By Stacey Zable

Ready to expand your business through public relations efforts? An article in last month’s newsletter focused on a basic understanding of public relations and publicity. This second part on the topic offers practical publicity tips you can do on your own to boost sales and your client base.  

TIP #1: Get to Know Your Media
Relationships are the key to public relations, so start by getting to know your local media by simply taking them out for coffee, says Charles Mardiks, President of Mardiks Public Relations in Brooklyn, N.Y. “Pick their brain to find out what their hot buttons are, what they’re currently working on, and how you can be a resource for them.”

While building relationships with media, don’t forget that “you need them more than they need you,” says Dick Grove, Founder and CEO of INK inc Public Relations in Overland Park, Kansas. “You’re asking them for their valuable space or time to tell your story,” he adds. “You have to earn it with real news and respect for their needs, not just yours. A small business can build solid long term relationships with the media that can pay dividends over time by simply following these basic rules.”

Tip #2: Hook the Media with Impactful Communication
Most media prefer to be contacted through emails over phone calls, according to Megan Bennett, CEO of Light Years Ahead in Overland Park, Kansas. “Create a compelling email pitch about your brand and make sure that the subject line is provocative and gets the media to open and read what you send,” she says. “Make your email short and to the point and offer samples or interviews (depending on what your brand is.)” 

Press releases are also important communication tools. Michelle Olson, APR, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) 2021 Chair and Managing Partner of Lambert & Co. in Scottsdale, Ariz., suggests small business owners “learn the basic tenets of a good press release and write them with the news first and then supporting facts.” She adds: “Keep [press releases] short and to the point and always include contact information. There are very good examples online for reference.”

Tip #3: Get Creative and Timely 
Give reporters something to write about by designing deals that directly target niche markets and tap into lifestyle trends or holidays, says Mardiks. His timely suggestion for right now is creating Mother’s or Father’s Day deals or gift recommendations that can be shared with local media doing gift guides or dedicated stories on the spring holidays. A special offer code to get the deal can track sales that come from the media coverage. Another idea from Mardiks is to run contests or sweepstakes with radio stations. Besides getting your business’s name out there, the contest can require opt-in emails to participate that you can use to track and grow your client database.

Tip #4: Not One and Done
To find success in public relations, you need tenacity. PR is a marathon, not a sprint—this is not a one and done game,” says Mardiks. “Just sending out one press release and hoping for the best will not get you very far. You need to be in front of the media on a frequent basis. Don’t be a nuisance, but be persistent in a pleasant and helpful way.” 

Bennett adds: “If a media contact tells you no, try again in six months. If they still say no and you think the outlet is a good fit, contact another editor from the same outlet and try with them. Eventually, someone will say YES!”