One of the things I teach my marketing coaching clients, is the importance of PR (public relations) for your business. But often small business owners, especially start ups, just don’t know where to start.
The other weekend while I was browsing through Instagram, I came across an interesting business based in Sydney called I Do My Own PR, which is run by the very talented Jocelyne Simpson. I love the concept of empowering business owners to do their own PR, because in my marketing coaching sessions, I empower my clients to do their own marketing.
So since our visions aligned, I reached out to Jocelyne and asked her if she would like to feature in the Vivacity Marketing blog, and she very kindly said yes! Read on to find out the questions I asked Jocelyne, and the very useful advice she provided in her answers.
Get your pens and notepads ready and keep reading for some value bombs!
How can small business owners benefit from PR?
It really boils down to two things if you want sales – trust and awareness, and getting covered in the media gives you both.
When customers see that the press has chosen to cover your business over the competition, you’ll find those sales conversations become easier. Let’s be honest, everyone Googles before buying something. I even Googled my husband before going on a date with him!
So if you’ve appeared in the media, then you’ll get that all important backlink that Google rewards, by putting you further up its search page results, and you build credibility in your brand because someone else is talking about you.
It’s getting harder to get noticed in social media these days, so appearing in the media is one way to rise above the noise and clutter, and get ahead of your competition to stand out.
It also proves to those that have supported you, that they’re backing a winner and you’re the real deal!
Where would a small business owner get started?
The most important part is working out if you’re actually ready for PR:
- I know it sounds obvious, but you need a working product or service that you are happy with and that people can actually buy.
- You also need an online presence, especially if that’s your main sales channel.
- Are you ready for customers? Do you have the systems in place to handle a big influx of sales?
Once you know you’re ready, you have two options. You can either employ a PR agency to speak to media for you (that’s if you have a spare $36,000 in the pot for an average retainer of $3,000 a month minimum) or you can do it yourself.
Doing it yourself might sound scary, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. The key is to do it right the first time.
There is a process to approaching the media, but essentially there are three steps you can follow:
- Work out who your ideal customer is, and then think about what they are reading, watching or listening to.
- Then you need to work out how a story about your product or service would fit into those publications or programs. The key is starting not with your product but rather the problem it solves. That’s what the journalist and their audience are really interested in.
- Approach the media with your story. You need to find the right person to take your story to and you need to get their attention.
How can a small business build relationships with local journalists?
The thing to remember is that journalists genuinely want to hear from you, the business owner, directly. No one can match your passion and knowledge for your product and category. And local journalists particularly want to hear from companies pushing the boundaries in their area, so reach out to them and introduce yourself.
Tell them how you got started and what problem your business will solve for locals if you’re just starting out. Or how your local community has rallied behind you and that you’ve achieved some level of success if you’ve already launched.
Like any, relationships with the media take time and nurturing. The best way to do this is to give them good stories, respond quickly to requests and be easy to deal with. The more you do this, the more likely they are to come to you when they want a comment on a story they are writing that relates to your market.
What is the main piece of advice would you give to a business just starting out on obtaining PR?
Ooh that’s a hard one. I’ll give you two!
- Everything hinges on your story angle, so before you approach a journalist with your story idea, put it through the ‘so what’ filter. Would anyone really care about what you’re saying? Does it really affect anyone? Will people really want to hear about it?
- Journalists hate getting emails that have clearly been sent to all and sundry. You need to personalise your emails to each individual contact. You can do this by referencing a story that they’ve run recently that either interested you or is related to your story and why you think it could work for them. By doing this, you’re showing that you follow their work and that you’ve really thought about how your story fits into their publication or program.
Can you tell us about how I Do My Own PR came about, and how our readers can use this service, and learn more?
Well I’ve worked in PR for 20 years now. I’ve handled the PR accounts for everything from Coca-Cola to LEGO to social enterprises and startups. I set up my own PR agency, Good Citizens, six years ago and somehow became a go-to person for small businesses looking for PR advice.
I really wanted to help these businesses but they didn’t have the money to pay my agency to do the work for them. I felt there had to be a better way, so I partnered with an ex-media and content producer to create something that made this advice accessible to everyone.
We describe our business as the IKEA of the PR world but with a twist.
We’re ‘build it yourself’ but at the point at which you start to tear your hair out (and swear if you’re anything like my husband), imagine an expert pops out of the box to show you the right way, saving you both time and sanity. You could say our Do It Almost Yourself PR kits, come with an ‘expert in the box’.
Each kit includes:
- A simple process – it’s proven, it’s online and it’s super easy to follow.
- Expert 1:1 guidance – we know your chances of success massively increase when you have an expert looking over your shoulder.
- The right media contacts – it’s the quality few that matter. We tell people who they are and give them their contact details (that’s a big no-no in the PR agency world).
We’ve been going a year and our users are getting tremendous results, which makes all the hard work worthwhile!
We relaunched our offering a month ago, as we believed we could make it even better, by offering kits:
- For businesses looking to launch, and go from unknown to known.
- For businesses that have already launched, and now need that boost to go from known to success story!
- And we’ll be launching a third product soon for thought leaders.
You can check us out at www.idomyownpr.com, thanks for reading, Jocelyne.
So there you have it readers! PR couldn’t be made any simpler for you. So go and check out Jocelynes website and see the various business kits on offer. Her staff are super friendly and helpful too! I emailed enquiring about the most suitable kit for Vivacity Marketing, at the stage I’m at with my business, and they came back to me with some great recommendations.
Author – Vanessa Geraghty McGann, Principal Marketing Consultant & Owner, Vivacity Marketing.
Helping you build a vibrant business.