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New Business PR: Tactics to Help you Grow

Before you start looking for a public relations strategy, you’ll need to define your audience and the types of media connections that will best serve your business’ PR goals. It’s very important that you take the time to research your audience and what forms of media they’ll be most likely to engage with – there are many different formats and opportunities can vary dramatically depending on your local media landscape.

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Let’s start off by taking a deeper look at your target audience’s media preferences. Ask yourself, what does my audience listen to, watch, and read? By answering this question utilizing our customer research guide and template, you’ll be more prepared to identify what types of websites, blogs, news sites, newspapers, and events your audience likes to consume, as well as what locations they frequently visit.

 

When you’re just starting to postulate what your PR efforts will look like, it’s important that you define your goals before getting started by asking yourself a few of the following questions:

 

  • Are you looking to connect with print or news reporters? Local bloggers, magazine writers, or other influencers? Local businesses? Could they be potential partners, like affiliates, or customers – or both?
  • Do you want to position yourself as a guest, or have yourself or someone in the company appear as an expert?
  • Do you want the media partner to actively promote your business products or services? Send an email blast about you? Feature you on their blog? Link back to your site on their own?

 

Keep in mind that when it comes to media placements, less is more. Unlike other forms of advertising, PR is not a numbers game. It’s far more important to have a few quality options since these landscapes are often so interconnected. A few meaningful, highly relevant connections outweigh having your foot in the door of dozens of contacts.

 

Always be sure that your goals are clear, and that you can easily track the results of your efforts. A good way to do this is a week after content has been published or event, record its social media reach and engagement, website traffic from that source, new brand mentions, sales figures, and SEO backlinks to see the value from your efforts. For ongoing or long-term efforts, you’ll want to check in more regularly.

Building a Media List

The next step in this process is to build a media list. Media contact lists are used for having a collection of relevant people that could be interested in covering and writing about your news story. Media lists target specific personalities, not publications themselves – sometimes personalities work for more than one publication or program that could be equally relevant to your business goals. You’ll want to pitch to relevant journalists or influencers who write about your niche or topic content you’re pitching – you don’t want to contact sports writers with home and living section pieces. Do your research and listen to the programs to make sure your message is hitting the right audience.

 

Your list should include:

Contact information

The writer’s contact information including first and last name, email, and phone number as well as how they prefer to be contacted – some journalists hate phone calls, others prefer it and it may change depending on the nature of your relationship.

Specifications

These include the media outlet(s) they write for, its location, and their role (journalist, blogger, editor, staff writer, etc.), beat, or topic they cover – the more precise, the better. For example, instead of saying they cover technology, say they cover technology with a focus on green solutions.

Information About Their Writing

This includes

  • Content: What kind of content do they usually produce (reports, articles, blogs)
  • Writing Style – analytical, humorous, critical, etc.
  • Audience – Are they writing to the general public or specific people?

 

Social Media and Notes

You should be keeping track of their social media handles and other relationship building information like their interests and birthday. Be sure to include notes about correspondences, like ideas for conversation starters that will grab their attention, or updates about recent conversations.

 

Use a template like this one to keep track of all this information, and segment your targets based on the types of media they work in.

Media Kits

Before we get started, it’s important to note that media kits are also referred to as press kits. A media kit explains what your business does in a packaged format writers can skim for relevant information that saves them time when researching your business. You can also send your media kit to people you want press coverage from, as well as potential partners so they can quickly learn about your business.

 

Your media kit should include:

 

  • A company overview that gives a brief summary of what your business is. This is also called a Boilerplate
  • A fact sheet with any key information like when your company was founded, its locations and areas it serves, or any other notable statistics like how many customers you serve and how large the company is
  • An overview of your company’s history with how its grown and key milestones that paints a story
  • Notable employees or founders with a short biography and headshot
  • Any notable media mentions, testimonials, awards, partnerships, and other achievements with a brief description of each
  • You can also include notable products/services if any are particularly noteworthy – like if you specialize in green solutions, you can explain how these services
  • Branding and style guidelines like colors and fonts your company uses

 

In addition to these bits of information, you’ll want to include downloadable assets like high quality brand images of your business, team together, team at work, headshots of your founder(s), and logos. For some inspiration, take a look at the sample media kit we’ve created.

Radio Stations

When you’re starting to define which mediums to use when marketing your business, radio probably wasn’t the first to pop into mind (if at all). However, utilizing radio advertising can be rewarding if you’re pursuing an older target market. So, where to start?

