How to grow your biz with free PR

I doubt very much anyone does NOT know how publicity in the press and the other media can dramatically boost their business by almost frightening proportions.

But what most don’t know is how easy it can be and that they don’t need to use a PR firm to do it (my observation has been the PR firms I’ve dealt with have not been up to much, for a number of reasons).

Of course, as you’re probably already aware, PR and expert positioning go hand in hand, which means they’re both inextricably linked to premium pricing, too.

After all, if you’re the guy or gal on the TV as the resident industry expert, no one coming to you for advice is going to be expecting bargain-basement prices (you wouldn’t expect Mr Motivator to be working for £15 an hour from a dingy side-street gym, would you?).


How to Become the Media Darling

The first thing to realise is you’re already an expert and you don’t need any special qualifications to be wheeled out in front of the camera or featured in the newspaper. The fact you know more about your business than the average Joe in the street makes you an expert.

The second thing to realise is... the media experts you see are no more expert than you are, give or take.

The only difference between you is... they’re in the limelight and you aren’t.

And getting yourself in the limelight is as simple as persuading a journalist or a producer you have information their audience would find interesting, entertaining and informative.

You do that with a press release. A press release is simply a shorthand way of telling someone in the media you have a story for them.

And this is where most people get it horribly wrong.

You see, they make the press release all about them and their business.

But journalists doesn’t care about that. All they care about is pleasing the editor and filling the pages with interesting stuff. 

You aren’t even on the radar.

So your press release must be a sales pitch, not for your products and services but for the notion that you have a story the journalist can use to make his or her life easier.

We’ll look at this in detail in a future post, and I can post some examples in the Forums if anyone's interested, but the gist of it is your press release should read like any other sales piece, in that it conforms to the AIDA formula, has a headline, is benefit-rich and ends up with a call to action (you can even put in scarcity, and it works like a charm).

What the journalist wants is to look good to his or her readers, and if you can make that happen, you’ve got a friend for life (and this all applies to TV and radio the same as it does to print media).

And then there’s content writing

Many local publications are crying out for quality content.

Remember: every issue they print has to contain enough quality information not only to fill the pages but also to keep the readers, and thus the advertisers, coming back for more in the next issue.

Needless to say, this can be stressful and somewhat trying for the publisher and the journalist.

This is why you’ll often find local publications will gladly take your editorial material and print it as a regular column, especially if it’s good quality and is useful and informative for the readers. They’ll be even happier when they don’t have to pay you for it.

I know, I know, every writer out there will hate you for “writing for free”, but screw them, and in any case it’s not true. Because you are getting quid pro quo, and while you can’t have too overt a call to action in your piece, you get instant expert status.

I used to write a monthly piece for the West Cork People. It took me maybe 30 minutes a month, got me essentially a full page of advertising, and brought in a €30,000 chunk of work plus some other bits and pieces.

And it also gave me content to reuse elsewhere plus that coveted expert positioning.


So get off your arse and canvas all your local publications and do your best to get yourself some free marketing by offering quality content to them. 

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