If you’re a small business owner then you’ve probably got a whole host of marketing tools that you’re using. But if you’ve been thinking about incorporating PR into your marketing mix, you need to ensure you don’t make any of these common mistakes, as they could prevent you from achieving the great media coverage that you deserve.
1. Thinking that PR won’t work for your business
PR is a valuable tool for any business, however large or small and whatever industry you’re in. Not convinced? Just think about the vast array of publications that are out there. From cats, to concrete, to cakes, to casual wear, there’s a publication for virtually every niche conceivable. (If you’ve ever seen the caption round on the BBC’s Have I Got News For You quiz show, you’ll know that there truly are magazines for the most obscure of subjects – Egg Cup World anyone?).
So whatever your business is, there’s the potential to get media coverage. Worried that your business isn’t ‘newsworthy’ enough? It’s all about coming up with a news angle that works for you. Trust me, every business is newsworthy in its own way. You simply need to think about what might be new/interesting/relevant about your business to a journalist.
Once you have an idea of a suitable publication and a possible news angle, you need to create your press release, and send it out to your target journalists.
2. Botching your press release
Which brings us on to the second mistake many business owners make with PR – botching the press release. When you create a press release it needs to be clear, concise and well-written. Make sure you include all the relevant information but don’t ramble on too much. Why? Journalists are busy people, if you make their job easy for them, they’re far more likely to want to cover your story.
If your press release includes all the important aspects of your story in a clear and concise way, they journalist will be able to easily read and digest it, and decide if it’s right for them.
You should write the press release as though it’s a news story, because often the journalist will copy and paste parts of your press release into their article or news piece. This is good news for you because it means you’re not only making the journalist’s job easy (extra Brownie points for you!) but you’re also ensuring that all the valuable info you’ve included is likely to mentioned in the finished piece.
The other thing to remember with a press release, is to include a strong headline – use it to win the journalist over – and to check the spelling and grammar before you send it out.
3. Annoying journalists
Ok, so we’ve already covered how you can get into the journo’s good books by providing him or her with a well-written press release. But the last thing you want to do is put all your hard work to waste by annoying the journalist when you get in touch with them.
As I mentioned, journalists are generally very busy – newsrooms can be stressful, sometimes chaotic, places – so don’t add to their stress. If you call up a journalist and drone on about the minutiae of your business for half an hour you are not going to ingratiate yourself with them. It’s far better to contact the journalist by email and let them read your press release at their leisure.
If you don’t hear back from them within a couple of days, by all means follow up with a phone call, but remember to be friendly and polite on the phone and keep it brief. Feel free to contact the journalist again if you have a new press release in the future, but don’t bombard them. Instead, try to build up a relationship with them so that they are more likely to want to run your news.
4. Not shouting about your PR success
A common mistake that I often see amongst small business owners who are dipping their toes into PR, is that they forget to shout about any media coverage that they do achieve.
Often people get their business written about in a publication, but don’t do anything to capitalise on it. Maximise every PR opportunity by making sure you tell people whenever you get media coverage. Tell your family, friends and customers about it, put links to the article on Twitter and Facebook, blog about it, write about it in your newsletter and update the ‘news’ section of your website.
Dina Behrman is a communications expert with more than a decade’s experience in journalism, writing for national publications such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Mail on Sunday, Daily Express, and many of the women’s magazines.
As the former Commissioning Editor for a national newspaper supplement, she knows what editors are looking for.
Since starting up her business, Dina Behrman Communications, she’s given PR support to a host of small business owners. Subscribe to her weekly ezine and receive her free report 7 Secrets To Generating Amazing Publicity For Your Business.
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