How to Start Doing Public Relations Yourself
Okay, you’ve taken the plunge. You want to tell the whole world about your brand, and you want to take the reigns in your own hands and do it yourself.
There’s just one little problem. Where on earth do you start? After all, there’s no Martha Stewart guide book for D.I.Y. public relations.
Unless you’re a mega-celebrity, chances are you don’t have your own PR person. Hiring a PR firm is expensive, and it doesn’t even guarantee success. The amount of money spent can easily outweigh the return of investment.
Even if you can afford your own PR person, you can’t afford not understanding the basic principles of great public relations. That’s something everyone needs to learn. Nowadays, almost everyone is on social media. All it takes is one snapshot, one video or one tweet for a small blunder to go viral.
Know who you’re talking to
Every business has their target market. The same is true for public relations. Before you even begin reaching out, you have to know who you’re targeting and why. Doing this allows you to understand what draws their interest. Listen to the needs of your audience, and pay careful attention to what you can do to help them. Otherwise, people are just going to tune out.
Reach out to influencers.
It’s no secret. People generally trust word-of-mouth more than big advertisements.
Influential people aren’t necessarily more talented or famous than the rest of us. In fact, some of them are just more sociable. Have you ever known someone who seems to know everybody? There’s always that one person who seems to be everybody’s friend of a friend. These types of people are catalysts for social trends.
It’s a ripple-effect. They spread word out to their wide circle, and it grows from there.
Another way of influencing people is through experts. If you own a restaurant, for example, one review from a respected food critic can have a lot of impact.
Connect with people.
Repeat after me. Public relations is about relationships. Okay, you’re probably thinking, ‘Thank you captain obvious. I did not know that.”
But do you see the mistake a lot of people are making?
A lot of people think it’s just about media attention, interviews and press releases. That’s all part of it, but it’s just a small fraction. In fact, all of it is meaningless unless you truly connect people with your message.
Even if it’s about your company, the focus should be on them, and how they can benefit from getting to know your brand. That’s why people’s perceptions matter in public relations. The whole point is to make other people feel good about your brand.
Everyone you meet is connected with someone else. The stronger your ties are the easier it is to bridge the gaps and reach out to more people.
Have something worth buzzing about.
The media wants a good story. Scratch that. Everybody loves a great story, so have something newsworthy to show the press. This means coming up with killer pitches and executing it. Get your foot in the door with a catchy subject line. Be brief yet brilliant.
But don’t just sit around waiting to catch an editor’s attention. You can start your own blog or even guest blog to get the word out.
Remember to follow-up and stay in touch
What happens when you don’t hear back? Be persistent, but don’t overwhelm them with messages. With their busy schedules, your pitch may be the last thing on their minds right now. You have to show some grit and be consistent. Don’t just hope for the perfect timing. You have to make time to follow-up.
If it’s clear that they’re really not interested, get back on your feet and move on. Use it as a learning experience to improve your pitch, and find another channel.