When it comes to public relations, it can seem difficult to think of what stories and messages to get out there. What you must know is that it shouldn’t be that hard. If you’re doing good work, you’ll naturally have good stories to share. Getting them out there is where it becomes a little difficult.
One of the best ways to get your company’s stories out – and to build excellent exposure for your company – is to get the media to cover your business for free. That’s the essence of great public relations.
Problem is, just as with any business endeavor, good public relations requires a good strategy. You could have the best business story in the history of the world, but if you don’t share it with the right outlet, it will never get off the ground!
So how do you find free public relations with the right people?
Find a Fit that Takes Focus
When you think about where to sell your story, you need to focus your public relations efforts on the media outlets that will give you the most significant direct benefits.
To sharpen your focus, ask yourself these questions:
- Where would you like to be covered?
- What trade journals do my clients read?
- What media outlets would give maximum exposure to your products, services, or corporate culture?
- Why are you trying to land public relations?
Answering these questions will help you focus and will help you define the right organizations to target in your campaign. Once you know the answers to those questions, you’re ready to start mapping out your public relations strategy.
Make a Potential Public Relations List
Make a list of all the media outlets you want to cover your company. Think about TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, websites, blogs, newsletters, trade journals, community papers, and any other form of media! Ask your employees for ideas as well. They may know about exciting media outlets that you’ve never heard of that’d be perfect for public relations.
You can even send some simple surveys out to your customers and potential customers using free tools like SurveyMonkey. Ask them what media outlets they read, watch, or listen to often. Then, target the ones that are closely related to your business angle. If that’s what your current customers read, then that’s also what the type of people that would be interested in your product or service would read.
Next, go online and grab free lists of the top newspapers and magazines by circulation, top blogs by readers, top social media profiles by followers, and so on. Once you have those lists, have your team pick five from each category and stay hyper-focused only on those ones. Resist the urge to just say that they’d all be good. You must only pick the ones that will be great!
Zero in on the Writers
Whatever you do, don’t waste your focus on contacting editors. Editors are well versed in the word “no.” They are not the ones who are in the business of digging up new stories. They are in the business of editing every approved idea and rejecting most of the others. Instead, you must zero in on the writers.
The key to any public relations is to find the best writers and journalists within each of your selected media outlets and to make sure they specialize in your area of expertise. For instance, someone who covers oil and gas companies won’t write about a medical supply company. Trying to contact them, no matter how successful their stories are, is a waste of your time. You must ask yourself:
- Who covers your industry?
- Who covers your competitors?
- Who has covered similar companies in other industries?
All of those people can write about you! So, reach out to them and them alone.
Make Relentless Contact
Contact information for writers, journalists, and photographers can be obtained through services like PR Newswire’s MEDIAtlas or Cision-Point’s Media Database. You can also often find contact information quickly on media outlets’ websites. Nowadays, you can even make contact with them through social media like Instagram and Facebook.
If all that fails, you can find someone by entering the person’s name, company, and the word “phone” or “address” into an online search engine. In a worst-case scenario, you can always call the main switchboard of the writer’s office and ask for the person by name.
“Securing free PR means talking about your ideas with content producers for magazines, websites, and television programs. You have to sell them on it. Why would they want to listen? Simple: because great content means it’s easier to sell ads, and ad sales mean profit.” – COO Alliance
By having laser focus when it comes to your public relations strategy, you’ll get your story into the right hands and have exponentially higher chances of getting your story covered. All it takes is a little time of effort, which is totally worthwhile.
If your stories are good, people writing for the right industries will want to write about them. With stories people want to write about, you don’t have to spend a dime getting your name out there. That is free public relations.
Have you ever had any wildly successful stories that were shared? Let us know in the comments below. If you have questions or would like more information, I’d be happy to help. Please send us an email, and someone from my team will get in touch with you!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2018 and has been edited for accuracy and comprehensiveness.