Four Tips To Build A Brand For Your Start-up

In the past we have provided some PR tips for those first-time entrepreneurs who have just launched their start up. On that post we discussed the importance of making sure that your branding, public relations and marketing efforts are coordinated and get off with a great start. While we have already covered the PR section, here are some tips that can help you build a strong brand for your start up:

1) HAVE A CLEAR IDEA OF WHAT BRANDING IS AND WHAT IT DOES

When it comes to creating a brand, you are defining the identity of your start up both for yourself and those you work with and an external audience composed by potential collaborators, clients, providers and competitors. This goes beyond picking up colors and coming up with a nice logo. It requires you and your team reach an agreement on what is the core of your business and which values represent it. This will work as a stepping stone for your business strategies, marketing and PR.

2) COME UP WITH A (DISTINCTIVE) VOICE

There may be many entrepreneurs launching their business as you are. You might be targeting the same market and even offering the same services. What makes yours different? Having already defined a strong identity, it should be easier to come up with a way to present your business in a distinctive way. Ideally, this will imply that your business has a unique way to do things, but it can also have other aesthetic traits, such as using a particular font type or addressing your audience in a certain way.

3) DON’T BE A COPYCAT

Many startups try to adjust their branding practices from those used by larger corporations. Not only might this bring you legal issues, but it really does not work. A new business is trying to break the ice and needs to be established as having that something different that makes it stand out. What’s unique about your coffee shop in a city filled with them? Make it known! Coming up with a strategy of your own might mean a lot of work and long hours, but the results will be true to your business and your goal.

4) HIRE AN EXPERT

Being an entrepreneur usually means you handle a great deal of tasks by yourself. You are building a creation from scratch, a business nothing but with your own ideas, goals and values. And while having that much responsibility can be thrilling, there are things you might not know how to do properly, especially if they have no relation to your field of expertise. If possible, getting an expert or a firm to manage branding, marketing and PR for your business is a clever choice, even more so when you do it at the early stages of your start-up so they can help establish your business identity in a successful way.

Media Relations: 5 Tips To Help Reach The Right People

When it comes to mastering the art of media relations, there is nothing as important as being able to reach the right people. No matter what your message is, if you aren’t able to get that message to the right individuals, it won’t matter. With this in mind, here are five easy things that you can do to make sure that all of your media messages are always reaching the right audience.

Know Your Target Audience

Before you worry about getting your article in the hands of the right reporters and media pros, you need to make sure that you are clear on your message and who that message is reaching. One of the most important and most basic components of marketing is knowing who your target audience is and what they are looking for. Don’t forget to start with this. If you don’t know who you are speaking to and who you are relating to, your message will never find success.

Reach Out To The Right People

Make a comprehensive list of the right reporters that actually report on stories related to your industry or the message you are looking to deliver. You can find contact information online, or you can try to reach out on social media. Start following the right reporters on Twitter and Facebook, comment on their posts, and start developing a relationship with them. It can go a long way in helping foster an important relationship with these media contacts.

Know Your Reporters Writing Style And What They Like To Write About

Before you reach out to reporters, make sure you know what they like to write about and what their writing style is, including what they like to write about. You need to know if that writer enjoys writing about and what their style is. If what you are pitching doesn’t fit with their normal topic or writing style, then you won’t have a very good chance of getting them to respond to your message.

Research Past Stories

Do your research before you formulate your pitch and reach out to different writers. Look at similar past stories. What types of stories are getting picked up? What types of messages or angles are writers looking for? The more you know about the type of stories that are getting media traction the better off you will be. Use this research to not only find the right journalist to cover your story but to pick a specific angle that will actually appeal to that reporter.

Customize Your Pitch

When you are finally ready to send out a pitch, make sure you customize that pitch and that message specifically to the reporter you are trying to reach. Write your pitch directly to that individual and customize the message. Make it personal, write it directly to that person and make sure that you make it clear that you know their work and know their unique style.

Keep these five tips in mind as you start to enhance your media efforts. They may be just what you need in order to make certain you are reaching the right audience.

The Ultimate Public Relations Strategy Guide

Growing Your Business With A Public Relations Strategy

A successful public relations strategy has long been a go-to growth hack for marketers. This is simply because a public relations strategy executed well generates leverage. It allows you to reach a significantly large audience across many different platforms for a fraction of what it would cost to buy equivalent advertising space. Whether you execute a public relations strategy in-house or you decide to hire an agency, the cost will still be far less than the cost of buying traditional advertising in a high profile national news outlet.

The attention generated by a public relations strategy is also more impactful than the same amount of views generated through paid advertising. The reason for this is because organic press coverage typically carries more weight than its readers than paid advertisements in the same publication. In other words, being covered in the news lends a degree of credibility and trust for your brand that paid advertising cannot create.

Lastly, a successful public relations strategy is a growth channel that continues to pay dividends in perpetuity. While a paid advertisement will yield attention and web traffic during the period that you paid for it to run, news coverage remains on the internet forever. It also tends to rank well on search engines. So the coverage you receive in a news outlet will continue to send you new traffic and attention for a long time after its initial publication. This is a big factor to consider when exploring a public relations strategy for your brand. While a short-term jump in business is always great, creating channels that will drive long-term sustainable results and also complement your other areas of digital marketing such as due to the backlinks generated by media coverage is a very important factor for sustainable growth in a business.

So, Do I Need A Public Relations Strategy?

If you are a small to mid-sized company, you likely often debate with your team what PR efforts you should be undertaking, if any, and how much of your marketing budget you would be justified in spending on those efforts. You wouldn’t be alone in this dilemma as many other entrepreneurs struggle with the same question. There are many reasons that make public relations seem more intimidating than other marketing channels such as paid advertising, direct response and even social media. But the truth is, this is also the very same reason why public relations is becoming more important for businesses than ever before. I’ll explain why.

