Creating a buzz: How to attract and use PR on a limited budget

Published · 2 min read

Marketing should be seen as everything that a business does to create an exchange between it and its customers. Think of marketing as a piece of a trivial pursuit pie. Other pieces of the pie include PR, pricing, discount, sales strategy, community involvement and customer service. All the pieces of the pie can work separately or as a part of the bigger goal: which is promoting your business.

So, what’s the difference between PR & advertising?

Advertising is when you tell people how great you are. PR is when someone else tells people how great you are” – Guy Kawasaki

PR or public relations is supplying information to the media in the hope that they will run your story. There’s a big difference between publicity and advertising. While you have to pay for advertising, you can get PR for free!

Getting free publicity works really well for a local business and it isn’t as hard as you might think. Local media are always on the lookout for a good news local story, so whether you’ve expanded your business, bucked the national downwards trend, created a local group, or run a marathon dressed as a chicken, they’ll be interested to hear what you’ve done, how and why.

If you can keep a consistent media presence in your local publications: local magazines, local newspapers, local radio and online, then you’ll implant yourself in your customers minds

The first thing you need is a publicity plan. There are 7 things to consider when building a plan:

  1. Define your publicity goals: do you want to elevate your profile or your store’s? Do you want increased footfall or to create traffic for a website?
  2. Create a top 5 local media hit list: this can include newspapers, magazines, radio shows, blogs, local TV and local bloggers
  3. Do your research: identify your contacts – are they features, editorial or business? Buy at least three copies of the publication and read it properly before you contact anyone
  4. Think about story ideas: the media always need a story or an angle, so think about your business venture from a reporter’s or reader’s viewpoint. What kind of story would make you buy the magazine?
  5. Work out a media plan month by month or week by week. This will help you to keep on track
  6. Diarise everything you need to do, or that you’ve done, so that you can keep track of it
  7. Follow up any approaches to journalists: whenever you’ve sent samples, stories or a pitch, follow up three days later to check they’ve received it/them

PR is all about relationship building – making contacts that lead to opportunities. The better your relationship with the media and other key people in your industry/town, the better your chance of getting the coverage you want.

Social media has really changed the landscape for contacting local media. Twitter, for example, is a fabulous way of creating relationships and keeping up with media type contacts, and most reporters and local media are well represented on there. You can often find requests for help on stories by following local hashtags such as #journorequest or #bloggers.

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