If you are a small business and looking for the best way to grow your business while considering various options such as advertising versus public relations, you might consider the advantages of PR. As a former journalist I have been on the receiving end of many a
pitch and know what makes an editor or reporter take notice. So here are my first hand recommendations.
Media Coverage & PR is cost effective
Public Relations can be a lot cheaper than paid advertising and an article in the media, can lead to an immediate increase in sales and make your company seem more established than you are.
When a story about your product or service appears in the media, it is perceived differently than if you advertised. That’s because the reader views the article as a third party testimonial written and endorsed by an objective journalist, not a company trying to sell something. So the ‘unpaid coverage’ or ‘earned media’ means a great deal more and carries a lot more credibility to the reader or consumer than a paid ad.
Best way to make PR work for you—Tell a compelling story.
The best way to get noticed through PR is to create a compelling story or story line, that identifies what makes your product or service unique or what need it fulfills that will resonate with the editor or writer. There is no substitute for a good story. There are lots of products and services in the marketplace that may be similar. You need to consider how to bring something new or different enough to the attention of the reader. So look for a problem you solve, a story about the creation of the product that is unique, does your service or product link to a recent activity or story in the news that might provide something an editor can ‘peg’ the story too.
Connect with the media. And the right source
Today, you can directly connect more easily to the media using social media by following reporters that cover your field. Send them a direct message about your story. Read what they’ve previously written. Ensure to target a reporter that is knowledgeable about your area. Nothing irks a reporter more than sending a pitch that isn’t relevant to their beat. You can also position yourself as the go to media expert or specialist in your field. Reporters are always looking for spokespersons with expertise to use as subject experts to quote in stories or provide background information.
Create a well- crafted pitch
Keep your pitch simple and to the point remembering to tie you story back to what makes your product or service different or how it fulfills a need. Back it up with two to three facts to support your opening pitch. Don’t pitch your company, pitch your story! Reporters and editors do not give free publicity to your company. It happens when a story about your product or service that speaks to their readers. For structure, look at how a typical newspaper story is constructed. The headline tells the key message of the story, if there is a second headline or sub head it usually provides a fact to back up the headline. Then the body of the story fills in the details. That’s how you want to structure your media pitch.
Keep it short –two to three paragraphs. Who, what, where, when and why!