The past five years have seen an explosion in business spending in many areas of digital marketing such as social media advertising, pay-per-click advertising and even native content. Consequently, consumers are also being bombarded with more paid advertising than ever before. While paid advertising is, of course, an effective marketing channel, this advertising overwhelm for consumers has also had some side-effects. Chiefly, many consumers are gradually becoming numb to a majority of the ads they see each day and for some, (especially millennials and Gen Z) they are beginning to view paid advertising as less genuine.

As a result of all of these factors, what is becoming more clear than ever is that consumers (as well as B2B buyers) are increasingly looking for third-party information sources (blogs, news articles, review sites) to inform their purchasing decisions, even if it is after they have already learned about a product through a paid advertisement.

Consider these statistics:

  • 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information from articles versus advertisements. (Content Marketing Institute)

  • 70% of consumers prefer to get to know a company through articles versus advertisements. (Content Marketing Institute)

  • Leads from articles have a 14.6% close rate versus outbound leads which have a 1.7% close rate. (imFORZA)

What does this tell us? It simply means that buyers (personal and business) want to collect information from a variety of sources when doing due diligence on your product. If the only information that they find during an online search is paid advertising and your own company blog, this gives your product less credibility than your other competitors who perhaps might have product reviews on industry blogs or even features in major news outlets. If you’re going to compete and succeed in today’s ad-saturated environment, you need the credibility of trustworthy third-party sources talking about your brand.

This is what a well-executed public relations campaign for the purpose media coverage can do: get media, relevant bloggers, and social media influencers talking about your products so that you reach new audiences and establish credibility with prospects. In the rest of this post, we will look at how to create a public relations strategy that achieves that.

What is a Good Public Relations Strategy?

We have just discussed what the outcome of a public relations campaign should be in its simplest form: generating positive media coverage that drives awareness and sales for your brand or product. So now we will look at what a good public relations strategy for achieving that goal would look like.

At its very core, a good public relations strategy focuses on two elements. The first is telling a compelling story. The second is cultivating relationships that spread that story. Without both of these, you do not have an effective media strategy. This post is dedicated to helping you develop both of those within the framework of a goal-focused strategy and then implementing it. But first, we should also look at what a bad public relations strategy (as it pertains to media relations) would look like.

What is a Bad Public Relations Strategy?

Conversely, bad public relations, as you might guess, focuses on securing immediate results at the cost of the quality of your story (and sometimes even the truth) and at the cost of the relationships with media. Promoting stories about your brand or product that are overly-promotional or spammy and provide no value to readers and then using pressure tactics and mass-emails (known in the industry as “spray and pray”) will burn and future relationships you could be cultivating with the media and could even lead to some very unwelcome negative publicity. Avoid short-term-focused tactics such as these and focus on building a story and relationships that will create long-term success for your brand and pay dividends for a long time.

The Three Primary Tools of Media Relations:

Media Pitch – The media pitch is the tool that you will be using the majority of the time in a typical public relations campaign. Simply put, a pitch is a brief email generally sent to reporters, editors or producers telling them about your story or announcement and asking whether they would like to interview you. Since this guide focuses on the media relations aspect of a public relations strategy, we will be going into more depth later in this guide about exactly how to write a successful media pitch.

Press Release – A press release can be considered a longer-form version of a media pitch. It is typically a 1-2 page document giving an in-depth summary of your news story as well as background information about the subject organization or person. The most common use for press releases in the PR industry today is for publication on a company’s website or a newswire for the purpose of creating a resource should reporters, investors or other parties wish to refer to it. Press releases are less and less commonly used for the purpose of directly securing media coverage simply because reporters now receive so many of them each day, they are inundated! Most reporters now prefer a shorter-form media pitch that gets straight to the point and allowing them to follow up quickly if they would like more information. Media pitches are also much more personalized than press releases and thus increase your likelihood of building rapport with a member of the media. Here is a more in-depth guide on writing a press release, if you are interested.

Media Advisory – The third major tool is called a media advisory. Media advisories are very short announcements sent to reporters (typically via email) to announce an event. Most commonly media advisories are used to announce and invite reporters to a press conference or briefing.

Formulating Your Public Relations Strategy

As with any marketing initiative, the first step to a successful public relations strategy is planning and putting that plan on paper for clarity, team buy-in, and to track your progress. A basic public relations strategy has the following sections:

Goal:

Every plan needs to have a goal such that everybody knows what success looks like for this initiative. Goals should be clear, measurable, and of course, meaningful. In the public relations realm, many companies set a goal such as being featured on a particular media outlet. But in reality, media coverage should not be the ultimate end-goal; it should be a strategy that achieves some more meaningful for your company, such as growing revenue, increasing brand awareness (which can be measured through metrics such as share of voice) or increasing traffic to your website.

Your goal should be measurable. Do not set a goal as vague as “increase sales”. A more measurable and clear goal would be “increase sales by 10% by the end of the current fiscal year”. This gives you a very clear target that anybody can review to see if success was reached.

Strategy:

Now that we have set a goal, we need a strategy for how we are going to get there. The strategy is oftentimes an overview of the marketing channels you are going to use to reach your goal, how you will use them and what the desired outcome will be.

For example, if your goal is to grow traffic to your website by 20% this year, an effective strategy for that could be securing a number of product features and reviews on industry blogs so that you will have a high click-through rate for sending those readers back to your website. Another strategy could be securing a feature story about the founder of your company in a major national newspaper, such as the New York Times.

The key to fleshing out your strategy is to identify these elements:

What is your message?