 

For a list of the best radio stations in your area, take a look at this list from City Data. Another option would be to use Radio Locator. When advertising on the radio, be sure to ask if the station would be willing to do a trade. Radio stations are always looking for giveaways so try offering a service for free in exchange for an advertising spot. You should also check to see if the station has any specific requirements when it comes to advertising. When contacting radio stations, look at their advertise with us section for rates and to contact them – usually they’ll have detailed information about their audience demographics.

 

Keep in mind that it’s better to repeat an ad multiple times within a short frequency than over long periods of time – more likely to reach the same audience, which typically needs to hear an ad around 3 times before it really registers with them.

How to Write a Radio Ad

Radio ads – you’ve probably heard them time and time again, but how does one actually go about writing a radio ad? Well, firstly you’ll need to decide what type of radio ad you want to provide. You can do a live read version, where the announcer will read from a script, a jingle with music, or a situational ad. Situation ads include voice actors that dramatize the advertisement. Here’s a poor and quite corny example: “My AC stopped working, it’s the dead of summer and I can’t seem to get an appointment anywhere” “Gee Wiz, That’s why I use Mike’s Heating & Air…”

 

Next, once you’ve decided on what type of ad you’ll be doing, you’ll need to write the script for a 30 second advertisement, which is around 75 words. Remember, 15 seconds (around 37 words) can be enough if your business is established enough so that people know you by name.

 

A few ways to make your radio ad stand out are to localize the ad, capitalize on trends, add music, utilize humor, open with a catchy hook, or use a great voice actor. When it comes to the actual writing of the ad, you can utilize this template for quick and easy ad creation.

 

Using the pitch you’ve already developed (if you haven’t developed a pitch yet, take a look at our article on Pitching For New Businesses) start with a question about your potential customer’s pain points.

 

  • Need an affordable plumbing company you can trust?
  • Answer the question: We help ___ do ___ by ___.
  • We help you stay on budget by offering affordable financing and guaranteed service
  • Offer Proof of how you’re uniquely qualified to fix pain point
  • Flush Gordon Plumbing and Heating is a family-owned and operated business trusted by the community for over a decade and offers affordable, transparent service and pricing.
  • Include a clear call to action
    • Call us now at (555) 555-1234
  • Give an incentive
    • Use this special code X and get 20% off your first visit

Formatting Your Ad

If your ad will be a script read by an announcer, it’s helpful to format your script in this specific way. Take a look at our Radio Ad Template for a full example of correct formatting. Keep in mind that requirements may differ per radio station, but advertisements that are read live are typically formatted as such:

 

  • Contact Information- You and your business’ contact information like name, phone number, email address, and website is at top left corner of the page
  • All text below contact information is centered
  • Radio Announcement is underlined and bolded at the top of the page beneath your contact info
  • Beneath it, in lowercase, add: To air (Month, Date – Month, Date, Year)
  • Write your ad in caps with 1.5 line spacing and no word breaks

Producing Radio Ads

Having pre-packaged assets available for stations, like a 30 second spot you’ve created, can be very helpful as it takes the burden of creating the ad from scratch off the station. You can easily hire talent off Fiverr to voice act and even write a jingle for your business from $25-$250.

Magazines

Now that we’ve covered Radio advertising, we’re going to completely switch gears and look into advertising in magazines. The process of getting your ad into a print magazine is completely different than that of placing a radio ad, as they typically have to be finalized 3-6 months in advance. Be sure that you’re sending your request for an ad spot to the correct person, not the editor in chief. In the first of your request, show that you’ve done your research, know what they cover, and are offering a good story/angle for their magazine.


Press releases aren’t always appealing – they can oftentimes seem impersonal. Instead, provide a personalized pitch and ask if they’d like you to provide more information. Check the magazine’s editorial guidelines or media kits, as they can give good insight to what the magazine covers. You can also check their back issues – you might be able to spot patterns there. For the trades, Culture & Home magazines are a great place to start.

 

For digital magazines, the pitch requirements are far more likely to vary depending on the publication. Digital magazine ad placements can also require more content and effort than print magazines, so oftentimes someone on the magazine’s team will create the necessary assets.

Television

Switching gears yet again, let’s take a look at what you’ll need to consider when planning your television ad. Your story will obviously need to be visual, bonus points if you can include clips of yourself in action. People don’t want to look at someone just talking unless they’re already interested in the subject or person presenting, so try to steer clear of long speaking sections.

 

The language and structure of your ad will vary depending on the timing and theme of where your ad will be placed. Typically, local TV audiences want news stories that are either useful or entertaining, so you’ll need to formulate your ad around those points if you’re advertising on a local tv station.

