8 PR hacks for small businesses

Small Business Advice 2 May 2019
Street_performance_at_the_Fringe_1_(credit_David_Monteith-Hodge)

“Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.” Richard Branson

Unlike most entrepreneurs, Richard Branson, Stelios and Elon Musk are household names. They really know how to play the media and get maximum exposure for themselves and their companies.

OK, so you’re not quite in their league…yet. But, with the help of these 8 PR hacks, you could be on your way.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company through articles rather than ads, so it makes sense to use PR for your business.

However, because using a professional PR company can be expensive, here’s some advice on how to do your own and save a lot of money.

 

  1. Contact journalists who are looking for help with news and stories.

Journalists and bloggers are always looking for help with articles or programmes on various subjects. If you type either of these hashtags: #journorequest or #prrequest into the Twitter search box, you’ll find loads of requests from journalists and bloggers on every conceivable subject. Try it now.

You should find one or more that apply to your industry, so tweet them back and offer to help. It’s free and you could build up some really useful PR and contacts.

 

  1. Media enquiry services.

Media enquiry services connect journalists with experts and people from all walks of life and all business sectors. Some are free and others offer free trials.

You can also sign up for media enquiry services like Response Source, Gorkana, Journolink, Ask Charity, Help A Reporter Out or Sourcebottle. You’ll get regular email updates from journalists who are looking for experts and case studies to feature in their work, including some high-profile national publications. Some media enquiry databases are free and others offer free trials, so you can start building your media contacts immediately.

  1. Response Source.

With UK-based Response Source Media Contacts Database you can search for journalists who write about your sector, brand, competitors or clients. You can see what topics a contact usually covers based on the recent articles they’ve written and see which media contacts are talking about your sector on Twitter.  

Check them out on this YouTube link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56rC8SAqeWg&feature=youtu.be

  1. Gorkana/Cision

Gorkana, now trading as Cision, has the industry’s most comprehensive media database of 1.6 million media contacts, outlets and editorial opportunities to connect with key influencers worldwide.

They offer a range of different services from audience distribution and list building to results analysis.

  1. JournoLink

JournoLink enables journalists, bloggers and broadcasters to send requests to your inbox, and lets you reply directly to them.

In addition, they offer a press release distribution function, which lets you send your stories to over 10,000 journalists, bloggers and broadcasters. They give you a  box of PR tricks including a press release template and a knowledge base to make writing your press releases easier.

JournoLink also has a calendar giving details of networking trade shows, and award programmes, with key news dates to help you plan your PR.

  1. AskCharity

AskCharity is a free service designed to help journalists and charities work together. Journalists can use it to find case studies, spokespeople and information from charities. Charities can use it to build their media contacts and coverage.

  1. Expertsources

Register with Expertsources and your details are always displayed to the media whenever a journalist’s keyword search matches one or more of the keywords you have included for yourself and your organisation.

With more than 5,000 recorded media searches a month, they enable professional experts, academics, companies, associations, charities and business consultants to promote themselves and their organisations directly to regional, national and international journalists.

They charge a modest fee.

 

  1. Get more visible on Twitter

Perhaps Donald Trump tweets frequently because he knows that most journalists hang out on Twitter. As mentioned earlier, they use it to look for help with stories they’re working on. Here are some things you should do to get greater visibility:

  •      Make sure your profile is up-to-date.
  •      Have a 24/7 phone number, because you never know when they’ll want to get in touch.
  •      Tweets with hashtags are proven to double the engagement rate, grow more followers and improve reputation.
  •      Make a list of journalists you’d like to connect with and follow them on Twitter.
  •      Check in regularly to see what they’re talking about and comment on or share their tweets. Don’t go over the top though.
  •      Tweet on a regular basis with funny and newsy, but relevant tweets.

 

  1. Get more visible on LinkedIn

Journalists also look for contacts on LinkedIn, so here’s what you should do to get visibility:

  •      Have an up-to-date profile.
  •      Show examples of your work/products, or a link to your website.
  •      If you have one, include a short video clip of you talking or presenting.
  •      Take another look at your ‘professional headline’ (the one-liner under your name). Keep it simple and free of jargon.
  •      Post high-quality content and if it gains momentum, LinkedIn will put a spotlight behind it in one of their categories; so it could get tens of thousands of extra readers.
  •      Join groups — and stay active. You can message members of groups you are in, even if you aren’t connected with LinkedIn InMail.
  •      Create your own LinkedIn group. Why not? Then join groups where your prospects hang out  – LinkedIn allows you 50. You can then build an email list and a following.