This is the story you are going to tell the media about your company. Remember, it needs to be compelling and not simply a sales pitch to buy your product. Every company has something unique about it that makes for an interesting story that people will want to read. Perhaps your founder had a fascinating journey to success when starting the company. Perhaps there is something quirky about your company culture. Maybe even you have a unique success story about one of your customers that should be shared (with the customer’s permission, of course!).

Who is your audience?

Your audience is the end-reader you want to tell your story to. For many companies’ public relations plan, their audience is customers and potential customers. However, it can also be groups such as your local community, industry peers, investors, and even government regulators. Identify who your audience is and their demographics.

What are the best media outlets for reaching that audience?

With your audience identified, you will now define which media outlets you should target for potential press coverage in order to reach your audience. The key is to target the media outlets that your audience consumes. For example, if your target audience is c-suite executives, you may target outlets such as Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. If your target audience consists of homeowners who may want to renovate, you might target Better Homes and Garden magazine.

A common question is how many media outlets to target. While this answer varies widely based on the niche you are in (some niches have 10x more media outlets than others), you should strive to identify as many as you can across digital, print, television, radio and even podcast mediums. The more media you can target (that are relevant, of course) the better your chances of securing coverage.

Which reporters at those media outlets are the best to contact (and what is their contact info)?

The next element we look at is the specific writers, reporters, and editors that we need to cultivate a relationship with at each outlet in order to secure coverage. This is a very important part of the process because choosing the wrong media contacts could derail your campaign. Here is how to go about identifying the right contacts:

  • There are tools that help expedite the process. Using a tool such as MuckRack or Cision (later in this post we go over a full menu of tools) will help you quickly pull up a list of all the contacts who work for a particular media outlet and what they each cover along with their contact info. Using one of these tools will certainly save you a lot of time; however, even if you do use them, we still recommend following the next steps listed here.
  • Visit the websites of each media outlet on your target list and find articles related to your industry or niche. Chances are the reporters writing these articles cover topics that are somewhat similar to yours. It’s a good idea to find at least a couple contacts on each site using this method to form a rough list of who covers your topic area.
  • Now it’s time to narrow down your list of reporters at each outlet to the best one or two that you should reach out to. Read extensive amounts of coverage written by each media contact on your list. This is very important because it will teach you a lot about the individual preferences of each reporter and give you an in-depth look at exactly what they like to cover.

Note: many reporters have very specific coverage areas. Just because their title is listed as “Technology Reporter” on their profile page does not mean that they will be interested in your drone startup, for example. A deeper dive into reading their most recent articles may reveal that they generally only cover B2B software. So reaching out to them as your primary contact for that outlet would be a total waste of your time and theirs. This is why this part of the process is so important. Invest the time into making sure that your contacts not only coverage your topic area, but also are interested in your specific niche.

  • The last tactic you can use to add additional reporters to your radar or when having difficulty finding contacts covering a specific topic is to utilize Google News searches. It sounds basic, but it is actually a very effective tool for discovering the most recent reporters covering a very particular topic.

Choose a keyword that would best describe your niche and search for it using Google’s News tab. There is an option to filter the results by time frame. Filtering by past 24 hours, the past week, or past month are usually most effective for finding reporters who may be immediately interested in your story.

For less-covered niches, the past few months is also typically effective for your search. Doing this filters out any very old articles whom the author of which may no longer be covering that space or may not even be working for that news outlet any longer.

Tactics:

The tactics section of your plan is where you are going to outline the nitty-gritty of your PR efforts. You’ll spell out the specific actions you are going to take, step by step when implementing your plan. Ideally, you will also assign a timeline or deadline for each tactic as well in order to create accountability and urgency. Because you want to be as specific as possible in this section when it comes to spelling out specific actions that need to be taken, we typically use bullet points to create chronologically ordered to-do items. If you have multiple team members implementing the plan, it is also wise to list the name of each person that each task is assigned to.

For example:

  • Create an email pitch about our latest product launch. (Date, Assignee)

  • Adapt and send the pitch to each media contact on our target list individually. (Date, Assignee)

  • Follow up on pitches sent. (Date, Assignee)

Create action items for every step you will need to implement for each part of your plan. If your plan consists of media outreach, publishing a press release online and also creating a series of social media posts, document the step-by-step for each of these initiatives.

Target Media Outlets:

We have previously discussed how to research the appropriate media outlets and also the contacts at each of those outlets to whom to send your pitch. Documenting the full list of contacts here below your tactics will allow you to share the list across your team (thus avoiding duplicating pitches) and also to continue adding to the list perhaps as you discover new contacts who are also suitable.

You can download a free PR plan template to see what all of this looks like right here.

Executing Your Public Relations Strategy: The Art Of Pitching

Once your public relations strategy is complete, it is time to execute. The first step of executing is to write the media pitch that you are going to send to reporters. We will go over that here.

How to Write a Pitch

A media pitch sent via email has five major components:

  • Subject Line: Your subject line should be as short as possible and compelling. Ideally it will say something about the root of your news story that will grab the reporter’s attention. For example, if I were a health coach and I were pitching a story about why consuming too much red meat is dangerous, my subject line might say “3 Unexpected Risks of Eating Red Meat 3x This Week”.

  • Greeting: The greeting may sound simple enough that it does not require much explanation, but there are actually certain greetings that convert better than others. We have found that using “Hi (First Name)” converts far better than using simply “Hi,” or other variations such as “Hey” or “Dear”.

  • The Hook: The “hook” is the meat of your media pitch. This should come right after your greeting and should immediately present the main premise of your story in the most compelling way possible.

There is a common expression in the PR industry called “don’t bury the lede”. The “lede” is a journalism term referring to the most important part of the story. A common mistake that people make when pitching a story is starting off their pitch with less important information and taking too long to get to the heart of the story. The key is to create a 2-4 sentence hook that immediately tells the reporter the relevant parts of the who, what, when, where and why of the story. You can save the background information for the follow-up conversation.