 

When it comes to pitching for television, being timely is the name of the game. If possible, you should pitch something that the producer can easily connect to another story, or will help to add to a story that the producer is currently working on. TV journalists often work on a day-to-day basis, meaning deadlines are always quickly approaching, so try to catch one prior to them going into the editorial room to pitch.

 

These journalists tend to get a lot of the same pitches – like donating around the holidays. Find a way to make your pitch unique with an especially catchy hook. They’re looking for things that grip viewers either positively or negatively – social/economic impact, impacts specific community, city, industry, so if there’s a way for you to work that aspect into your pitch, you’ll be more likely to get placed.

 

Keep in mind that it’s completely normal to have to pitch to a TV station multiple times, so don’t get discouraged if your first try doesn’t work out. Always ask for feedback on why you weren’t selected, and what you can do better to improve your chances. Most local tv stations have an assignment desk, or people who find compelling stories and assign reporters/producers. The best way to find these assignment desks is to google “assignment desk site:SITEURL.” – e.g. “assignment desk site:fox32chicago.com.”

 

Not sure when to pitch? Take a look at everyone’s schedules. Breakfast producers tend to work from about 5am-noon, and producers of morning shows or evening current affairs shows tend to work from 9-5pm. Unlike journalists, news anchors love when people can pitch to them over the phone.

 

You’ll also need to consider whether the segment you’ll be appearing on is live or taped – and if it’s live, always be ready to go at a moment’s notice. Be prepared with all the info you’ll need: arrival time, segment time, whether you’re doing hair/makeup, and the information they need you to provide, etc. Take the opportunity to subtly advertise your business by wearing company branded gear, like a polo or hat.

 

You can find local television broadcast stations using City Data, DTV Reception Maps, and the Corporation For Public Broadcasting.

Pitching

A pitch is a persuasive email or call you deliver to relevant media outlets and contacts to convince them why they should feature your story.

When it comes to following up with journalists and media professionals, you should always make sure that you’re being respectful of their time. 44% of journalists get a minimum of 20 pitches per day – they’re very busy people. Keep the message short but personalized. If writing, it should be under 200 words. We’d recommend that you send them an email at times where there’s more likely to be a lull – the best days to send, in order, are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday between 9am-2pm.

How you should pitch the story depends on the outlet you’re pitching to but in general…

  • Don’t go in cold. See if you know anyone who can make introductions or, when possible, try building relationships with media personalities before pitching them stories. See NETWORKING for more suggestions.
  • Don’t email everyone for one story, only email media personalities when you have something of real value that fits what they cover.
  • Take time to personalize correspondence, indicating that you selected that person because you thought they might harbor an interest in what you have to say.

 

As for how you should format a pitch:

 

Contact Information

  • Send correponses from a personal email account – e.g. instead of “info@samsplumbing.com” email with a real person’s email address like sam@samsplumbing.com or even your personal gmail account (ex: samwalker@gmail.com) so long as the name is professional.
  • Personalize your email signature with your photo, title, contact information, social media profiles, and business name and contact information. This will make it easy to follow up with you if they’re interested in your pitch, assure them you’re the right person to speak to, and make you look professional.

 

Subject

  • Grab their attention with a good subject line – you can find ideas here.
  • For busy reporters/large news outlets, be upfront and clear about what the email is about, like titling the subject line: “PITCH:” followed by the title of your pitch. For smaller outlets, take a more personalized approach.
  • Make your subject line clear and concise, 61 to 70 characters

 

Greeting

  • Addresses the person you’re pitching to by name
  • If you’re going in cold, you can personalize the email with a quick sentence at the beginning to connect but only if you have something real – don’t be disingenuous. For example, you might say: “Your piece ___ got me thinking and show how a similar story performed well in the past vs. piece you’re pitching” – otherwise, get to the point fast.

 

Pitch

  • Include a sentence saying why the content is relevant to their audience or particularly beneficial to their audience.

 

Body Text

  • Follow this sentence with a more detailed summary of the pitch – the easier to read and skim this information is, the better. Use short sentences, bullet points, subheadings, etc.

 

Conclusion

  • Explain where the target can find the content you’re offering: as an attachment, on your webpage, etc.
  • Tell them the next steps, like how they can connect with you
  • Thank them for their time

Following Up

As a general rule of thumb, you should wait between 2-4 days before following up.

 

You can change the subject line slightly, but make sure that it’s still clear and concise, between 61-70 characters. You can add additional value but just saying you wanted to put this back on their radar in case it was buried in their inbox is enough.

