Should You Hire a PR Firm to Promote Your Business or Do-It-Yourself?
As you're getting your business off the ground, it's natural to want to explore the different ways you can promote your business. Thanks to modern technology, you have the ability to extend your reach by using a variety of platforms both online and offline.
But the real question is: do you need to promote your business on a more professional level?
In other words, do you need to hire a PR firm to help you get your business noticed in the real world? The answer is somewhat subjective, and it can also depend on your budget. In most cases, it will actually be more beneficial for you to do the PR work in-house while you're working on building your brand. You may also find that hiring a professional firm may be too expensive as you're just starting out. Doing it yourself can often yield a better return on your investment.
Keep reading to find out the different methods you can use to promote your business in-house as well as some tips to follow if you decide to hire a professional to do the work for you.
Having a press page on your website
The press page is one of the hottest pages on your site. Why? I hear you ask! Well, when people want to know more about your business, they want to see who else has endorsed and featured your work. They like to see if you have your finger on the pulse when it comes to having both you and your work acknowledged by peers. So it's only natural that you should have a press page for them to check you out!
Your press page should list the places where your business has been featured. This includes links to any pertinent news or articles about you, your business, or specifically the types of products or services you offer. Don't forget to include contact details. Anyone interested in learning more can get the deets on how to reach out to you if they want to do an interview or need more information.
You can also include a link to your press kit on your press page, so it's easily accessible to journalists or any other interested parties. Your press kit should include:
* Background or historical information on your business or you, if applicable * Fact sheet containing any specific business features, statistics, or benefits. * Your biography and that of any other key executives or business members * Any past press coverage * Your photos or other images including that of other key executives, logos, products, etc. * A press release announcing current news or information the media kit is being sent in reference to * Media formats or files such as a CD, DVD, software, or app that is appropriate for the audience being sent to * A postcard, flyer, newspaper ad, or other relevant promotional materials
* You start your business * Your website goes live * You publish your blog or podcast * New products or services are released * You launch your social media platform(s) * Your business hosts an event (for either online or live in-person occasions) * Any other relevant news happens that your audience needs to be aware of
A press release can be sent to your local media or you can also distribute them online. The most reputable online press release distributors are PRWeb (http://prweb.com/) and PRNewswire (http://prnewswire.com/). You'll find many other options available with a wide variety of pricing structures, but make sure you're getting what you pay for and that you'll get the most bang for your buck.
A press release is more informative and shouldn't sound too “sales-y” or you may run up against some barriers to getting it published. In addition to getting information in front of your audience, when written well, a press release can grab the attention of other media sources, which can often lead to being interviewed in magazines, podcasts, or even a local TV network!
You can also hire an intern or freelancer to do press releases (or any other PR-related tasks) without having to spend a ton of money. It will be a cheaper option than hiring an actual PR firm and you can still yield great results with very little effort or expense.
The easy way to tap into online media resources
Another way to get featured with a variety of online media sources is to tap into services that directly connect you with journalists. Two awesome resources that I've used in the past are HARO (https://www.helpareporter.com/) and SourceBottle (http://www.sourcebottle.com/). Both of these sites are free to sign up for and they notify you when a reporter or journalist wants to connect with you. Pretty cool, right?
Instead of wasting tons of time trying to find someone who's interested in what you're doing, they can easily find you on these sites. I actually was featured in a large “New Year” themed magazine photo shoot one time simply because I had a profile on HARO.
The cool thing is that it puts you front and center without hardly any effort on your part. And it doesn't have to be a magazine feature. You can connect with industry experts from blogs, podcasts, television stations, and a wide range of reputable news sources.
Using online platforms and social media to connect with mentors and industry leaders
If you don't want to wait for people to reach out to you, then go direct! Follow up with specific individuals on social media. Maybe you want to connect with a mentor or an industry leader but want to make more of a direct effort.
Follow them on the social media platforms they participate on and make sure you comment on their posts. And don't forget to do the same if they have a blog or podcast! The more you interact with people online, they more you will stand out and grab their attention.
Once you've done this enough and have established yourself as a dedicated follower, you can step things up. Try to connect with them based on an idea that matches both yours and their needs. This can be an idea for a guest blog post or a type of joint venture that benefits you both. Don't get discouraged if you're turned down or if it takes them a while to get back to you. Keep in mind that lots of other people are also probably trying to reach out to them but your persistence will pay off.
Tips to follow if you do hire a PR firm
If you do decide to move forward with hiring a PR firm to handle promoting your business, I've put together a few tips to make sure it's a smooth process that won't break your budget.
First, you want to make sure that you use a PR firm with a good reputation. Do your homework and look at their website, their client lists and the experience of its staff. Yeah review sites or check-in with the Better Business Bureau to see if they've had any major complaints. It also makes a significant difference if they specialize in what you're doing. Seek out a firm that focuses on your niche or industry for mammoth results!
Always start off as small as possible when you begin working with a PR firm. Find out if they have an introductory rate or a small starter package to see how the relationship goes. You don't want to sign up for a year-long contract without knowing what the results are going to be. If at all possible, avoid getting hooked into a long-term deal as it can be a risky as well as large investment for a small business.
Regardless of whether you hire a PR firm or do the work in-house, it's essential to raise awareness about your business in as many ways as possible. As you experiment with a variety of methods, you'll discover the best ways to promote your business with minimal expense or effort.