Many consider a mention in the local newspaper or online to be "free marketing." The truth is that it is not truly free. Press coverage is not free, even if you are not paying for that coverage like you pay for advertising. Making connections and pitching your story takes time. As the saying goes, "time is money." In today's world, small businesses have more access to press coverage than ever. Implementing quality public relations (PR) strategies, however, is a learning process that requires time and effort.
Reporters and Bloggers
You cannot pay reporters to write positively about your business. You must remember that you are not in charge of their story. You cannot stop a reporter from saying negative things about your brand, or recommending another business over yours. It is doubtful that a reporter will show you their article or report before it is posted.
Bloggers often allow guest – or sponsored posts – on their blog. This means you, as the business owner, pay the blogger to write about you. The blogger may not own the site or have the final say in what goes on it, but some bloggers are also the owners or chief administrators. You have more control over these articles because you are paying the blogger to write about you. Bloggers may write about you for free if they like your business. A customer might even be a blogger, and if they decide to write for you for free, you will not have control over the content.
"You must create a pitch in order to draw bloggers and writers to your attention. A pitch describes what you do and who you are as a business. It tells the reporter or blogger why they should be writing about you," said Christine Flipp, owner of Hair Loss Solutions.
A dentist, for example, will create a pitch about a new medication or treatment technique they use. A pathologist might write about what drove him or her to pursue their particular profession.
Being the only alternative healthcare provider in the area is cause for implementing PR. Pitches should be direct and to the point. Read some work by the writer before approaching him or her with your pitch.
Your Press Release
If you do not have a PR firm at your disposal, you can still distribute press releases through services like PR Newswire. There is a variety of media outlets with varying costs. Your press release must be interesting and contain new information that appeals to a variety of people. Press releases are not associated with a particular reporter or writer. They appeal to a broader audience because they are fact-oriented, not based on opinion.
After you have written and published your press release, be sure to share it on your personal and business social media networks. This will help draw more customers to your site and improve your conversions. Remember to focus on local press coverage rather than national coverage. Local press ensures people in your area know of your business and will come by to see it, or even become a customer.