public relations

DIY Public Relations: How to Be Your Own Biggest Advocate

Think about the last time you read about a new restaurant opening, a big event coming to town or a bestseller you wanted to add to your reading list. There’s a good chance that all of those news stories began as an email in a reporter’s inbox.

Public relations, unlike marketing or advertising, is a mutually beneficial partnership that connects an organization with its targeted public via news stories: digital, print, social or interpersonal.

How well is your company doing in making these valuable connections?

If there’s room for improvement, don’t be discouraged. Like you, many entrepreneurs are too busy running their day-to-day operations to take on any other tasks. I get it. But it is possible to generate positive news coverage of your company within your busy schedule.

Here are my top five tips for getting started with being your own public relations advocate:

Define what makes you different

Building a world-class brand requires a unique selling proposition that resonates with customers. It’s what defines your brand in the market and sets it apart from the competition.

It could be about product attributes, your personal story, your company values, your global impact or all of the above, but it’s impossible to create a public relations strategy without first grasping your company’s defining quality.

When thinking this through, answer the following questions:

  • Why should consumers care about my product?
  • What problem am I solving?
  • How do the benefits of my product or service differ from those of my competitors?

You’ll start to see patterns emerge when you review the answers to the above questions, which will help you better define your unique selling proposition. Don’t rush the process. Seek input from colleagues, family, friends and other professionals in order to make sure you have a variety of perspectives.

Related: StartupNation Radio feat. Siren PR and The Detroit Writing Room

Utilize the power of social media

Social media is a powerful tool for entrepreneurs:

A 2019 Hootsuite report shows that the average American has 7.1 social media accounts and spends nearly 2.5 hours per day networking and messaging.

These numbers should be encouraging, as they mean the knowledge of where your consumers spend a large portion of their time (and how to reach them) is right at your fingertips. Ensure you have an active presence on the social media platforms that make sense for your target market. Focused on engaging with millennials or Generation Z? Take a look at Instagram or Snapchat to engage and grow your fan base.

In addition to customers, are you aiming to reach other businesses? LinkedIn is a great place to start.

Learn your industry influencers

You’ll never sell to your audience if you don’t first understand them. Do a thorough analysis of your target audience to learn what they are reading, watching and listening to.

Where are they posting socially? What is their most-used app? Where do they get their news? This information will help you identify who you can consider contacting in order to get your message directly to your ideal audience.

Make it your mission to get to know journalists, bloggers, reporters, social media influencers, YouTube personalities or even celebrities who cover your industry. These relationships will be essential, since they are the connection between you and your target audience. Engage with them via email or social media (see, I told you it was important!) and work to build authentic relationships.

Be consistent within your community

While the majority of public relations happens digitally, don’t discount the power of building relationships with the public while in public.

Start by getting involved with a local organization where you can give your time and resources, and also become more immersed in the community around you. With over 193 chapter locations in 60 countries, Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) is one community that supports entrepreneurs with executive-education events, networking opportunities and mentorship programs.

While it’s important for you to network, it’s equally as important to showcase your product or service locally. Can you offer your product or service for free to a select group of individuals for testing and feedback? Research local events that your target audience frequents and offer to be a sponsor. Any opportunity to get your brand in front of the public eye is a positive.

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Start talking

Once you’ve defined your message, engaged with your target audience on social media and in the community and established relationships with influencers, it’s time to start talking.

First, think about the subjects in which you’re an expert, or topics relevant to your business that will add value to readers.

Then, choose one media outlet where you’ve created a relationship (such as your local newspaper or a trade publication that covers your industry) and offer to write a monthly column for free. Getting your name and your company’s name into the public eye in this way is a powerful marketing tactic.

What makes good-quality public relations practitioners so valuable (and often expensive) is that they learn how to talk and write like you, and then they use your voice to relay well-crafted messages to your targeted audiences. They use the tactics I’ve listed above in addition to others (such as blogging, SEO, case studies and infographics, to name a few) to get your company’s name in front of decision makers.

It doesn’t take a huge corporation with a large marketing budget to see results. Start with these five tips to begin advocating on behalf of your own organization.

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