Cost-Effective PR Tactics for SMEs

Michelle Cowley-Cunningham

Posted by on 22nd March 2019

Getting your name in the papers is a powerful way to build your brand, raise awareness and attract customers. Earned media is much more credible than advertising and best of all, it’s free.

Unfortunately, that makes it harder to come by. It’s not as simple as placing an order and booking spots, you need to know what it takes to make your story newsworthy.

In that regard, it really helps to have a professional PR agency to help tell your story and package it in a way that will appeal to journalists.

But what if your marketing budget doesn’t stretch to a PR expert. Fear not. You can still make PR work for you. Here are some simple steps you can take to help impress the press…

1. Tell Your Story

People love a good story. Make sure you business has one. Have a clear and uncompromising narrative around the who, what and why of your business. This central theme should run consistently through every news item you pitch.

2. Understand the Landscape

Get to know the media outlets that are important to you and your target audience. Whether it’s the local newspaper or a national TV station, knowing where you want your stories to land is key to an effective PR strategy. Identify the outlets and familiarise yourself with the types of content they run so you can start building press releases that will appeal.

3. Develop your Contacts

Once you’ve identified the outlets, start building relationships with the people who can help get you the coverage you want. Journalists are hungry for content, they’ve got deadlines to meet and word counts to cover. They want good material. Get to know them and the types of story they typically cover. Understanding the types of story they want will make it all the easier when you’ve got something to share. Develop a database and keep track of who’s who and what they want.

4. Perfect your Pitch

A well-crafted press release can be the difference between your story making the final edition and sitting on the cutting room floor. Understand the principles of producing a good press release. Whatever the substance of a story, it’s all about how you package it. From a compelling headline to clear contact information at the end, the goal is not giving the journalist any excuse to pass up on your piece. Here is an excellent article about how you can produce persuasive press releases…

5. Timing is Everything

Understand the news cycle. What are the slow news days? When will the journalist you’re targeting need stories? Can you make your press release topical and link it to the news of the day? Having a handle on when you should release can be just as important as what you release.

6. A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

Another way to increase your chances of getting picked up is by providing high-quality art alongside your story. Put yourself in the shoes of a pictures editor. They are hungry for attractive, visually-interesting images to accompany stories and in an age of online journalism and digital photography, you don’t even need to hire a professional photographer to make your pictures pop. Read our guide to taking awesome photos of your business…

7. Venture into Video

With the rise of online news, video is a key component of a digital output. Professional looking video clips can be an effective way to make your story stand out for some media outlets.

8. Be Consistent

PR isn’t a sure thing. Every story you pitch won’t land but you shouldn’t throw in the towel after your first failed attempt. It’s important to be consistent and to force yourself to come up with a steady stream of newsworthy stories on a regular basis. Develop a schedule and stick to it.

9. Don’t Spam

Any journalist will tell you, the bane of their existence is sifting through poorly-packaged and irrelevant releases that are blasted out to every name on an organisation’s media contacts list. Target specific people with specific stories. Identify the best home for a particular item and give that journalist first refusal. You can do wider releases but try to send stories individually with personalised messages whenever possible. And above all, be appreciative. Reach out and thank journalists directly whenever your name does appear in some positive coverage. It will make them more open to stories in the future.

10. Do It Yourself

So the beautifully-crafted press release you put together and forwarded to relevant journalists didn’t get any bites. Don’t worry. It wasn’t a waste of time. Once you are sure that it’s not getting picked up by one of your target outlets, you can get the story out yourself. Issue the piece across your blog, social media, and free PR wire sites. In the digital age, we all have direct access to online media, use it. 

And there you have it. If you need cost-effective PR routes to market, then these steps can help you get the attention of your target audience and build your brand.

If there still aren’t enough hours in the day or enough capital to generate the brand awareness you crave, then maybe it’s time to invest a little in your PR strategy. Linked Finance can provide fast, affordable business loans to support your PR and marketing. Apply now.

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