Wedding Finance

4 tips for doing your own PR as a small business owner

  • Jen Glantz is an entrepreneur and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire.
  • She does her own public relations for her business and uses several strategies to gain media coverage.
  • She sets up Google Alerts for industry keywords and connects with journalists to be an expert source.

When I started my business in 2014, I had no money for an advertising budget. Initially, I only invested a few thousand dollars in my business, and all of that money went towards creating the website and hiring legal and accounting professionals.

I knew that any marketing I did would have to be done myself using free tools and relying on social media.

I quickly realized that whenever my business was mentioned in the media, my website traffic has increased significantly (I tracked this using Google Analytics). I decided to spend two hours a week trying to get more press mentions and tapping into what little PR knowledge I had picked up working in the industry for a year.

Over the past seven years I have been featured in various media outlets doing all of my own public relations. Here are the exact strategies I use.

1. Configure Google Alerts

If you’re new to building your own PR, one of the first things you should do is set up free Google Alerts on topics, topics, competitors, and keyphrases relevant to your business or industry.

With alerts, Google will send you an email with new stories and content containing those keywords. You can set these alerts to come into your inbox hourly, daily, or weekly.

I recommend spending about 30 minutes a week reading the alerts and analyzing the types of stories the media is focusing on for your industry. This will help you brainstorm ideas and angles for presenting various selling points.

I spend an extra 30 minutes a week writing a list of relevant topics (based on current events, time of year, or new trends in my industry). Then I write an introductory email to send to my media list (more on the media list below) and spend an extra hour sending out those emails each week. I use my specific alerts to guide my presentations and make them timely, organized and relevant to what different outlets are covering in real time.

2. Publish yourself as a source

Figure out what topics you could be an expert source on based on your industry or position within your company. Then you can create a profile on a PR source website, like Qwoted, so the media can find you when they have a story where you would be a perfect fit.

You can also sign up for free newsletters such as Help a Reporter Out to get updates on stories journalists are working on and seeking sources for. This newsletter is organized by category (finance, business, lifestyle, etc.), so all you have to do is scan the sections that concern you. Every afternoon, I scan this newsletter (especially the lifestyle section) and spend 20 minutes a day responding to requests that match my expertise as a wedding expert and entrepreneur. I write a response with what I would contribute to their article, my bio, and links to my website and social media. At least once a week I get a mention in the press just for doing this.

3. Take a one-time class

If you’re new to doing your own PR, it might be beneficial for you to take a one-time class to develop a game plan.

You can select a course based on the type of media placements you hope to get or take a more general course. There are tons of online courses on websites like Skillshare.

Years ago, I took a simple primer on public relations that helped me understand who to pitch stories to, what kind of angles to think about, and how often to contact the media. It gave me a good starting point to do my own public relations.

4. Build relationships with journalists

Look for a list of 10 people in the media who often cover the topics or themes your brand represents. Every quarter, I update my media list with the names of media contacts, both locally and nationally, and for all different types of media, from cable morning shows to print newspapers, podcasts and websites. I find these names by scanning posts and following personal media on Linkedin to see if they have changed jobs.

Once I find the name of someone to contact (whether it’s the podcast host or the morning show producer), I use Anymail Finder, a free tool that helps find their email address. I send an email to introduce myself and share the topics I can talk about. After that introductory email, I contact them at least once every 90 days to update them on any ideas I have.

I also recommend connecting with the same people on social media to stay up to date with the content they’re producing and casually commenting on something they’ve shared when you get a genuine reaction. This will help them start putting a face to your name when you contact them via email.

If you’re eager to do your own PR, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to hire a PR agency. Instead, set aside a few hours a week to do research and contact the media and before you know it, you could land the media placement of your dreams.