Getting in the press for free for your small business

How to get in the press for free – 16 key points to FREE PR success for small businesses

Business owners often tell me that I make it look easy getting in the press and while that may be true it really doesn’t in my viewpoint take rocket science for you to achieve that too.

Mandie Holgate at No 10 talking about small business

Admittedly in the past I’ve worked closely with Voom Media run by Vanessa Moon, but that was purely because I’ve wanted to concentrate on other areas of my work and not as much on PR. As Vanessa used to say I naturally gave her a lot to work with thanks to writing books, world record speaking gigs, awards and speaking up for women in business, mental health and Lupus causes.

Long before that I paid for 1 press release in 2009 and then learnt how to do it for myself. I’m self-taught and you can do it too.

So here are my 16 top tips to getting in the press for free.

(Just remember it will cost you your time, so make your time count, don’t get distracted by social media, get on with it, and get it out there!) And if you think you can dip in and out of this, think again. As with any area of your marketing strategy you need to be consistent with this. My marketing production line (there’s a course on how to create a powerful marketing strategy here) really is the basis of this, but this should get you started;

  1. Write a press release about something that is happening in the national news from a local viewpoint. If you’ve never done a press release before here are a few pointers; Don’t try and sell anything. Speak third party, i.e.; International author and speaker Mandie Holgate added “….. (Unless you are being asked to share your personal viewpoint in a column for instance.)
  2. Finish with END and then add a short bio (usually only a couple of lines) explaining why you are the expert and why its relevant. (Still not salesly!) Add contact details and website if relevant to do so.
  3. It must have a killer headline. Something that the reader (and editor will instantly want to read). (Don’t know what words to include? You probably if you have completed my finding your target audience course and blogging course you will know what your power words are and how to get them into the conversation.)
  4. Pictures really do paint a thousand words. So, add a great image that tells your story.
  5. Don’t try and cover too many topics in one article. It will get messy and unclear of your purpose for writing.
  6. Know who you are writing for. And no that’s not you, that’s the publication. They are not a charity they want to increase sales. So, their publication needs to be interesting, useful and relevant to their target audience. Make their life easier and provide that kind of content. Really think about their readers and what their readers want to read.
  7. We all know which papers are more inclined to support which political parties and which views to consider if your views match up to that publication. It’s not likely to feature if it doesn’t!
  8. Get yourself known as a thought leader in your industry by writing blog articles that you share in multiple ways. Social media is used by journalists to find experts to speak about all sorts of subjects so what do you want to be known for? Get blogging, vlogging and sharing your views on that subject, and make sure you do this regularly.
  9. Listen to local radio and buy the local papers that you wish to feature in. If they are covering a subject and you can give them the local view on this, phone them! This way you also understand their style of communication and how you will need to adapt to fit into this. Remember the news is fast paced so hiding behind email is not going to be the best course of action. As scary as it is pick up the phone. No one but the person on the end will know what you said or how good (or bad) you were. Practice in advance to feel more confident. You can post a mini Facebook live practice on my mastermind group (The Insiders) Or write out what you are going to say and post to the Insiders. You know it’s confidential and we will support you to do a great job.
  10. If and when you get on the radio or to speak to a journalist remember nothing is off the record and if you sell at them, you won’t get a second chance. My son was once named as Harriett! Don’t be precious about your story or content – it may not be the right thing for you to do if you feel you can’t be desensitised to your story.
  11. Share your big news. And if its salesy, don’t do it! Partner up with a local charity and help them raise their profile. Host an event for a local charity and get in touch with the press to tell them more. First year in business? First member of staff? Awarded a grant? New premises? Sold your first product to the US/or outside of the UK? Won an award? Read the publication in question to understand what they consider newsworthy. When I wrote Fight the fear I featured in lots and lots of publications. From national press to local and specialised publications like the Institute of Directors magazine. Every story was written with a different angle respectful of the audience I was targeting. So, writing it once and sharing it won’t necessarily work.
  12. Have a strong view on a subject? Be prepared to back it up and to have some people not like your views and speak out! If you can’t cope with trolls again, maybe don’t do this. My first troll was brought down beautifully by half a dozen clients. I said nothing. And had no intention of doing so. We can’t agree with everyone can we?
  13. Check out the hashtag #Journorequests. And if you are thinking of writing a press release and dumping it on your website and adding the #journorequest to a link to your article on social media, then think again. Seriously respect how busy and how many tight deadlines journalists have. And don’t ask for my journalist friends contact details. I too respect their busy schedules far too much to let them be spammed by people who just don’t get how to use PR in their business.
  14. Don’t wait to jump on a story. You are likely to miss out. If you can be responsive and fast journalists and radio stations will appreciate your professionalism and your respect for their deadlines. And you will get invited back.
  15. Don’t give up. Remember that the news moves fast. So, your story could be great but if a volcano grounds half of the worlds airplanes, then your story will get pushed. It doesn’t mean they aren’t interested so follow up. Be respectful and try again.
  16. Don’t share your press release on social media. If you have sent it to 1 publication, give them time to publish it before you take it to another publication or promote what you’ve written on social media. Newspapers, magazines and radio shows are competing for readers attention all the time. So, giving the story to someone else stops it being exclusive to them. You won’t get another chance with them!

I’d like to make a promise to you. If you take action on this let me know you get on. If you’ve not joined my mastermind group it’s for business men and women, charities and anyone responsible for the sustainability and growth of people and an organisation. And we are very good at looking after each other, supporting each other, sharing high quality advice and ideas and they get free coaching and mentoring from me on every subject they confidentially post. I’d love to welcome you too.

Mandie holgate talking about fight the fear in Red Magazine expert on mindset
Me featuring in Red Magazine – UK Glossy magazine for women.

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