  • Bio: In a new paragraph below the hook, we have found it is best to add 2-3 sentences that give credibility to the person or organization that the story is about. In order to successfully secure media coverage, you not only need a good story, but you also need a credible source.

For example, you may be pitching a story about insight on a new industry trend. But if the organization or person that you are presenting as the expert to be interviewed for the story lacks the credibility to speak on that topic, it decreases your chances of the reporter wanting to interview you.

So use this section to give 2-3 sentences (any longer than four sentences will come across as excessive) that powerfully demonstrate why the source is the most credible source to speak on the topic. Any awards, recognitions, or other achievements that the organization has earned are great points to mention here.

  • Call-to-Action (CTA): The final section of your media pitch is where you need to elicit a response from the press. This is called a “call-to-action”. What it should look like is one sentence (the shorter the better) that asks a reporter whether they would like to take action on your story (typically in the form of an interview). Most calls-to-action are some variation of: “Would you be interested in interviewing XYZ about….”

  • Lastly, do not forget to sign your name!

You now have your first media pitch draft ready to send. Keep in mind that pitching the media is never an exact science. While you may think your pitch is persuasive, in reality, it may take several re-writes before you actually start to get responses. So do not be discouraged by an immediate lack of response. With that in mind, we will move to the next step of sending the pitch.

Pitching Etiquette

As a reminder, reporters receive many pitches per day. Many. Many reporters have noted that they receive upwards of 500 or even more than 1,000 pitches per day depending on the outlet they work for. So knowing that, it makes sense to adhere to a couple best practices that give your pitch the best chances of being opened and not ignored. Here are a few:

  • Do NOT mass email. This should be self-explanatory. Reporters hate mass emails. Take the time to send individualized pitches and to alter them up a bit to speak to that specific reporter.

  • Avoid attachments when possible. Reporters do not like opening attachments. If you need to send a document/video/photo, create a link to it.

  • Ensure that there are ZERO spelling and grammar mistakes before sending a pitch.

  • Make sure that your pitch is addressed to the correct reporter and spell their name correctly! You have no idea how often this happens.

  • Do not “bury the lede”. See above on  “How to Write a Pitch” if you need a refresher on this.

  • Space out pitches that are sent to reporters at the same outlets. Do not pitch five reporters at the same outlet all at the same time. If more than one of them decide to bring the story to their editor to get it cleared before responding to you, it is going to make them look bad in front of their boss. This will not help you with building rapport with reporters. Give a reporter a reasonable amount of time (such as a few days) to respond before moving on to another reporter at the same outlet.

  • Pitch consistently. Pitching the media is similar to sales in that you often have to endure a lot of “no’s” before getting to a yes. So do not be discouraged by rejection and do not stop your efforts after just a week or even a month of unsuccessful outreach. Continue to tweak your story ideas and reach out to new reporters.

The Follow-Up

You have written a pitch. You have also sent it to your list of media contacts. What happens next? Well, you may end up hearing back from a reporter who would like to interview you and write a story. Fantastic! However, there is also a very good chance you may not. Which means you will need to plan to follow-up with each of them.

Do not be discouraged by this. In fact, a full 80% of successful media pick-ups actually happen after the follow-up. Which means that making the effort to follow-up on every single pitch that you send is essential and if you do not, you are likely leaving opportunities on the table.

When to follow-up? Typically two days after the initial pitch being sent it the best time to follow up.

How many times to follow-up? In our experience, following up once is usually enough to establish whether a reporter is interested in a story. If they are interested, they will get back to you. If they aren’t, and you continue to follow-up repeatedly, you risk alienating a reporter that you could always just send a new story to in the future.

What to say in a follow-up? Follow-up emails should be very short and very simple. Through years of testing, we have learned that the best follow-up emails are one sentence or two at most. Here is an example of what a follow-up might say:

Hi (First Name),

Do you have any interest in interviewing (Name)?

Best,

That’s it. Simple and fast. Plus, if the reporter wants to jog their memory about what your pitch was about, they will be able to refer to your prior email below.

Tracking Your Public Relations Strategy Success

Now that you are actively reaching out to reporters, building media relationships, and eventually – generating news coverage about your organization, the next step is to be tracking your efforts. There are two primary forms of tracking that you will find helpful to use during your campaign:

Pitch Log: Your pitch log is where you will make notes of each reporter you pitch, what story you pitch them, and the dates of both the initial pitch and the follow-up. Ideally, this document should be a spreadsheet and it may look like this:

The pitch log will allow you to remember exactly who you pitched and when to ensure that each reporter you have pitched is followed up with and help you with calculating a conversion rate for how many of your pitches turned into interviews or when it might be time to test a new story angle if the original one isn’t gaining training.

Media Report: The second document for tracking your public relations campaign will be where you track media coverage once it goes live. Each organization likes to track different metrics about their media coverage based on their specific goals; however, we recommend keeping a document that tracks at least the following:

  • A link to each media placement.

  • The date it was published.

  • The contact who wrote it.

  • How many social shares it received (see tools below for tracking this).

Maintaining this record for each of your media placements will allow you to have a thorough record of coverage you received along with a timeline and a broad overview of how it performed on platforms such as social media. Many other organizations also go on to track metrics such as traffic driven from the article, how well the article ranks on search engines for targeted keywords, and even whether the backlinks in the article are do-follow or no-follow. Customize this to your goals and objectives.

Helpful PR Tools:

There are many tools and software available that help makes it easier to run a successful public relations campaign. Whether it’s assistance with researching and compiling media lists, tracking the success of coverage once it’s published, or monitoring the news for mentions of your brand, here are a couple of the most important tools that we like to use. You can also see our more comprehensive review of top PR tools here.

