PR and media coverage doesn’t have to be limited to the big corporate brands out there. As a small business you possess more opportunity than ever to use the fragmented media landscape to your advantage. By being able to reach your specific audience directly you ensure that you have control of the message you put out and who reads it.
When it comes to big corporations and their PR, sure they have bigger budgets, bigger brands and weight behind them. But a small business can be agile. As a result, moving quickly when ideas come together provides creative freedom.
PR Tips for Small Business
While big corporations send PR releases, small business can be agile testing different angles and subject lines simultaneity to find what is getting the best response from journalists. Think about it, what PR stunt can you pull out of your hat, that your mammoth competitor could never do?
#1 Use Tools to Find Opportunities
Sometimes a small business just doesn’t have breaking news or coverage worthy stories. That’s by all means not a problem and shouldn’t be considered a hurdle for media coverage.
Small businesses may also not have the budget or personnel that needs to be dedicated to finding newsworthy information and pitching journalists. This results in a tepid attempt at PR by simply taking a sales page about your product and blasting out via news wire.
Then, nothing but tumbleweed and crickets.
PR instantly becomes a poor channel and shouldn’t be considered. With the vast range of tools to cater for any issue out there, you should consider looking at what is out there.
Use external sources and tools, which there is plenty of, to your advantage. There are so many options out there for collecting public-facing data, for free, and using your industry knowledge to align with potential PR opportunities.
For example, consider Google Trends tactic which provides search information from a vast array of time ranges. This takes into account search volume and dates etc to average out the results and paint an image of interest in a subject and break out subjects that are linked.
Data is everywhere and we still struggle to understand it. As an industry insider you may be able to decipher the data and find a link between A and B. This will inevitably be of massive interest to key journalists and publications.
By using this information and gathering the editorial calendars of relevant outlets you can start to try and link peaks and troughs to your industry insight.
Here’s Where Tools Come in Handy
Mark Thomson of PayKickStart, a shopping cart platform, mentioned to me:
Sometimes I just have no idea what journalists want to hear. It’s tough to figure out what is the next story they are writing. So I go to Google News or Google Trends and do some quick analysis on what journalists are talking about which relates to keywords I am expert in such as Ecommerce. Just by looking up trends and news on Ecommerce and latest articles I can usually tell what type of info/angle I should pitch.
What this means is that you can reach out and provide insight into the outlets. As a result, an industry insider is available for comment and will be included in coverage. By adding a comment consistently and with value to stories you start to develop solid relations.
Inevitably, you will start to see potential stories and trends that you can share with your core outlet contacts. This is where PR coverage starts to take place.
#2 Become Exceptional at Media Relations
Start thinking about PR as strategic account management. From a small business perspective, every activity is reviewed based on commercial output. Resources are thin so this is completely understandable, which is also why small businesses struggle with even the foundational processes of PR.
There are 2 common and major issues that the PR world is guilty of.
Not Understanding Journalists
Journalists follow specific beats and cover specific angles. Which you will only know when you conduct research, without research you are literally just sending out a random message to the majority of journalists and outlets.
Imagine how enraging it is when a cold caller contacts you, pitching something that is for another industry. It’s a waste of time. But again, without research on the journalist, you are more than likely an uneducated cold caller.
Not Understanding the Outlets
Top media coverage is what every business, no matter the size, dreams of. But for example a B2B company, top media is going to be a serious battle as your industry may have never been covered or of interest.
Therefore, you need to understand which outlets are focused to your industry and your business. Aligning industry insight with the outlets’ angles ensures you are reaching the right audience.
Spend time researching outlets and journalists. It’s straightforward and not groundbreaking insight but overall it’s such a basic process but so few small businesses (some PR pros are also guilty) do it well or do it at all.
#3 Create an Editorial Calendar
The above tips should culminate in a solid, forward-looking content calendar for the entire year if possible.
The first 2 tips are there to help you build a foundational understanding of your industry’s PR landscape. The data that you can source and the outlets/journalists who would be interested in your comment provides the perfect start to getting media coverage.
Once you have the understanding you should focus your efforts on developing a solid content calendar. Below are 2 quick tips for getting this started, properly.
Collect Outlet Calendars
First things first, shortlist key industry media outlets that are super relevant to you. Then reach out to the firstname.lastname@example.org and introduce yourself and request their editorial calendar.
Most are happy to provide this as they can use it as a sales tool for advertising. Regardless once you get this calendar you should add all the stories etc into your calendar.
Create Your Own
Now using your Google Trends skills and industry insight you can start to search through keywords that are relevant. Be it product-based, competitor, repeat event – the point is to start reviewing any trends and potential comments you can see.
Pull the Google data out and review your outlet calendars – are there any trends between the data you see and the proposed content? Yes, great. Add a comment to the story a month before it goes live. No, no problem just keep searching. There is bound to be something of interest for you to find based on global internet searches.