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Your side hustle is doing amazing things, but you haven’t been nominated for any awards, profiled in a major magazine or featured in a TV show segment. What gives? If you take a look back at your media initiatives, you might have already found your answer. Maybe you don’t have a public relations firm or in-house PR pro to represent your business. Or maybe you considered hiring a firm, discussed the price involved, and realized your startup simply doesn’t have that kind of budget for publicity right now. Does that mean that you won’t be able to get out there and get noticed?
Not at all. There are plenty of ways even the most bootstrapped entrepreneur can reel in mentions on major media outlets without spending tons of cash. Read on as we spill the details on how to do so.
Establish yourself as an expert
Why would anyone want to talk to you or pick your brain? What makes your side hustle stand out from the rest and cements you as a professional within your industry? If you want to get noticed, you need to get out there and position yourself as an authority in your field utilizing the following avenues.
- Publish posts on LinkedIn. See that networking site full of professionals where you (probably) have more than 500 connections? Write blog posts and publish them on relevant topics so your network can get a feel for what it is you do and what you’re passionate about.
- Subscribe to HARO. HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, is a free daily newsletter filled with queries from members of the media requesting expert commentary on the stories they’re working on for outlets like CNBC, Forbes and BuzzFeed. Read through these emails and determine which stories you’d be able to contribute to and pitch the writers with your best answer. Remember that not every pitch gets picked up by the reporters (who can receive hundreds of pitches per query!), so be patient and keep at it.
- Guest blog. If you have a business partner who runs a blog you’d like to share your insights on, or know of a media outlet that you’d be a great fit to contribute to, pitch your ideas for guest blog posts.
- Set up Google Alerts. How will you know where you’re being mentioned anyway? Use Google Alerts to track relevant keywords to your side hustle (your own name and the name of your business are acceptable here) and monitor the web for any mentions about you that might crop up.
Refresh your current publicity tactics
When was the last time you updated your list of media contacts? How about switching up the style of your press releases? Your existing PR tactics might actually be more stale than you realize and if that’s the case, it’s time to switch them up!
- Are you a big fan of long-form written content? Flip to short form in pitch emails to keep the message covering the 5 Ws and 1 H that the reporter needs to know about now (who, what, where, when, why and how). Less is always more and if they’re intrigued by what you’re offering, they’ll reach out for more information.
- Beef up a press release by including an image, like an infographic you researched and designed, that catches the attention of readers and media outlets.
- Let the voices of your customers be heard! Outside of social media sites like Facebook, encourage your customers to leave reviews about your business on sites like Yelp or Trustpilot.
- Keep your ear low to the (tweeting) ground. Rather than pitch dozens of writers en masse with a copy and paste email about your services, follow relevant reporters on Twitter. Sometimes they’ll talk about articles they’re working on — and need advice for — and can reply back to them and pitch via 140 characters or less.
Hold an open house
If you’re in the position to do this and have a brick and mortar storefront, host an open house event to introduce everyone to your business. Get a food truck and drinks, live music, hold a raffle, invite the local media to cover the event, and allow customers to explore your shop to discover what you do and offer in the area.
After all, in between creating content online, it’s important not to forget about the greatest media opportunity of all: real-life encounters with members of your community who will become your brand’s biggest advocates.