Having a member of the respected media write about your company in a publication that your prospects read is one of the most powerful marketing opportunities available to any business. Mentions from a 3rd party that is unbiased is incredibly valuable in help you to develop trust throughout your community.
While some may argue that the onslaught of millions of bloggers and the immense amount of information online may dilute the effect of media mentions, both of these trends still create lead generation opportunities for the small business.
The challenge for most small businesses is figuring out how to go about building a public relations plan to use it as a source of lead generation. Below are the 5 critical steps required to build a systematic approach to using Public Relations. And while the steps aren’t that difficult, it does require an investment of time.
Step 1–Listen. The first step to building your approach is to listen. Listen and read your local media sources and know what’s going on around you and your industry. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create a list of 10 journalists that write on your industry and read what they’re writing. You can create Google Alerts on their names so you don’t have to go searching for their information. The idea here is for you to get to know what they write about and get their attention.
Step 2–Network. Because most writers have a slew of online social profiles and their own blogs these days, it’s much easier to network amongst this group. Read what they are writing and comment on their articles. Maybe you have some additional comments or examples that demonstrate a point of they’ve made or maybe you have an alternative opinion that you can support and offer additional value. The intent here is to interact with them like you’re at a networking event.
Step 3–Pitch Curves. If you’ve been working on steps 1 and 2 diligently, you’ve earned enough trust to take the next step to actually start a conversation with them. You start by referencing something they’ve written recently and mentioning something that you think their audience might find interesting. Be sure to elaborate on why it would be interesting and how you might have used it.
In this case, you want to pitch a few ideas that might have some impact and tie positive angles to your company. But be careful that you’re not making a sales pitch because no one wants that. They get pitched a good deal of information, so you need to be sure that you’re pitching something of good value.
Step 4–Press or News Releases. Another aspect of your public relations plans is to have regular news going out about what’s going on in your company–like charity events that you might be supporting, big deals that have been signed or a community award. While this isn’t the kind of stuff that hits the front page, it’s still important to ensure your customer and prospect community are aware of the latest happenings in your company. Using online distribution sites like PRWeb or Pitch Engine can help to get your story to some industry sites or end users and it will offer some backlink building value to your web site.
Step 5–Amplify. Now the opportunity is for you to post those press links to your online profiles so that your community has the opportunity to see them. You can create an “In the News” section on your web site and keep it current with all the mentions and press releases that go out. Printing your one-page press releases in press release format and sending it out to your customers is a great way to keep your client network current on what’s happening in your business and it does double-duty as it reinforces the decisions the client made to do business with you.
Using this 5 step public relations starter plan is a great way to start to incorporate public relations into your marketing system and help you get more familiar with what needs to be done on a consistent and regular basis to use it for lead generation.