  • Cision: Our favorite tool for researching reporters. Cision has one of the largest databases of reporters for almost every niche.

  • MuckRack: Another fantastic tool for researching and building relationships with reporters.

  • Google Alerts: A free one and a good one. Google Alerts is still one of the best tools for being quickly notified when your brand name is mentioned in a news article. We highly recommend setting this up even if you are using other media monitors.

  • CoverageBook: CoverageBook is a PR reporting tool. It measures the performance of media placements you have secured. We have primarily found this tool useful for getting accurate and inexpensive data on social sharing of media placements.

Bringing It All Together

We have covered a lot of ground here from the definitions of the basic tools using for getting media coverage (media pitches, press releases, media advisories) to how to build out an entire public relations strategy for generating media coverage to even how to pitch the press and get interviewed. As with any marketing strategy, it takes some testing and tweaking to perfect this and gain momentum. But with consistency and a well-thought-out, powerful story, a public relations strategy can be one of the most powerful drivers of growth for a business.

If you have any additional questions about creating your strategy or how to go about any of the processes described here, do not hesitate to reach out to us. We would be happy to advise on further best practices.

 

Want To Use Our PR Strategy Template?

Why Local News Coverage Is So Important

When it comes to building your brand and standing out in the market, so many CEOs only focus on the big picture and on the national coverage. While this is important, it isn’t everything. In fact, most business owners are ignoring one of the most important types of coverage that there is; local coverage. It is important to never miss the opportunity to speak with local journalists or to take advantage of local media coverage, and here are five of the main reasons why.

Local Tv Producers Are Actually Very Well Connected

There is a really big misconception about the role that local news producers tend to play in today’s fast-paced media world. Chances are these individuals are actually some of the best contacts you can make if you want to start getting traction at a national level. You never know when that great relationship you built with a local producer can end up being a great relationship with an established news contact. 

Local News Experience Can Help You Build Your Media Experience

If you want a national news organization to put you on air and you have never been on television before, chances are they are going to be hesitant about how you will perform. After all, it is very important for national news producers to have a quality program and this means quality guests. If you have a bunch of local news appearances on your resume, it will only help showcase the media experience that you have and prove to national producers that you have what it takes to be poised and professional on-air and to handle any issues that may arise. 

Many Times National News Outlets Simply Take Local News Stories And Re-tell Them

In fact, this is often one of the best ways to get national coverage for the first time. If you are on air with the right story and the right angle on your local news outlet and the right national producer sees it, it can easily be your foot in the door to the country-wide coverage you have been looking for.

You Can Gain Credibility For Free

Getting coverage from your local news outlet can start helping you gain credibility in your industry, even if it is only in your local market. The best part? You can gain that credibility for free. There are so many people who will end up paying for an on-air segment because they can’t get on the news. Don’t waste your money, when you can usually get local coverage for free. 

Local News Still Can Still Help You Reach Lots Of People

The great thing about local news is that it is actually one of the fastest ways that you can reach tens of thousands of people. Trying to stand out in the national market without any experience, will not gain you this type of recognition. Plus, local news channels will still publish their stories online, meaning you are not only getting on-air recognition but building your online portfolio as well.

Keep these tips in mind whenever you consider doing local news spots. They may not seem like the most glamorous or headline-grabbing appearances, but they can really go a long way in helping you build your brand and your reputation in the market.

 

4 Ways PR Can Help Your SEO Campaign

PR and SEO go hand-in-hand, and an effective public relations strategy can play a major role in the success of your search engine optimization efforts. The entire digital ecosystem is constantly evolving, and today, more than ever, PR has a direct impact on SEO.

High quality content and outreach is mandatory for a successful SEO campaign, which is exactly what PR is built around. PR has its own strategy and direct benefits, but when you understand how it also impacts the success of your business in Google’s organic search results, it helps you realize just how important — and mandatory — it is.

Here are four examples of how PR can help your SEO campaign, directly contributing to more organic exposure and website traffic

1. EARN HIGH QUALITY BACKLINKS.

Backlinks have always been, and will continue to be, the number one ‘signal’ that Google’s algorithm uses to determine where your website shows up in the organic search results for keywords and search phrases relevant to the content on your pages.

There are hundreds of factors, but links are still the biggest contributor, although the types of links that Google loves has most certainly evolved over the years, and this is where PR comes into play.

It’s no longer about quantity when it comes to links — it’s all about quality. The most desired links are from high quality websites and publications, and these are not links that you can simply buy; they must be earned, and a well-executed PR strategy can help you secure the most desirable links within your industry.

2. DOMINATE THE SERPS FOR YOUR BRAND NAME AND KEYWORDS.

PR campaigns are designed to get publications talking about you and/or your business. When done successfully this results in several placements and mentions on high-authority outlets. The content on these authority-leading websites typically ranks high in the organic search results, which helps fill the top with content related to you and your business.

When someone is searching for your or your business and they see your brand name on top outlets it paints a very positive picture and helps to instill consumer confidence almost immediately.

Filling up the top of the search results page with content that you essentially control is also a very good strategy for brand protection in the event that an upset customer or a competitor writes something negative online.

3. LEVERAGE HIGH AUTHORITY WEBSITES TO RANK FOR KEYWORDS YOUR WEBSITE WON’T RANK FOR.

Ranking your website for specific keywords is sometimes very difficult, due to major players like Amazon, Apple or Walmart dominating the top spots. While you may not be able to reach the top on your own website, you can often leverage the authority of PR targets to rank on top and then use that placement to drive traffic back to your website.

When the PR effort is executed with SEO in mind, the article titles and content can be designed to target specific keywords and search queries that you want your brand to pull traffic from.

