Thursday, August 2, 2007

Do-it-yourself PR for Your Business

According to Jason Grant, public relations is like having a messenger service that lets people know about you. This industry veteran has helped businesses, celebrities and socialites get their share of the spotlight for 15 years. He graciously stopped by "Mogulette Central" this week to teach us a few tricks on how to spread the word about our products and services without spending a single dime.

Here's some of his suggestions:
Give discounts or free samples to the media.

Donate your products or services for goody bags at charity events and they'll put you on their press release. That way not only will the guests get to know your company but also whatever media they send their press release to. Choose only the ones that fit with your business.

Follow-up. After your product or service gets mentioned in an article or a TV or radio show, run with the story. Let other outlets know that it's been written to give it added exposure.

Constant repetition is what makes people aware of a product or service.

The difference between advertising and PR: People automatically know that ads are paid for, but with PR they think the editors or reporters have actually researched the market and your product stood out.

Two possible ways to position yourself:
1- As an expert, to talk in general about your field. Introduce your company, what you do and the topics you can address.
2- Come up with a timely angle - editors & producers love this one because you're doing the legwork for them. Remember to pitch differently depending on the publication. For example, if you're a dating coach, on Valentine's Day you might want to send out the following pitches:

For "The View" - How to find out if he's "The One"
For More magazine - Do's and don'ts of dating over 40
For local newspapers, or your local TV morning show - Most romantic places around town to "pop the question"
For Glamour magazine - The new rules for successful online dating

Elements of the press release
Make sure you answer who, what, when, where and how. Include your website, your blog, your 800 number - if you have them-, where your product or service is available (what outlets - on and offline). The more accessible you are to the public the more they'll like your story. If you're only available locally find a national angle you could chat about. Make sure your first paragraph hooks them: what's interesting about you/your business?

Who to pitch
Glance through the magazine or newspaper you'd like to target and find the section that best fits your business. See who writes it and direct the query to them. Say you're launching a line of jewelry - then you would send your pitch to the accessories editor at the NY Times or the "Best Bets" section of New York magazine. Other ways to find the proper person to speak to: look at the masthead in the front of magazines, or simply call the publication's switchboard and ask the operator. Start with local media first. Weekly newspapers, neighborhood circulars. Once you get the hang of it, then devise a citywide, or regional angle, and pitch it to the respective publications. When you feel you're ready, go national.

Make a list of all the possible media outlets that would fit your business, and don't forget websites and blogs. Write a "master" press release and send it out systematically. Or for a $90 fee, PRWeb will send it out to thousands of outlets for you. Very important: after a few days, follow up with a phone call, and keep trying until you get through to the right person.

For more on how to get free publicity, visit The Publicity Hound, where you'll find tons of articles.

If you'd like one-on-one help, Jason is available for PR consultations at very reasonable rates. Email him at

Let's create some buzzzzzz!

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