The Magic of Free PR
Getting free publicity is not magic, although the best PR firms make it seem that way!
I’ve been doing PR for 20 years, from typewriters to Twitter. I love my job because I enjoy serving the media and making a difference by getting positive stories in the news.
I conduct free teleseminars through my company, Wasabi Publicity Inc., which can be listened to on our Web site, www.PublicityResults.com. I recently coached Michelle Gast, a full-time mom, part-time entrepreneur and creator of One Trip Tote (www.onetriptote.com) on free PR.
As a busy mom, Michelle got tired of making trips to her car. So she invented a 12-by-24 beautiful tote and created a company and Web site to sell it. It’s the perfect item for moms to use to haul kids’ lunches, school supplies, books, bags, balls, and swimming suits plus it’s ideal for shopping, holiday supplies and gifts — anything! Her slogan: Gather. Go. Gorgeous.
Here are some tips I shared for getting free PR that will bring your business new customers, credibility and cash!:
Make your Web site media friendly with a press area for facts about your product or service and high-resolution downloadable images. Better yet, get an online press kit through www.PressKit247.com and link to it from your public site. These kits include your story, bio, photos, suggested interview topics and questions.
Offer free tips valuable to your target media, their audience and visitors to your site. Michelle’s obvious evergreen topic is tips to help busy moms stay organized.
Post your tips and content on your LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter sites, and use them in blogs. Get an inexpensive video camera and shoot a customer interested in your product or other interesting video for your Web site.
Sign up as an expert and/or source on free query services such as www.PitchRate.com that send you leads on reporters looking for interviews in your expertise area.
Make a media list of newspapers, magazines (local to national), TV and radio programs, online media, bloggers and other Web portals that may be interested in your content. Print or online media will often publish well-written tips articles or photos you submit with a short bio mentioning your Web site and e-mail. Visit bookstores, libraries and Web sites to get editors’ names and contacts. Visit www.usnpl.com for a list of media.
Get to know your media and their needs. Don’t just push your product; offer valuable content. Contact newspaper section editors and local TV and radio hosts looking for new and interesting local features.
Create a plan with action steps listing media you will contact each week. Put it on your calendar. Write down potential holiday and seasonal pitches for your product, publication or service. Most magazines work three to six months in advance, so if Halloween is about to arrive, they may be starting to plan their Valentines issues!
Include a free newsletter and signup on your Web site to provide valuable content and gather e-mail addresses to send out news about your company and products.
Stay focused and persistent. Don’t get discouraged or upset if media don’t return your phone calls or emails. Remember they are busy. Business editor not interested? Try the features editor or holiday gift guide editor. Keep calling and emailing until you reach someone who is interested in your story, service, product.
The key is having a plan for getting free publicity and working on it in bite size pieces over time. Get to know your media and build relationships by offering them valuable information and interesting content. Be friendly, be patient, and above all, be persistent!