4. TRIGGER MORE BRAND SEARCH QUERIES — WHICH IS BENEFICIAL FOR GOOGLE’S ALGORITHM.

PR is designed to create buzz for your brand, and when done correctly it results in more people searching for more information. When you land a placement via PR, it puts your brand in front of a new audience. If the piece is done well, readers become interested in learning more and perform searches for more information.

These brand search queries are highly beneficial, as Google sees this as a sign of brand popularity, and begins to place more weight on your website, when determining where your content will show in the results. If two websites have similar authority and similar content, Google is going to display the one with more brand search queries in the higher position, as it assumes it’s what its users wants to see.

Best Tools For Measuring And Improving Your PR Coverage

Every marketer knows that the key to any public relations campaign is the human touch. But the reality of the industry is that we need the help of innovative technology to take your public relations strategy to the next level. From media outreach tools to advanced reporting, I’ve compiled my top nine tools for improving and measuring your PR coverage.

CISION

Cision is a holistic public relations management tool. Its platform allows PR professionals to identify influencers, create and track campaigns, and automate reports and analytics. One of its most prominent features is the Influencer Search tool, which enables users to search for influencers, decision-makers, and media contacts from media outlets all over the globe. You can pinpoint these contacts through filters such as contact topic, demographic area, outlet type, and more.

MUCK RACK

A cheaper “all-inclusive” PR management tool, Muck Rack is another great option for PR professionals to keep all of their public relations campaign elements in one place. A key feature of Muck Rack being the ability to create a profile as a contributor to showcase content you have written on multiple platforms.

GOOGLE ALERTS

Google Alerts is a “hidden gem” functionality within the Google G-Suite, allowing you to set up personalized notifications sent directly to your inbox notifying you of trends, interesting topics, or really anything on the internet. For example, you can set up an alert for your clients, which will notify you when the media is talking about them so you can be in the known of any buzz. You can also set up an alert for a trending topic or story. This allows you to take control of your newsfeed and have curated news delivered straight to your inbox.

MELTWATER

MeltWater is one of the most intelligent PR platforms on the market. What sets MeltWater is  AI-driven insights. They’re one of the first providers on the market to offer AI-driven media intelligence, ensuring you are always on top of the latest news and trends pertaining to your clients, including tracking impact and sentiment analysis in real time.

COVERAGEBOOK

CoverageBook is a simplified PR reporting tool. It allows you to just copy and paste the links of media placements into the platform, and CoverageBook compiles a visually appealing report that displays valuable metrics including social media shares, estimated coverage views, average domain authority, just to name a few. This tool is essential for agencies who want simplified, accurate reporting for any type of PR coverage, whether it be online or print.

GRAMMARLY

An essential tool for any writer, Grammarly is a virtual writing assistant. This AI-powered product allows you to upload any document or piece of writing, and Grammarly takes a look at it, providing specific recommendations for improvement including spelling errors, plagiarism-check, and word/grammar suggestions. No piece of content, article, or social media posts at Fifth Avenue Brands gets published without the help of Grammarly.

GOOGLE ANALYTICS

As a PR professional, chances are you’ve heard of Google Analytics. But are you using it to help measure the impact of your PR campaigns? Set up correctly, Google Analytics allows you to track the number of website or landing page visits a particular media placements yields. This is essential when determining the reach and impact of each media placement.

TRENDKITE

TrendKite is an intelligent communications platform, focused on earned media. Their PR Attribution capability helps PR pros understand content and publications that are driving the most traffic. This enables you to pivot your strategy to focus on the most powerful publications you should be honing in on for future strategy.

YESWARE

Your own personal “inbox assistant,” Yesware is an email tracking tool that tells you what happens after you click send. Designed to help you understand who is and who isn’t opening your email, Yesware can be installed in your email inbox, and is offers feature to help better streamline your inbox such as open rate stats, a meeting scheduler, and Salesforce integration.

Modern public relations is much more than relationship building. Use these tools to foster and grow your relationships with the media, and ensure your PR efforts as impactful and laser focused as possible.

How To Handle Media Rejection

No matter how much time you have spent creating a plan, honing the perfect launch strategy and fine-tuning your press releases, there are many business owners today who find that even with all of their efforts, sometimes the media just doesn’t care. You can do all of the prep-work you want and start pitching with confidence, but sometimes even the most talented pitches fall of deaf ears. So many of us have been there before, we try everything we can in order to get coverage, only to find the media never contacts you back.

Nothing can be as frustrating as putting in a great deal of time and energy into a pitch only to be faced with complete silence on the other end. You can have the most textbook pitch and something that looks utterly perfect on paper, only to find that you never get the attention you have been looking for. It can be frustrating, but there are some ways that you can handle this type of rejection so you can make the most of the situation you have been dealt.

Know When It’s Time To Stop Following Up

If you haven’t followed up yet with your pitch, feel free to send a follow-up email. Be polite and don’t be pushy or even try a fresh angle. Sometimes a follow-up can help. However, there are very few situations where multiple follow-ups can help you. If you have not heard back from the media and already followed up, you need to know when to stop.

There are lots of reasons why you may not be hearing back, some could be your fault, others could just be what has been going on in the industry lately or what is going on with a certain publication. If you keep following up to the point where you become a nuisance, you can end up hurting your chances for attention in the future. Don’t annoy the media and don’t take it personally.

If you’ve been met with silence more than once, let it go until you have something new to pitch.

Add Some New Info

So no one responded to your pitch. It can be frustrating. However, this is a great time to go back and look over what you sent. If you are looking to get some media attention and your pitch sounds like you’re selling something, then this could be a problem. There are so many editors who are understandably put off by the idea of a company trying to sell them a product or service instead of selling them a story.

