7 Steps to Prepare Your Business for Publicity Success in 2017

The public relations lessons you’re going to learn today could change your business forever, by helping you increase your chances of getting press in 2017, and that press will grow your visibility, sales and so much more. In fact, if there is a magazine, newspaper, website, or TV show you’ve been dreaming of appearing on, this is where the journey to that dream begins, so let’s get going!

Here’s What I’m NOT Going to Give You: Fluffy advice or broad statements that leave you with little more insight or action plans than you began with.

Here’s What I AM Going to Give You: 7 PR building blocks that you can work on, step-by-step, that will help ensure that 2017 is the year — your year — for publicity and on a local or national level.

1. It’s All About the Relationships, Here’s How You’ll Build Relationships That Lead to Results

Just like you and me, the press are likely to respond more quickly and give your email and business a little bit more attention if they recognize your name or that of your business, so it’s imperative to spend time growing relationships with them, getting to know who they are, and helping them get to know who you and your business are as well.
Here how to begin that process:

Start Connecting with Them on Social Media:

Start to connect with your media targets (that you discover through good, old-fashioned research) on Twitter or Instagram. Follow them to get insight into the stories they’re working on and their personalities, and be sure to engage with them on these social platforms. Connecting here should be authentic (don’t fake it or force it), consistent (more than once a month, folks), and strategic. If you want to really stand out amongst all the other social media “noise” in these situations you’ll want to go beyond simply “hearing” or retweeting what they say, you want to actually comment, reply, and converse with them!

Raise Your Game with a Praise Email:

This is one of my favorite ways to build a relationship with members of the press because it’s not only high impact, it feels good too! Make the time to write emails to the media contacts that you are hoping to pitch and grow a relationship with that praises something they wrote or produced lately, without asking for anything in return. It’s “all praise, no pitch”. Perhaps you mention one of their columns that you loved recently or a shopping guide they created that really stood out because of “xyz”. Be specific, be real, and again, make it a quick complimentary note, not a request.

I know it can be tempting to immediately reach out to a contact once you hunt down their email address or phone number, but if you slow down and use one of these relationship-building moves first, it will be worth the effort by making your outreach more effective in the long run.

2. Get Your Brand “Fully Dressed”

What do you do the moment you meet or hear about a new business? You check out their website and hop on their social feeds to get to know them. The press are the same. So be sure you’re ready to be seen, prior to pitching. Here are some things you want to review and “dress up” before pressing send on any emails to the press:

Your Social Media Feeds:

Make sure you have an updated profile, description, and web link. Also be sure that you have recent, relevant activity on your feed and are free from spam (and angry Twitter tirades to airlines, etc.)

Check your Website:

Does it need updating? More specifically, check for an updated biography and “About Us”, this is how they are going to get to know you and you can control how they do that, so put some effort into this.

Easy to find contact information:

I also suggest choosing actual contact information (email address, phone number) instead of a “contact us form”.

3. Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan

There’s nothing more frustrating than having a head full of PR and marketing ideas and the energy to execute them, but feeling like your work is disorganized. Not being sure of what to do when, and where to go next will waste time and money, and lead to missed press opportunities. To avoid going around in circles and to guarantee effective and efficient work, plan your PR work on a quarterly basis, and set goals and deadlines. Start small: Even dedicating just a few hours making plans for the next month’s PR work will impact your productivity.

When you’re creating outreach plans be sure you’re including a diverse group of media outlets: monthly magazines, television, newspaper, websites and blogs. Spreading your message across these different platforms will lead to a wider audience hearing your story, and gives you more opportunities and places to tell it in the first place.

4. Check Out Your Competition

Listen: I know that due to your originality, authenticity and simply “being you”, you have no competition, besides yourself. But let’s be real for a moment, I also know that you have people in your industry who you look up to, admire, whose publicity and business success you crave. Perhaps they even share a target customer demographic with you. Instead of getting frustrated by their success or avoiding their business (including their social media posts) I encourage you to learn from and get inspired instead.

Look at their press:
What media outlets are covering them and what types of stories are being told about them? Use that as inspiration for your own media outreach, as well as a reminder that the world is already interested in your industry and business niche!

5. Closed Mouths Don’t Get Fed. Make a Strategic Pitch Challenge to Yourself in 2017

Building media relationships, doing research, and making PR plans is one thing, but ideas won’t get you far enough, you need to take action. So challenge yourself to do that today.

Here’s what I suggest: Make a goal and commit to create and send out at least one type of pitch — one story angle — a month: For example, if you’re a jewelry designer, one month you could pitch an introduction to your brand to accessories editors, another month you can work on local press outreach, and another month you could share a business pitch or insight with an outlet that covers entrepreneurship and small business.

As I often say to my PR students, “closed mouths do not get fed”! No matter how amazing and innovative a brand you are and how much prep work you do, if you don’t actually send a pitch and take your chance, your story will not be heard! You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to make progress, and this challenge will help you do that.

6. Prepare a Simple & Powerful Pitch Using this Formula

Now that you’ve agreed to my monthly pitch challenge, you’re probably wondering how to create a simple, direct, and professional pitch email to use when you make outreach. Don’t worry, I have you covered. Sure there are several different types of pitches you could create but I’ve seen this simple version work for entrepreneurs for years. It includes the following parts:

Subject Line: Make it clear, concise, and specific or no one will open your email.
Intro with Website: Include a brief introduction (2–3 sentences) that explains who you are and why you’re reaching out. Don’t bury the ask and don’t be afraid to let them know why you’re writing them.
Bullets: Next move on to bullets where you’ll organize all of your most important information. Bullets are easy on the eyes. They stop you from writing paragraphs.
Embed an Image: One option I often include is an embedded image of the product I’m talking about. You know what they say about pictures speaking a thousand words…
A close: Finish with a polite farewell and mention next steps.

7. Get Your Mind in the Game

If the inside isn’t working, the outside isn’t going to work either. And let’s be real, putting yourself out there in the press and talking about yourself can be a scary thing, so you need to feel empowered to do it! Here are a couple of ways you can combat PR mental roadblocks.

Let go of the false belief that to succeed you need to be fearless:

Guess what? Business and buzz building are tough! You will have to put yourself out there (in pitches, in interviews, on social media) even if you aren’t feeling your most confident, Beyonce-level self. Remember that instead of setting yourself up for disappointment and trying to be fearless, you should focus on being courageous. The more courageous you are, the more chances you will take and the more successful you will become!

Remember, the world is waiting for what you have to offer:

We need that thing that YOU have created in order to make our lives better, faster, healthier, easier, more fun, more beautiful, and more. For your business to do that, people have to be able to find you and know that you exist. So help us discover you! Make it possible for your future potential customers who are waiting to find you as we speak by using these seven PR strategies. Begin taking the necessary steps to build your brand and buzz now, and your 2017 self will thank you!

I look forward to hearing about your progress!