideas, and you resonate well with. You may be able to do some of the work yourself, relying on their ideas, and paying more of a consulting or coaching fee instead of a “work” fee. There are always options and opportunities; don’t be afraid to ask what the possibilities are. You’ll learn a lot along the way, and it will only help you down the road.
3. Be willing to try different things.
There’s a saying in the marketing world that only 50 percent of all marketing works; if you could just figure out what the 50 percent is, you could avoid a whole lot of pain.
That’s true with publicity too. Some things work. Some don’t
When you own your own business, it’s about trying, experimenting, learning, risking, and doing it all over again.
I’ve created products, mailed out thousands of cards, put my heart and soul into the marketing process for months, and had very little sales. That’s discouraging.
Then I’ve created the next product, and with very little effort it sells on a daily basis. You can’t stop the phones from ringing, or the email orders from flying in.
The same applies with everything you do. Start small. Find someone who you resonate with, and find out how to work together on a limited basis. Do they offer classes, coaching or other self-help products where you can learn about PR? What’s the next step – can you purchase small amounts of publicity help along the way? Can you grow to a full time program down the road?
The world is full of opportunity. You just have to know how to find it, and how to work together with the right person for you.