Take a new approach to your pitch. Add some research information or insight on trends to show how your company is leading your market or how they are different from others in the space. You need to make sure that you provide enough information and the right angle to show the editor that they have a story in front of them. Sometimes, adding something like this can be just what you need to turn silence into acceptance.

Go Back Through Your Email List

There are so many companies who create a contact list and then constantly utilize that media list every time they need something to go to press. If you aren’t getting the attention you want, then it may not be what you are sending, but who you are sending it to. Make sure you research your media list and make sure that your contact information is still correct, if it is an old list, and that you are actually sending something that would appeal to the people on your list. If you are trying to sell a story about a small local business, don’t send it to the finance editor.

Don’t expect people to tell you that the story doesn’t fit within their realm of coverage either. Editors are very busy individuals and chances are they don’t have time to send an “I’m sorry but I don’t cover this type of story,” email to every message they get. If you want to find out if you are sending the wrong stories to the wrong people, you need to do the work yourself.

While it can be frustrating to deal with media rejection, if you keep these three tips in mind, you just may be able to get the answer you seek and prepare yourself to prevent rejection again in the future.

Could Fear Of Failure Become An Entrepreneur’s Greatest Teacher?

Those who venture into business on their own do so wishing and hoping they succeed on their first attempt. They open lines of credit, sacrifice family gatherings and devote all their time and effort to make their business succeed. Unfortunately, in some cases, hard work is not enough and ventures fail.

But the prospect of failure is not even in the picture for many of those who decide to invest themselves in a startup. There’s just too much riding on its success and, of course, that imposes a great deal of pressure and anxiety on the entrepreneur. Some even suspect that even thinking about the prospect of failure could jinx the startup.

However, could this refusal to even think about failure hurt you as an entrepreneur? Could it hurt your business? While failure itself can be a great teacher, showing us the way things could have been done differently, we are socially conditioned to fear it and that could be an entrepreneur greatest weakness: fear, not failure.

Fear is part of the human nature. It’s needed for us to move forward. How so? Whenever we step outside of our comfort zone we are frightened by those things that are new to us. And that’s natural; it’s not a sign of weakness or lack of resilience: it is a sign of humanity. There could be no drive pushing us to overcome our fears if it wasn’t for fear itself.

At first, fear freezes us. We stand shocked. Paralyzed. Should I go into business on my own? In this economy? Is it worth it? But what if it doesn’t work out? How much debt will I have if it fails? These questions are all too familiar to anyone who’s ever been interested in launching their own startups. However, those who have done it successfully were able to overcome that inner voice. How did they do that?

Believe it or not, when we use it to our own advantage, fear of failure can be a very powerful driving force. It forces us to be flexible with our goals, to be open to reframe them in case that’s what it takes in order to move forward. It also forces us to stay on our toes and visualize all possible obstacles that could stand in our way. It helps us, in conclusion, to stay sharp, to move fast, and to be responsive.

What Are The Benefits Of Public Relations To A Business?

The benefits of a public relations campaign to your business may seem evident: media coverage sends more potential clients to your website (and as a result, grows leads and revenue). But actually public relations campaigns offer a much wider array of ROI drivers that often go unrecognized and unleveraged by marketing teams– leaving money and brand equity on the table. Accounting for and measuring all of these benefits of a public relations campaign is necessary to know the true effectiveness of your efforts and optimize them accordingly. As management expert Peter Drucker said, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. So before you update your public relations strategy, make sure you’re accounting for each of these ROI drivers below.

What Public Relations Benefits Are Businesses Overlooking?

The list of benefits to measure from a public relations campaign is long because of the unique ability PR has to also complement other channels in your marketing mix. The industry you’re in and the audience you target also plays a role in the ways your business will benefit from public relations. We’ve put together a guide that highlights the most important ones to consider, especially many that are often overlooked in the short term by many companies.

  1. Referral Traffic: The most obvious benefit from any public relations campaign is, of course, the referral traffic. Referral traffic is the traffic to your website directly from those who read about or see your business featured by a news network. In the case of a press article published online with a link back to your website, it’s the traffic from readers clicking that link directly back to your site. Referral traffic is the most basic benefit of a public relations campaign and one of the easiest to measure. However, it’s typically a short-term benefit unless you are consistently securing new press coverage to continue sending new referral traffic to your site. For one individual piece of press coverage, the bulk of referral traffic happens in the first 48-72 hours of the publicity going live because that’s when your news article is likely on the homepage of the press outlet.

  2. Social Proof: In marketing, social proof (coined by Robert Cialdini) is a term used to describe something that gives a brand social influence. Positive customer testimonials, critical reviews and positive press coverage are all examples of social proof that provides your brand more credibility. When social proof elements are incorporated into your marketing and sales materials, it increases your ability to sell a product. Customers trust and do business with brands that have a high degree of social proof, or in other words, a track record. Showcasing the press coverage your brand has received on your company website, your pitch decks, online advertising and even in your sales proposals has been a proven way to increase your conversion rates by building trust with prospects faster and shortening your sales cycle.

  3. Search Engine Rankings & Traffic: Although referral traffic from a piece of press coverage is often short-term, there is another form of traffic provided by public relations campaigns that lasts in perpetuity and that is search engine traffic. The website of a major news outlet often has a far higher Domain Authority than your own website. This means that an article about your company on a news outlet can often rank better for search keywords in your industry than your own website can, especially the very competitive keywords. When a press article about your own brand ranks well on a search engine for a beneficial keyword that your own website doesn’t rank for (or even if your website also does rank for that term) you are now benefiting from an additional search engine position that promotes your brand. When visitors find that article on a search engine and ultimately click through to your website from it, it provides a stream of traffic that lasts for as long as that article continues to rank in search (which for a high authority website, it can often be years).