 

  1. Get more visible on Instagram

According to social media blogger, Patrick Whatman, “Many small businesses – from hair salons, to fashion boutiques, cafés and restaurants – owe much of their success to Instagram.”

As a photo and video-sharing network, visual content performs really well on Instagram. So, if your business falls under categories such as food & drink, design, travel, fashion, lifestyle and home decoration you should use it.

Some claim it has become the Holy Grail for social media marketers. Here’s what you should do to get more visibility:

  •      Turn on post notifications for accounts you follow. Just click the three dots at the top of their profile and select ‘Turn on Post Notifications’.
  •      Should you switch to an Instagram business profile and get free analytics? Check this out for the pros and cons: https://later.com/blog/instagram-business-profile/
  •      Post an Instagram story every day. That way, even if their algorithms change again, you should keep your content at the top of everyone’s feed.
  •      Involve your followers in different ways; from contests, polls and tutorials, to behind-the-scenes stories of your business.
  •      Neil Patel, author and social media guru, found that for every 100 photos he randomly liked, he received an average of 21.7 likes and 6.1 new followers. It depends if you want quantity and not quality of followers.
  •      Delete inappropriate comments as they could harm your reputation or brand.
  •      Bear in mind that with Instagram, you only get website clicks based on new followers. To add new followers, you need to post effective, regular content AND keep on top of new features in order to remain in the algorithm’s good books.
  •      Alex Moresco, founder of A Moresco PR, shares her story of how she makes a living through Instagram on You Tube. Take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Zx6UxfBh18
  •      To download a copy of Hubspot’s Instagram Engagement Report 2019, click here: https://offers.hubspot.com/instagram-engagement-report?utm_source=hscm-mention-022019-instagram-engagement-report-blg&__hstc=&__hssc=&hsCtaTracking=b2dd580e-767c-4a68-b224-cc4ea07f0cf6%7Cc48eb26d-868d-4a40-b6d4-8c3b225158bf

 

  1. Get more visible on Facebook

In January 2018, Facebook announced that its news feed algorithm would in future, give priority to posts from friends and family. They explained, “posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to”, would now get more visibility.

So, to get greater visibility for your business in the news feed, you need to create posts that encourage more comments and sharing.

  •      Whatever you do, don’t give a heavy sales pitch on Facebook. Make them laugh, inform, inspire, intrigue, tell a story…  
  •      Keep it short. Why? Because a massive 88% of Facebook users use mobile devices.
  •      Include a photo on your post simply because they get higher-than-average engagement rates. Video posts are even more popular.
  •      Create a Facebook group. More than 200 million people are members of Facebook groups. And also connect with fellow entrepreneurs and thought leaders in your industry.
  •      Don’t ask for likes and shares. Facebook considers this engagement bait and will down-rank your posts in the Facebook algorithm.

 

  1. Get more visible on Pinterest

According to Connor McCreesh, the man who famously grew his Instagram business account from 0–250,000 followers in 10 months, Pinterest is also worth looking at.

It’s the 2nd biggest referrer of traffic online, after Facebook and drives five times as much traffic as Twitter. So, here are a few tips:

  •      Put keywords on your account name and descriptions.
  •      Create between 10–20 boards based on your sector and influencer accounts.
  •      Post as much as you can on a daily basis.
  •      You need to get followers to start getting good repin counts. Start by following the followers of your identified influencers.
  •      Create your own pins and direct them to your website, then create your own versions of these for your blog posts.
  •      Don’t just pin your own stuff, follow other pinners and pin their images if you think they might interest your audience.

 

  1. Newsjacking with Google

Newsjacking is a concept popularised by David Meerman Scott who wrote that the old PR model of sending out press releases or pitches is outdated in our era of instant communications.

He explained that businesses can generate free media coverage by linking their products, services or brands with breaking news stories.

In order to do that, businesses and their PR agencies kept abreast of the news by monitoring the media closely through Google and other social media. They then set up alerts in the media by using keywords in areas connected to their brands.

So, every time a news item broke that was related to one of their keywords, businesses and their agencies would receive an alert, usually an email. If relevant, they would then get in touch with the journalist and offer more information and expert opinions for their stories.

 

So if you would like to start newsjacking, all you have to do is go to: https://www.google.com/alerts and type in the key words relating to your area of expertise.

Every time Google come across the key words, they’ll send you an email. You can choose to receive them at a particular time of day or, if you prefer, you can get a digest of all your alerts weekly.

If you spot a story where you think you could add expert comment on radio/TV or by writing an opinion article, get in touch and tell them you can help.

 

Make way Branson and Musk

Armed with these eight PR hacks, we hope you’ll start making a big name for yourself and your business in the press, social media, radio and maybe even TV.

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