When it comes to public relations, early stage entrepreneurs come from two very different schools of thought. Some believe they are too early to leverage PR, while others stumble in their approach to pitching their idea or lack the contacts to get their foot in the door. Public Relations is about relationships. Entrepreneurs need a roadmap to help them identify and engage the right media channels to drive awareness and traction in the early days of their business.
To begin, you must know your audience. Who is your target demographic? What shows do they watch? What magazines do they read? Once you've identified who your target market is, you now need to identify what media outlets target your clientele.
While everyone may want to be on Ellen or in Forbes, every product or service is not meant for those outlets.
To identify the proper outlets for your brand, you'll need to do some research.
1. Conduct a quick Google search of trends and terms associated with your industry. Once this is complete, review the results to see what outlets recently shared articles on these topics. Example search: Weight loss pills that work.
2. Search for competitors and check out their press/media pages. This is a great way to position yourself as a true competitor among peers by aligning yourself with similar outlets.
3. Search for media outlets within your geographical area. Example search: Top newspapers in Austin, TX.
4. Search for media outlets that highlight new businesses/ products. Example search: New businesses in Austin, TX.
Now that you have identified a list of media outlets, how do you contact them? Here are a few tips.
1. Contact Tabs: Most media outlets want to hear your story. Often the names and email addresses of contributing writers will be listed in a directory to ensure that you reach the correct reporter that covers your topic. Once you locate this information, reach out to the person whom covers your area of interest.
2. Search LinkedIn: If the outlet does not provide a contact tab, identify the reporter's name from a previously written article and search for the name on LinkedIn. While searching, LinkedIn will also provide you with others who work at the same company or in similar fields that you may want to also connect with. Use this opportunity to build a relationship with the reporter by commenting on posts prior to requesting an interview.
3. Social Media: You may also reach writers by messaging them on social media. Writers often share posts on their social media accounts when they are seeking expert help on an article. This is when preparation meets opportunity, lending you the perfect time to pitch your business or expertise to the writer to highlight your thought leadership. The pitch is important as you should aim to sell them on your story and not just ask to be interviewed.
4. Media Kits: Most magazines have a media kit that is traditionally used to sale advertisements. What many business owners fail to realize is that within the media kit, you can find out the main focus of each upcoming issue and the deadline for all printed features. By visiting the media kit, you can use the data to determine the proper time to pitch to the outlet. Example: If the deadline is Dec. 8th, you should pitch to the outlet no later than Nov. 8th, i.e. 30 days prior.
Once you know who to pitch and how to reach them, take the time to craft your email. Prepare a 2-3 paragraph newsworthy story that expresses who you are, your brand messaging, and why their audience would be interested in hearing your story. Be sure to include any charitable affiliations, awards, and/or influencers who may be involved in your project.
As CEO of A Brand Called U and Founder of Leader Ship Box, Rachel has cultivated her passion for public relations and brand management into multifaceted award winning businesses that operate successfully in competitive arenas such as sports, lifestyle, tech, non-profit, and subscription box services.