Unfortunately, our technology failed today, Zoom did not let us share our screen so our live Zoom webinar had to be a recorded webinar that you can watch at the bottom… So, what is PR? Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. When most people think of PR they think of someone writing you a story that gets you featured in a newspaper and that’s how we think about it a little bit too. It’s really that storytelling process and building relationships. It’s obviously very different from advertising and other traditional marketing streams but it’s a very important piece to the mix and we want to show you how you can DIY part of it.

Unlike advertising, where you pay for space, PR is about creating earned media stories and is seen as more trustworthy. This more trustworthy piece is really key because as you know, everybody sees so many ads on a day-to-day basis and people know they’re paying for that space, but when you read a piece of editorial content it really does create that extra layer of trust. Everybody with a small business and non-profits should be working on a PR strategy to try to become that thought leader in your space and creating authority content you know. PR and earn media are a really fantastic way to do that. It’s free, it just costs you in time! It increases your credibility so much, like any other type of marketing where you’re building your brand this is really about credibility and creating a community. There’s a misconception that PR is only for large companies with a huge online presence and lots of employees but there is a place for PR for businesses of all sizes, especially non-profits.

Small businesses often depend on word-of-mouth and upset customers can make a dent in profits. Effective PR keeps an eye on your brand’s reputation and image while giving valuable information to your audience and keeping you top of mind.

This is something that we use in our social media marketing strategies. We’re just consistently putting branded content out there to build trust. Upset customers are more likely to talk about their experience than a really happy customer so by layering in PR and trying to get other positive stories out there all the time, you’re sort of combating that angle. If you do have an issue with negative stuff being posted either about you or your business, you can kind of bury that a little further down which is really useful.

If you’re paying for it yourself, if your company is paying for it, or if you have an agency doing it for you, whether you’re paying a hundred bucks or a hundred thousand dollars a month, there are still no guarantees that you’re going to get the level of PR that you want. What’s published on news outlets can vary from day to day. Journalists look for stories that are timely, affect a lot of people, have an emotional element, or relate to other news stories. A journalist choosing your story is never guaranteed, although as you build contacts it can get easier. This is where the value really comes in if you are hiring a PR agency to do this for you; they have large databases of media contacts.

We have a template for a press release you can download to create your own press release to send off to media contacts! We recommend keeping your media list in a spreadsheet with the publication name, and email, and a column for what you submitted and when. You should constantly add to and adjust your media list.

The other thing you might want to do is go to Google and set up a Google Alert for your name. It will give you a heads up if someone’s published something with your name in it. If you’re featured somewhere, it’s a good idea to put a page on your website for awards or features.

Another free tool is Harrow, or help a reporter out and this is your new best friend if you’re starting off trying to get PR. You’re going to sign up as a source and select the categories you want notifications for, and three times a day you’ll get recap emails of reporters looking for help with stories. You can submit your pitch and hopefully, your story will get used! It doesn’t take long so we would recommend it while you’re just figuring it out.

Q&A

What is the cost of doing it myself vs. hiring an agency or freelancer?

If you’re doing this all yourself, you could say I charge X amount an hour for my service, this is going to take me ten hours a week, so this is the cost to myself. If you have the time, especially right now as people’s businesses are kind of in flux with the health crisis, some of you are really busy and some of you aren’t. It’s arguably a really good time to learn this stuff for yourself, so potentially the cost is nothing to you but your time. Again, if you’re to hire someone to outsource all of it or pieces of it, they might package it in different ways. If you know you’re on the low end you might have a junior freelancer or someone that’s getting their feet wet in PR or starting their own PR company but kind of at the ground level. You might pay thirty to fifty dollars an hour for someone to work on this stuff. Writing the release might take them a couple of hours, researching the contacts, sending the pitch, and follow-up you. Maybe you’re in the ballpark of five to ten hours of their time per release to send out so maybe it costs you a couple of hundred bucks. It could cost you a thousand, it just depends if you’re looking at like a large PR agency.

Are there any guarantees of getting featured?

This one’s really tough because there’s no guarantee. It’s really hard to calculate what a return is and even if there was a guarantee. That said, if for every ten press releases sent out if five are featured, well what is the actual value of that article? For some people, it might be the extra hundred clicks to their website. For someone else, they could just want to be in a position as the industry expert. In our case that’s what we want, to continually be featured so that we’re top of mind and have authority in this space. It’s really, really tough to put a dollar figure on that.

How long should I submit press releases consistently?

This will vary depending on how often you’re actually sending stuff out. Are you doing it every day? You could send your first pitch and it could get featured right away so maybe the same day, or maybe it’s three weeks from now, but in my experience, it takes a few months of doing it consistently to get the ball rolling and see some features.

I really hope this was helpful and I’m very sorry that we couldn’t get our Zoom call working for all the live questions but I’m here and happy to answer any questions you have about PR or about social media marketing!