PR

5 tips to help you get publicity for your business

By Becs Miller

For many entrepreneurs, the thought of having your business featured in top magazines and blogs is extremely appealing, but also somewhat daunting. You know that PR is a powerful tool for raising your profile and boosting your brand, but you likely have no idea where to start when it comes to writing press releases and pitching to editors and journalists.

Not only does PR enable you to reach more of your dream clients, it’s also a fantastic way to boost your credibility, and unlike traditional advertising, it’s free! Getting featured in the press is like someone endorsing your product or service, and makes consumers far more likely to trust you, and so much more likely to buy. Think of it this way, if you pick up your favourite magazine and see a fabulous pair of shoes on the front cover, there’s a strong possibility you’re going to want them even more. Likewise, if you log on to have a read of your favourite blog, and there’s an article about the owner of a business which really chimes with you, you are much more likely to visit their website and check out what they have to offer.

So, we can see the benefits of publicity for your business, but how do you go about getting yourself featured without forking out for an expensive PR agency? With a bit of research, and a dash of perseverance, it’s totally possible to do it yourself, and here are my top 5 tips to get you started.

1. Choose your publication

Start the process by thinking about which publications your ideal clients read, and make sure you read them yourself! There is nothing worse for an editor than receiving an ill-thought-out pitch for something which is totally irrelevant.

2. Put yourselves in the shoes of the reader

Come at your campaign from a place of giving and you will be far more likely to get some fabulous coverage. Think about ideas for articles which their readers will find useful or fascinating, and how you can provide value. Take the ‘So What?’ test. Be honest with yourself, is your story idea really of interest to people outside of your organisation? If the answer is yes, then you’re on to a winner!

3. Think of newsworthy ‘hooks’

A hook is something which will get the journalists’ attention. Are you holding an event, or launching something amazing? Have you got some top tips to share or have you helped someone? If you’re stuck for ideas, start with your business story. Many of the entrepreneurs I work with at Write and Reach have fascinating stories about why and how they started their businesses, and people love to read about others who are out there and living their dreams.

4. Prepare your pitch

When you’re ready to pitch your story, prepare a short email outlining who you are and why you think their readers will love this topic. You can also prepare a press release to send along with the pitch email, but whatever you do, don’t blanket bomb journalists with press releases, it’s a sure fire way to get blacklisted!

5. Prepare a media pack

So, now you’ve got your story and made the pitch, you want to make sure you’re ready when the editor comes knocking. Your media pack should contain high resolution images of your product, yourself and success stories of clients you have worked with. It should also contain some general details and background about your business, along with key stats. Include links to all of your social media profiles too.

And that’s it, you’re good to go! Remember that it can take time and perseverance to get publicity. Be patient, but don’t give up, it will be so worth it in the end. If you haven’t had a reply after a week or two, then drop the editor a friendly email asking if they will be covering your story, or if not then ask for feedback. This is a great way to build relationships and to find out exactly what editors are looking for, so that you can tailor your pitch even more next time.

Becs Miller is founder of Write & Reach, working with inspired entrepreneurs to help them promote their business in a way that feels easy, creative and fun!  Having spent 15 years working for UK based and international charities, she took the leap and started her own business in 2013. Her signature package, The Publicity Program™ teaches her tried and tested techniques to get your business featured in top magazines and blogs. Becs is passionate about helping entrepreneurs build the business of their dreams, and is on a quest to inspire creativity in everything we do. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Top photo credit: Death to the Stock Photo

What do horses and business have in common?

By Andrea Sexton

I’d like to tell you a story about a very shy and quiet little girl.

At 9 years old I was quiet, shy but a pretty sweet kid (if I say so myself!). I’d had several operations on one of my ears which meant I’d missed school and didn’t have any very close friends. I don’t know what drew me to want to ride horses but there was definitely a pull and I was completely fascinated by them.

I was very lucky that my Granny took me to a riding school and I have to be honest and say I was completely petrified at first and I made poor Granny learn to ride as well. Most weeks I used to say to her “Nana I don’t think I will ride this week, I just want to brush the ponies” and of course I’d brush them for a bit and then gradually I would feel more like riding and I would enjoy myself.

Through riding I started to find a confidence that I’d never had before. Whilst I was at senior school I was lucky enough to have my own horse and my best day of the week was Wednesday as we finished early and I could go riding. My tutor knew that if she got me talking about horses that she could steer me onto the school subjects she needed me to talk about. If she had asked me her “real” questions straight away she would have had a very different response (in fact probably no response!).

