Getting your business in the news can be a fantastic way to send a rush of buyers to your door. Sometimes it’s local news, sometimes it’s online coverage or in rare cases you could even land yourself on national news. What makes PR different than conventional marketing channels is that it’s completely free.
How can you get yourself free PR, without hiring a PR agency?
==> Start Doing Reporters Favors
Go to events in your area and get the business card of any reporter you meet. Reporters will often go to events in their area of specialty. For example, the Food Section reporter will go to wine tastings and the Tech section reporter will be at technology minglers.
If you can’t meet reporters in person, read your paper carefully and send sources and useful information towards reporters whenever you can. Follow them on Twitter and respond if you can help them out on a story of theirs.
Bottom line: build goodwill towards reporters.
==> Contact Reporters When You Have a Story
When you have a story, contact the reporter who would be responsible for writing about it directly. Don’t use press releases.
If you have a relationship with that reporter, you’re already off to the races. If you don’t, just write a strong introduction email.
If you know a reporter at a paper but it’s not the right reporter, ask for a referral.
Make sure your story is truly newsworthy before you send it off. Your story should be unique enough to make heads turn.
After emailing the reporter (or in some cases the editor), follow up with a phone call if you don’t hear back from them within a day or two.
==> Pool with Others to Create an Event
Let’s say you own a pizza shop in Chicago. Alone, you don’t have enough traction to get much media attention.
What you can do is pool together with other pizza shop owners in your area to create an event that IS newsworthy and can get you a lot of coverage.
For instance, you might host a “Thin Crust versus Deep Dish” pizza event. You have five of the best pizza chefs from both sides compete and have a judging panel.
It’ll take a lot of effort to put something like that together, but you’ll get a whole lot of media attention as a result.
==> Help a Reporter Out
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a website where reporters go to find stories. When they need sources, reporters go to HARO.
Use HARO to build up your relationships with reporters. Every once in a while, you’ll even meet a reporter who’s reporting on the exact thing you’re working on. That’s the perfect opportunity for free publicity.
Getting free publicity is all about being proactive and using a little bit of creativity. Build relationships, do newsworthy things and watch the free PR roll in.