  4. Activate Sales Leads from Your Email List: As was mentioned in the advice above about social proof, you can also take advantage of the same benefits by sharing your press coverage with your email list. Creating an email blast that announces your feature in the press and also provides a call to action back to one of the sales pages or offers on your website is a proven strategy for reactivating potential prospects from your email list that may have gone cold previously.

  5. Use PR in Social Media Advertising: For brands who are running social media advertising campaigns, incorporating your press coverage into your ads can help drive up your click-through and conversion rates. One of the most effective methods for doing so is to incorporate a mention of your press features in your ad copy or visual graphics. It helps establish credibility for your ad faster during a moment when you only have a matter of seconds to capture the attention of scrolling users. This credibility helps warm your prospect faster and shorten the purchasing cycle.

  6. Backlinks: Another important SEO benefit of public relations campaigns to businesses is the acquisition of backlinks through your press coverage. As mentioned above, news outlets have very high authority websites, which makes a backlink from their site very valuable to your own Domain Authority. Generating even one of these backlinks can improve the ranking of your own website on search engines, and generating an ongoing stream of them consistently can help turn your website into an SEO powerhouse that ranks for much more competitive search terms.

  7. Press Coverage is Permanent Exposure: Lastly, there is a key difference between receiving media coverage from a major news outlet and buying advertising on the very same outlet. Advertising is paid placement on a news outlet for a specified period of time. Once the time has ended, you either have to pay more to continue enjoying the same exposure, or you lose the exposure. With press coverage, your exposure on a news outlets website is permanent without the requirement of any additional investment. This means that the return on investment for a public relations campaign gets exponentially higher as time goes on due to the continuing public relations benefits for a business for the same initial investment.

Every day, countless new startups are emerging in today’s market and changing the way that our professional landscape. As an entrepreneur in charge of a new startup, it is important to get off on the right foot with all of your branding, marketing and public relations efforts. Here are five easy tips for first-time entrepreneurs to consider when they are looking to get their startup off the ground.

1. Be Prepared to Handle Bad Press

No one ever wants to handle bad press, but it is important that you are prepared to handle negative press before it ever happens. The more prepared you are, the better off you will be when it comes to handling bad press. You never know when an early mishap will happen as you are growing your company that leads to negative attention or a bad review. You should have a plan in place to handle these types of issues in case they occur.

2. Establish a Clear-Cut Identity Before You Open

Chances are you know the importance of establishing and maintaining a strong brand identity. Make sure that you have a clear-cut brand identity before you ever open, it will help you better communicate to the public and work on maintaining a strong image in the public eye. In order to do this you need to be able to identify what your values are, what your company culture is like, what makes you different from your competitors and what makes you unique.

3. Create Your Company’s Story

Every company needs a story. Creating a strong, identifiable narrative is an important part of good public relations. You need to have a story to share about your company, how it got started and what it is working towards. This is a story that you will need to be able to share with investors, the press and your target market of consumers.

4. Put your CEO out in the Forefront

Your CEO needs to be at the forefront of your business. If you want to get your company off to a strong start public relations wise, you need to make sure that your CEO is visible and out in the public. Your CEO’s face should become synonymous with your company name.

5. Consider Professional Help

While it can seem like a big expense for a company that is just getting off the ground, it is important to consider professional help in your public relations efforts. Hiring a firm can be a great way to help you stay on task and to make sure someone outside of your small and busy staff is working on your PR efforts.

Keep these tips in mind if you are looking to get your new startup off the ground with a strong PR presence. These are easy tips to implement into your PR strategy that will make sure your company has a strong presence from the moment you launch your new brand.

Crafting The Perfect Press Release

The perfect press release can win you additional exposure both online and offline. Contrary to popular belief, the press release is still a useful tool in your marketing arsenal. So how should you go about crafting the perfect press release? We’re going to go through it from top to bottom.

Make The Headline Punchy

The people you want to read your press release don’t have time for flowery language and exaggerated nonsense. They want the facts so they can create a story from it. A persuasive and punchy headline that gets to the point is what journalists and other industry influencers look for.

Your headline should be no more than a few words long. Refer to the title of this guide for a prime example of that.

The First Paragraph Should Tell The Story

Remember when we said that journalists and influencers are in a hurry?

They’re more likely to skim-read a press release than read it in detail. Give them all the information they want from the beginning. The first 100 words should explain the story, with the rest of the press release giving more details. Don’t try to lead people through the release with hooks and teasers. They don’t work in this format.

Keep It Short

Always keep things short. You don’t want to have a press release that goes over 500 words. Most of the time, it’s better to make them even shorter than that. Remember if anyone’s interested in hearing you tell your company’s story they will get in touch with you and you can lay out the details then.

Furthermore, you should make a special effort to minimize jargon. The people you’re trying to attract aren’t industry insiders. They likely won’t understand the technical aspects of your business.

Double/triple Check For Errors

There’s nothing worse than making a basic error. It leaves your company looking unprofessional and unskilled. There are tools available to help with this. We recommend picking up a tool like Grammarly. It will search and highlight any errors within your press release.

That way you’ll be able to catch potentially embarrassing mistakes before they happen.

Don’t Mass Send Your Press Release

Mass sending will lead to your press release going in the trash. Think about who you really want to see your press release. Opt for fewer sends and concentrate on your targets. We recommend picking out your targets to start with. Find your targets and write the release based on what they’re looking for.

The biggest complaint about press releases is they don’t seem to have much of a return. That’s because people aren’t focusing on targeting enough.

Last Word – Getting Better At Press Releases

Use these tips and look back at some of your previous press releases. Do they conform to the guidance given in this guide? If not, it may explain why you didn’t get the performance you were looking for. But that’s okay because you can improve your proficiency in press release writing.