PR is a great way to spread the word about your business and get your name out into the world, generating valuable attention for your business for free. Yet getting press coverage is still one of the trickiest things to obtain.
Miranda Leslau is a PR expert and founder of Miranda Leslau PR – here she shares her top PR tips for small businesses.
TRS: If someone has just launched a business and wants to get media coverage, what’s the best way to go about it?
It really depends on the business. Think before you contact media editors and understand who does what at a newspaper, magazine or broadcast media outlet. If you are a spa, offer up makeovers to local or national beauty editors. Make press releases relevant and tailored to purpose, with correct spelling and punctuation. A press release needs to stand out and should not be a sales flyer, it is an informational tool that should leave the reader wanting more and taking action.
If you are advertising with a publication and they ‘promise’ you coverage, normally advertising and editorial work completely independently. UNLESS you are working with some trade titles or local (regional) media.
TRS: Contacting the media about a launch isn’t enough to get featured; how does someone make their story interesting or relevant enough to get featured?
Think about what is newsworthy, both culturally and calendar-wise. Quirky is good and also a local hero angle if the founder of an organisation is targeting local media. You need to stand out in a large crowd. Most press releases are dumped as they are poorly written, have no clear message and are just fluff. It reflects badly on the host organisation.
TRS: What are your top tips for putting a press release together?
Made a header short and punchy – name-check any celebs (with approval) or anything that gives the release a time or location link.
No longer then two pages.
The most important information should be on page one.
Paragraph one should introduce the key facts.
Second paragraph can explain or quantify.
A punchy quote that is relevant from a spokesperson.
A final paragraph with factual information including social media links and a call-to-action.
Always include PR details.
Only include editor’s notes if relevant.
A separate biography is sometimes helpful if you are profile building.
Add a date if relevant.
Accompany with great images (and advise of any credit if required).
TRS: What are the common mistakes people make with press releases?
Hideous spelling and grammar.
Writing a sales article rather than actually creating what the media want.
Pages and pages of nonsense.
Too short lead in (ie understand that monthly magazines work at least three months in advance for print editions).
They don’t read or watch or listen to the media. Understand what each target audience wants and needs.
TRS: Editor’s must receive thousands of press releases; What tips can you offer to ensure a press release gets noticed?
Make it relevant.
Work with their calendar and forward features list.
Ensure you have great images and clear, precise emails.
TRS: How do you build relationships with key media contacts?
Do what you say you are going to do.
Always ask a journalist when their deadline is.
Offer up exclusives, which is really important – whilst some PR’s will blanket mail or use news wires, nothing beats a great exclusive.
Respond quickly and efficiently.
Don’t just call editors for a chat.
Arrange one-to-one meetings to go through planning or editorial ideas as well as opportunities for your client to present industry expertise etc.
TRS: What is the best way to contact editors?
Usually initially by email.
Some people do initial sell-ins but don’t just do a standard follow-up call to editors asking ‘did you receive my press release’.
Use telephone time wisely eg for exclusives or something that can’t be expressed on an initial email (you have 30 seconds to convey your message clearly and relevantly).
Sometimes Twitter works as well.
Send gifts and cupcakes if relevant and appropriate – sometimes a journalist will tweet images.
TRS: How can we position ourselves as experts and contribute to their features with our expert opinion?
Trade titles and advance features normally work 6-8 weeks in advance.
If in doubt, create a spreadsheet and adhere to each title’s deadlines.
If a journalist contacts you, they may often want content that very day – clients always fail to understand that the media wants information yesterday!
TRS: What makes a good news story?
If regional, make it local.
If reactive to news, make it relevant.
If proactive, if it is a FIRST OF A KIND, SOMETHING TOTALLY WHACKY, A WORLD RECORD etc.
If it’s research then make sure everything is sourced and correctly cited.
If it’s FUN!
If the story is either crisis-related (announcing or responding), make sure suitable quotes are included expressing empathy etc.
TRS: Do you have any other essential PR tips that you could share with our readers?
Think before you write or send anything.
Make sure you target the right people for the right story.
Think laterally…if you make gloves, why not include driving gloves and target motoring editors. There is only limited space on each physical page so cross-market your brands.
When sending videos and images make them appropriate – editors hate images clogging up in-boxes so send low res options to begin with.
You may also like to read our other PR Tips for Start Ups