During my late teens I became a much more confident person and I followed my love of equines to Bristol University to study Equine Science. Nowadays I love to speak in public and I am certain that my experience with horses and the way they built my confidence have had a profound impact on the way I am now.

Not only did horses help me with my confidence but they also gave me skills that I use every day in business.

I did quite well at equestrian competitions during my teens and I enjoyed the process of picking out the events I wanted to do and training my horse for them. This was my first taste of goal setting. It’s still a process I really enjoy (that might sound a bit odd!). I learned from a young age that often you set a goal and then something happens to make you have to change it and make a new plan. Now I run my own business I utilise my planning skills every day, and I enjoy that part of my day. As I have 3 small children and run a business it’s amazing how many times plans and goals have to be altered.

One of the other favourite things I learned from riding as a child was “Keep it simple stupid!” (KISS).

When I started riding I read a lot of books and studied the top riders. One of my hero’s then was Ginny Leng (now Ginny Elliot). Her trainer Dot Willis was famous for keeping everything very simple. Horses can’t cope with too much information and you have to be very clear. I am definitely that way in business and always try to keep things simple. It makes it easier to work and also makes the relationship with my clients much easier as well.

There is so much that sport has given me and I’m glad that I can share a few insights of my experiences with you. Now I have my own children I will certainly encourage them to find a sport that they love and to have fun with it. Sport will give them so much more than fitness, it will provide them with skills they will be able to use throughout their whole lives.

Andrea Sexton runs a PR company based in the UK. She specialises in sports, charity and event PR and Marketing and works with various individuals and companies from all over the world. When not working in her business or playing with her 3 children, Andrea enjoys running, reading and cooking.


How To Approach A Publicist 101 // Blog Biz

By Elly Michelle Clough

By day I am a publicist working in-house for a theatre company, by night (and early mornings and weekends and lunch breaks…) I write about one of my favourite things, gin, on my blog The Ginstress. I really love media and working as a publicist, and as a blogger I’ve seen a lot of confusion in this gorgeous community about how to work with publicists and I am in a great position to help clear this up. These are some of the most common concerns I see, and how you can work through them while being true to your blog.

How do I start working with publicists?
Start where you are! Even if you’ve just started your blog you can start approaching publicists you’d like to work with and ask to be added to their media list. This means that they will send you media releases about their clients. 

The great thing is that what bloggers want and what publicists want can align really perfectly. Bloggers want to share things they love with their audience. Publicists want to find people who will love the thing they are selling. If that matches up with what the blogger and their tribe love, that’s a big win for everyone. Publicists are always looking for new ways to reach new people, so they definitely do want to hear from you.

If you ask for samples they will probably ask for your stats (see the next point). It’s important to keep in mind how much samples cost the PR agency or their client. Small cosmetics have a huge mark up and actually cost very little so they will probably be pretty generous, a bottle of gin on the other hand has a high built in cost and a huge tax charge even when it’s given away. So there will be very different expectations based on the value of the product.

A publicist asked me for my stats, should I send them?
This is really up to you. My rule of thumb? If a publicist approaches a blogger, they should have done enough research to know they want to work with you without seeing your stats. If a blogger approaches a publicist, you should expect to be asked for your stats as they won’t necessarily know much about you and will need more information before they work with you.

A publicist wants me to write about a product for free. They don’t work for free, why should I?
This is something I see in groups and forums a lot. I really do understand the frustration, but this is misunderstanding of how publicists have traditionally operated. Traditionally, publicists have been hired to talk to the media about their client or product and find ways for the product to be newsworthy and interesting journalists, so they will create a story about it that engages their audience. The publicist is paid by their client, and the journalist is paid by the media organisation they work for. There is no financial exchange between the journalist and the publicist. In fact it would be considered pretty dodgy for a publicist to offer any inducement beyond a sample of the product or an interview with the client. 

Blogs have turned all this on its head. To us, blogs have been around forever, but for a lot of publicists the idea that they would pay someone to write about a product is very new and confusing. This is changing, slowly. More and more established media organisations are moving into paid native content, but that is often handled by marketing or advertising agencies rather than PR. For blogs to be a profitable and an ongoing part of the media landscape there will need to be significant change in the structures of who pays whom, but it is taking a long time.

Don’t take offence if a publicist pitches you a story or a product without offering payment, it possibly never occurred to them that they should pay you. And if they say they don’t have budget for paid posts, they probably don’t. I certainly don’t!

