Though a PR campaign is often what’s needed to raise their profile and revenue, startup companies and other smaller ventures often do not have the financial resources to hire a PR firm. So, it’s DIY time. Though results may not be the same or as rapid as would be generated by a hired PR firm or professional, it is certainly possible for young businesses to bootstrap their way to PR success. Here are a few tips:
Learn which journalists cover your industry and be helpful to them.
Do a search online for news about your industry and create a list of the journalists who write the stories you find. Then learn all you can about these journalists. Set up Google Alerts for their names and read the stories that pop up. If the media outlets in which the stories are published allow comments, make comments that demonstrate your expertise in the subject and, if applicable, link back to the page on your site that proves your credibility. Find the journalists’ Twitter feeds and comment on their tweets. Don’t overdo it so you look like a stalker, but be regular enough so that the journalists come to see you as an expert. Then, when you pitch a story to them, they are more likely to pay attention. If they see you as a truly reliable and honest source, they may also start calling you for comments on stories in your field.
Share your expertise as a speaker.
Seek out opportunities to speak to groups where there are likely to be prospective customers, such as industry conferences. You’ll have to begin small at local chapters of larger organizations, but stairstep your way to the national stage by using your appearances before local groups to demonstrate your chops. Use videos of you speaking to these groups to pitch larger venues. And be sure to invite journalists to your speaking engagements.
Become a thought leader on LinkedIn.
Commit to writing and posting at least one LinkedIn long-form post a month on a topic in which you are an expert and can offer insights. Then, join LinkedIn groups that pertain to your topic and promote your long-form posts there, as well as across all other social media channels and on your website. Also, seek out posts by others in the groups you join and comment on them. And while you are at it, make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and up to date. Click on the “Strengthen Your Profile” button, and LinkedIn will walk you through the process.
Write a column for your local newspaper.
The economic squeeze that the news business is enduring means that many publications — especially small, community newspapers — are hurting for content. If you’re in a consumer-focused industry, like law, accounting, health care, home maintenance and others, pitch your local paper on running a regular column written by you that provides helpful advice on your area of expertise.
Become a Quora expert.
Becoming a Quora expert takes a significant investment of time and you have to really know what you are talking about. But if you can meet these criteria, becoming a Quora expert can go a long way to raising your profile as a go-to person in your field. The key is to focus exclusively on topics in which you have deep knowledge and to provide detailed, fact-based answers.
Submit articles to guest-posting sites.
Unlike most news sites, where you have to actually contact an editor or reporter and convince them to use your information, there are many sites that make it easy to submit articles for publication, even providing a form you can use. Some good ones include Outbrain, for articles about marketing; About, which covers thousands of topics; HubSpot, for articles about marketing; Investopedia, for articles about finance; Sitepoint, for articles about web design and development, as well as technology in general; and Lifehack, if you’re an expert on productivity. There are many others. Just search for “guest posting” to find them. Getting published on these sites can help establish your credibility as an expert, give you links you can forward, and, when you link to them from your website, can help your SEO.
Is doing your own PR a lot of work? Yes. Does it take a long-term commitment? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes, because it is the best way to draw attention and customers to your business so you can grow your revenue to the point where you can hire a professional PR firm to do all of this hard work for you.