On a past episode of my live marketing show, a viewer asked:
“I’m a consultant with a small budget, I can’t afford a fancy PR firm but I know securing press for my business would be hugely beneficial to bolster my credibility and bring on new clients. How should I go about doing this?”
My clients ask if I can help with PR strategy or if I can secure them press ALL THE TIME.
The short answer is no, this isn’t one of my core services, although if anybody wants some recommendations for KILLER PR folks, let me know because I have suggestions for people I fully stand behind.
Now, getting back to the original question at hand, I can totally empathize with this. Traditional PR firms are really expensive and, in my experience, I find you generally pay for access to their book of connections and STILL need to write your own press release.
So, if you’re going to fork over all that money and still do the labor, you may as well attack it on your own. (Which you can easily do.)
A Free Resource to Get Press for Your Small Business
The best resource I’ve found is HARO or Help a Reporter Out.
Basically, you sign up for this service, ABSOLUTELY free, and you get a daily email with inquiries from the press. Examples of this that I received recently include the following:
Summary: Entrepreneurs & Business Owners: Facebook Groups?
Name: Jonathan Long Entrepreneur.com
Category: Business and Finance
Media Outlet: Entrepreneur.com
Deadline: 7:00 PM EST – 30 September
Query: I’m looking for entrepreneurs and business owners that are in private Facebook groups related to business, marketing, entrepreneurship, etc. What has your experience been? How have they benefited you?
Summary: Financial Adviser to Discuss 401K Loans
Name: Kat Tretina Student Loan Hero
Category: Business and Finance
Media Outlet: Student Loan Hero
Deadline: 7:00 PM EST – 28 September
Query: The article is about whether or not taking out a 401K loan to use a down payment on a home is a wise financial decision. I am looking for a financial adviser or expert to give their perspective on the pros and cons.
Requirements: Must be a financial adviser, professor or other form of expert
Does it work?
One of my clients answered a HARO request and within one day she made it into US News & World Report and was featured as a leading expert on divorce consulting. So, yes, it works and it works well.
How to shift your mentality about press to generate leads to your small business
Now, here’s where we’re going to get REALLY creative and flip your approach to supercharge press and prospect generation.
We all want press. We all want to pitch ourselves to journalists on why we are THE leading thought experts on any one subject.
We will fall all over ourselves to get in contact with them and talk about our business.
Now, wouldn’t it be JUST delightful if you could get your prospects to fall all over themselves to talk to you in the way that they want to talk to journalists? Wouldn’t it be your dream if you got them to open up to you ALL about their business?
Of course, it would.
How to do it
So here’s where I think this is incredibly powerful if you flip the paradigm.
Instead of spending your time chasing press so you can get published in front of your prospects and show them you’re the expert, you should just step in the role of “the press” so they chase you to talk about their business.
This is what I mean:
Let’s say that I wanted to start a business and I sell point of sale systems to small local restaurants.
Well, I could try to get published (read: waste a ton of hours sending out non-newsworthy releases) in Restaurant Magazine or Quick Service and Casual Restaurant News about all the innovative ways my POS system is amazing.
I could create a blog on my company website called “The Successful Restauranter” and interview small and local restaurant owners all over the nation about how they built their business, the problems they face, and trends in the industry.
Most of you have a company blog anyway; why not turn it into THE leading resource for your prospects to read about their industry?
If we look at both of these approaches:
- Chasing down reporters to get in national publications
- Starting your own blog and reach out for interviews from prospects in your field
…Which do you think will yield better results?
The second every time!
Why this formula works
- People love to talk about themselves. If someone had a blog called “Branding for Small Businesses” and they reached out to me to hear about my thoughts about brand strategy and how I built my business, do you think I’m going to say no? No way. It’s the best door opener EVER. Complete flattery.
- You control what gets published. When you go after large publications, you’re trying to connect with reporters getting bombarded by everyone in your industry. The likelihood of getting published is very small compared to the insane amount of work you have to do to get it. The ROI just doesn’t add up. With this approach, you’ll always have content to push. Better yet, it will be content that is very appealing to your target audience.
- You establish yourself as neutral. You know why press is so great for your business? Because it’s third party credibility. Everyone trusts the press. If you make your blog THE gold standard in your prospect’s industry, then you become the credible source, and everyone wants to do business with the credible source.
Recap steps: How to take action and secure press and prospects
- Join Help a Reporter Out from the resource side and reply to inquiries from reporters.
- Create a blog for your prospect’s industry. If you serve HR Directors, call it HR Director Report. If you serve Accounting Firms, call it Accounting Firm Forum.
- Reach out to your prospects with the intention of giving them a platform to share their story. Ask them questions and genuinely care about what they are saying. Ask them all the things you’d ask them in a prospect qualification meeting except for here’s the thing, you’re interviewing them so their guard is down now.
If you do that, you will increase your network of prospects and your credibility with them. I’m not a big fan of waiting for things to happen to me. If you flip the script and actually CREATE press for your prospects instead of hoping to *just maybe* earn press for your business, you get publicity and you get the trust factor.
DONE and DONE.
Prefer to watch instead of read? Here’s the recording from the live Facebook webcast:
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