They didn’t even get my name right on the media release!
Yes, this is sloppy. Most publicists will have a media of list that runs into the thousands, there are bound to be errors. There shouldn’t be, but there are. You know how I get around this? I don’t put names on media releases. I follow up with personal emails to journalists and bloggers I know have a particular interest in what I’m talking about and I have a relationship with, but I’m in a really small niche. In fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) it’s much more of a scatter gun approach. When you’re looking to sell millions of units all over the country, it becomes more of a numbers game. Remember you can always ignore and delete the email, don’t dilute your energy worrying about it. 

I was pitched baby formula, my youngest child is 7!
Oh I hear you! I write about gin in Sydney and get invites to pizza restaurants opening in London. If you get an off mark pitch, ignore it and delete it. You are not obliged to respond to every media release you get, and no one expects you to, you won’t be blacklisted or anything. If it’s from a PR agency you want to work with send them a quick email saying it’s not the right product or story for you and let them know what you are interested in, it can be a great way to start a relationship.

Is this publicist having me on?
I see lots of comments from people about not feeling comfortable with something a publicist has offered them. In this situation, go with your instincts. Your blog is your hard work and passion, your loyalty is to your readers, not to a product or a publicist. Always do what you feel is best for your blog and your tribe. Be firm but polite and good publicists will respect that.

The most important thing to remember is that there is a person at the end of all those emails. Often a very young person who is just learning the ropes. They are never setting out to upset or offend you, they are learning and trying to balance the demands of their bosses and clients on one side, and media and bloggers on the other. We’re all in the business of getting good news about things we love to people who will love them, we’re all on the same team and the collaborates can be a big win/win/win.

If you have any questions about blogging and publicity, come find me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. When I’m not talking about gin I love talking about media and publicity for bloggers.

Image: Tealily

Blog Biz // 5 Tips For Working With PR Agencies

5-tips-working-with-PR

About a million years ago, when I was living in LA, I used to be a publicist. As a twenty-something working in the film industry, I loved the world of PR - it was exciting, fun, creative and the perfect fit for someone who thrives on being a natural connecter.  Since then my career path has shifted and the world of PR has changed - social media and the emergence of bloggers as influencers has turned the industry upside down and added so many new challenges - as well as benefits.  

As a blogger, I've found myself on the other side of the PR fence these days and have had wonderfully positive experiences working with brands that respect my boundaries and understand my audience as well as the negative onslaught of pushy PR's with their own agenda - we've all received that 'dear blogger' email haven't we?  I believe there is a happy medium when it comes to bloggers/brands and PR agencies working together in perfect harmony, and while that relationship will vary for everyone, there are some solid truths I've learned along the way that I wanted to share today.  These 5 tips will keep you focused and sharp the next time you wonder if working with a PR agency is right for your blog:

  1. Know Your Audience
    Before deciding which brands are the right fit for your blog you need to truly, madly, deeply understand your audience and who is reading your blog. Write up a reader persona if it helps, send out a survey, visualise - whatever it takes to ensure you have a clear understanding of who you are speaking to and what motivates them.  When that is clear you'll be able to communicate that and work with brands that resonate with your audience - always go for an organic, seamless fit. If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't for you.
  2. The Art Of Saying No
    Yes, it's always nice to have a little extra cash coming your way but please, please don't be afraid to politely decline an offer that doesn't suit you or your audience. Publicists will understand - and may have better suited clients to pitch you - but saying yes to an opportunity when your gut is screaming no is a bad idea, trust me. Being able to say no, while maintaining your professional relationship is a skill you need to have - give it a try.
  3. Disclosure
    This one is pretty simple, if you are paid outright for a post or service be transparent and let your audience know. Not only are you complying legally, you are giving your audience the respect they deserve.  Now sometimes brands will ask you to hide that 'sponsored' by line, or remove it altogether - be vocal, be firm and be clear up front. 
  4. Prepare A Media Kit
    It's never too early to prepare a media kit and have it ready when PR agencies start asking. Do your research, invest in design and don't sell yourself short. Brands and bloggers can easily negotiate until both parties are happy but a strong media kit will start you off on the right foot - and please for the love of god make your contact details, email address or social media links clear and easy to find. Nothing is worse than losing an opportunity simply because the PR couldn't find your contact details.
  5. Ask An Expert
    When in doubt ask an expert. Whether you have a friend in PR who can shed some light on best practice or a blogger who has been working with brands for years, don't be afraid to ask around. There are also some pretty amazing resources out there and one of my fav's, Brand Meet Blogs just released a free ecourse on this exact subject. Highly encourage you to check it out if the world of PR is new to your blog.

Have a story of working with PR agencies that you'd love to share? Go ahead and tell us something wonderful or amuse us with that can't believe it's true horror story, don't be shy!