We see DIY successes all around us online and in the media, from home renovations and decorating to artistic Pinterest creations. Of course, there are professionals in every field, just waiting to help us with our various endeavours, but if you’ve ever decided to DIY something, you’ll know the satisfying feeling of accomplishment that comes with solving a problem on your own.
Small to medium enterprises know the value of marketing, but often need to get off the ground before adding a service provider, like a public relations agency, to their support team. If this describes the point you’ve reached in your business journey, why not inject some life into your product or service offering with a little DIY PR? It does take time and energy, but we promise you’ll feel that same sense of achievement once you start seeing your efforts converting into new sales or customer inquiries.
Public relations is about increasing awareness of your product or service by communicating with your target audience in a way that resonates and gets them to act. So, how do you get yourself in front of journalists? How do you identify the places your target audience is getting their information? How do you stay on top of it all once you’ve started?
Here are our top tools for doing it yourself:
As a business owner, the feeling of being pulled in many different directions is probably familiar to you. If you’re handling your own marketing and PR, a service like Buffer is going to be a life saver. Buffer is a platform that allows you to schedule all your social media posts ahead of time. It features a dashboard calendar so you can see all your upcoming content and check in once a week – or even less frequently – letting your social media manage itself. You’ll still need to find some time to engage with your audience ‘live’ on social media – replying to comments, answering questions, etc. – but a tool like Buffer can save significant amounts of time when it comes to more standard postings.
If you’re pitching the media, Cision will quickly become your best friend. Cision’s media database contains more than a billion media contacts, including traditional journalists and online influencers. If you’re taking the time to pitch ideas to journalists, maximize your efficiency and impact by speaking to the right person at the right publication. When using Cision, we recommend creating your own database with names, contact details and what the journalist or influencer would specifically like to hear about, so that all the information you need is on file in one place. Cision isn’t the cheapest tool in the box, but if you can afford the fees, it’s a worthwhile investment.
Simple (yet comprehensive) and very user-friendly, Canva’s platform allows you to remove the graphic design middleman and create graphics, design templates, social media imagery, and other visual content on your own time. The platform integrates millions of fonts, images and templates and can be used on your desktop or smart phone. While a subscription costs between $10 and $30 per month, you can also access thousands of images and templates completely free of charge, making it ideal for smaller or newer businesses with budget constraints.
HARO – short for Help A Reporter Out – is a great place to connect with journalists looking for experts in your field. The site distributes journalist and blogger queries (more than 50,000 last year alone) allowing them to more easily locate expert sources, with the added benefit of helping companies tell their stories. You can expect to see requests for information from all types of media outlets, from specialized trade publications to highly respected national outlets. A basic HARO subscription is free, delivering media opportunities to your inbox three times a day. Paid subscriptions offer more features, including key word searches, and run from $20 to $149 per month, depending on your specific needs.
With 500 million tweets sent each day and 330 million active users each month, Twitter has become one of the most powerful communications tools in the world. It’s used by Presidents and top celebrities, but it’s also used by journalists, who often talk about topics they’re interested in and writing about. Twitter can be another great way to connect with reporters, following what they’re writing about and giving you insights into how you could pitch your business and your story to them.
Similar to HARO, ProfNet provides opportunities for businesses and journalists to connect. Journalists use ProfNet to find subject matter experts to inform or quote in their articles in return for publicity when the piece is published. Positioning yourself as an expert in your area is an excellent way to raise awareness of your company as a trustworthy and knowledgeable product or service provider. ProfNet, which is owned by Cision, is a paid service – but just as with Cision, the dollars are typically well spent.
Press releases are also an important tool for sharing your own company announcements in your own voice. Even after the news has been released and reported, journalists, prospective clients and even your customers can go back and see what you achieved over a period of time. It’s the perfect way to archive news – and to share announcements or updates in your own voice. PRWeb is a press release distribution service that disseminates your news release to a tailored list of reporters and relevant news outlets, but also increases the visibility of your press release in major search engine results. Pricing starts at $99 per press release (with a 10% discount on your first distribution), up to $389 per release.
There’s a lot to consider when promoting your business. The key is to focus your efforts in a few places most relevant to your business needs, rather than spreading yourself too thin. As you can see, there are many tools available to support you and help you achieve the results you’re looking for.
And, when you are ready to bring in some outside public relations support, drop us a note! We’d love to chat: firstname.lastname@example.org.