PR TOols

Using these PR tools can help you build and organize your media lists, find journalists looking for stories, manage your follow-ups, and write clear pitches that increase your chances of getting featured. We’ve also included a few free PR websites and resources on how to find reporters to help you get started.

Email tools

Gmail

Gmail is one of the most powerful tools for managing your PR messages, not just because of the platform itself but the many free add-ons available to supercharge the experience. In Gmail, you can set up custom templates and filters that automatically send out a specific reply when certain messages come in, set up contact lists, personalize your email signature, and even “snooze” emails, which will remind you to follow up with them later.

 

Boomerang for Gmail

This tool allows you to automate follow-up emails for free. Boomerang helps track your responses, so if a user doesn’t reply, you’ll get a reminder after a set time period you select with an option to include a note. You can also schedule follow-up messages as you’re writing the first email and then decide whether you want to send that email automatically if the recipient doesn’t reply within a set amount of time or manually send it.

 

Mailtrack

Mailtrack is for desktop and phone lets you know when your emails are delivered and opened – and how many times they’re opened. While you can use it for free, it will include a Mailtrack signature at the bottom that lets recipients know you’re tracking their email. So, it’s a good idea to upgrade to the $5.99-$9.99/month plan. Then, you’ll be able to also see when recipients open emails privately.

 

Personalize your email signatures with tools like Gimmio, MySignature, Hubspot’s Email Signature Template, or Mail Signatures.

Writing Tools

Grammarly & HemingwayApp help you to edit your writing and keep your sentences free from grammatical errors. Grammarly even has a helpful web extension you can download so that it will edit grammar on your social media posts, emails, or documents and other apps you use inside your browser like Google Docs and FieldPulse, so your press releases and invoices are mistake-free and read professionally.

Brand/News Tracking

Google News

Google News provides an extensive collection of news stories from different sources across the internet, both local and national. You can follow specific topics for your industry (e.g. plumber), location, brand name, save searches like ‘dallas winter storm’, or view top news stories from specific publications.

 

Google Alerts

Google Alerts, meanwhile, allows you to keep tabs on specific search topics as they appear in Google’s news or inside Google’s search results. So, if a website mentions your brand or a competitors’, you’ll get an alert inside your inbox.

 

BoardReader

BoardReader searches online forums, message boards, and blogs to find mentions of specific topics or keywords, like your brand name.

 

These websites, meanwhile, can be used to find daily trending topics that you can piggyback news onto:

 

 

Blogs and news sites about your trade can also keep you updated about the latest industry trends and popular stories. For example, HVAC businesses can benefit from achrnews, forums like HVAC Talk.

Free PR Websites

Haro (Help A Reporter)

Haro sends out daily emails with journalists seeking experts. While this isn’t ideal for local exposure, it’s a great way to get mentions from big media outlets that can help boost your business’ credibility and give your SEO a little boost.

 

Radio Guest List

Radio Guest List will send you a list of podcasts, radio programs, and television show producers looking for guest stars.

 

Source Bottle

Like Haro, Source Bottle sends out emails with journalists looking for sources for stories.

 

Qwoted

In Qwoted, you can easily pitch to reporters looking for sources from directly inside the app with in-app messages and alerts when pitches are seen.

 

Twitter

Twitter can be a valuable resource for research. Often journalists will use the following hashtags to find sources for articles they’re writing: #journorequest, #journorequests, #prrequest, #prrequests, #UrgHaro, #HARO, #mediarequest, #sourcerequest, #helpareporter. You can save these searches and occasionally browse the tag as well as follow journalists on social media and scan their feeds frequently to see if they might be working on a story you can contribute to.

Find Reporter Contacts

Hunter

Hunter searches through the web to uncover email addresses associated with a company. You get 25 free searches every month. It can help you find the author of a piece or the email of a specific person, and verify deliverability of emails.

 

A News Tip

You can use A News Tip to find relevant media contacts and even see relevant tweets they’ve made you can reply to.

 

Media.Info

Media.Info provides users with a list of contacts for radio, television, newspapers, and magazines.

 

And just like that, you’re ready to get started on your PR efforts! Taking on PR can be a daunting task, but hopefully you’re feeling more prepared after reading this article. But it doesn’t stop there! We’ve also included a few templates in the main PR section of our Playbook, because who wants to start from scratch? Keep in mind that the information we’ve provided above is a very basic and high-level overview of the basics you’ll need to know in order to get started on your PR efforts. If you’re still not feeling comfortable enough to take this task on by yourself, there’s nothing wrong with hiring a PR or Marketing expert on contract to handle it for you.

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