Welcome back to my beginner’s guide to PR series! If you’re just joining, I’m doing a 3-part blog post series all on how small businesses can begin to use PR for their business.
Here’s what I’ll be covering throughout the series:
- Why PR is Important & How To Start Using It
- How To Authentically Connect With Media & Influencers (this post!)
- How To Be Featured On Popular Websites + Podcasts
Today, you’ll learn how to make authentic connections with media and influencers and how to build these relationships over time.
You know how important and business-changing getting media hits can be, but how do you get started?
How can you grow and cultivate an actual relationship with the media and get your stories featured?
How can you get media features when you’re just starting your business?
We’ll be covering all of this and more in today’s post!
Be sure to download the free workbook to help you along the way by clicking the button below.
Define your goals
Yup, we’re talking about goals again. Making authentic connections with the media and influencers is important, but you first have to have a game plan and a purpose.
Getting featured on Pat Flynn’s podcast is cool and awesome, but if you don’t have a goal you’re trying to achieve by being on his podcast you won’t see much return.
This is a big misconception about PR because often people think if they are featured on a major site like Entrepreneur.com or popular podcast like The School of Greatness that their business will finally “take off.”
The fact of the matter is, it takes a lot of work to get on these major sites and more times than not you don’t see a long-term increase in revenue just because you were featured once.
Unless…you have a plan.
People consume so much content these days, and if you don’t have a specific plan for what to do after you get these media mentions, you will be forgotten in about 3 seconds. That’s an exact scientific answer, by the way. 😂
Laying out your goals ahead of time will help you achieve greater success than if you go about it with zero plan.
Here are questions to consider when deciding on your goals:
- What are you looking to promote? If your answer is “uh…I don’t know” don’t bother reaching out yet. When you’re initially pitching the media and influencers, you won’t off the bat say “THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO PROMOTE” because that’s sales-y and gross. We don’t want sales-y and gross. We’re going for authenticity, remember? However, you do want a strategic purpose in the back of your mind for connecting with a particular media or influencer.
- Where will you be targeting? To properly answer this, you’ll need to do some research into where your target audience spends time. If you’re reading this post you’re likely a small business which means you only have a limited amount of time. While it’d be great to target #allthemediaoutlets you don’t have time for that. Identify the outlets that make the most sense for your brand and stick with those.
- What is your strategy? Your strategy can be broken down into a million more questions, but let’s talk generalities to start: How often will you reach out? When will you start reaching out? Who is in charge of reaching out?
- What is the overall goal for getting featured in the media/connecting with influencers? Your goal can be a number of things, but let’s pick out one main goal:
- Is it to increase traffic to your site?
- Sell more books?
- Get more clients? Be specific as possible with your answer.
- What does success look like to you? Let me break some bad news to you: You will not get featured on everything you reach out to. You definitely won’t get a response from everyone you reach out to. You will be disappointed by the number of people that don’t even read your email, let alone reply back. The key is you need to define success for your PR strategies in your own way on your own terms. Some people define success as just having the guts to reach out period. Others identify a specific number of yeses they want and keep reaching out until they get it. Whatever you define as success, write it down and lock it in your memory. This will help keep you motivated through all the times you don’t hear back.
Identify people you already know
There are people already in your life that have connections to places you want to be featured. Yes, you. Stop shaking your head like you don’t, because you do. You just don’t know it yet.
Here’s the thing, to create authentic connections with the media and influencers, you need to build a relationship with them. Relationships take time so a great place to start is with people you already have a relationship with.
You know the theory of 6 degrees of separation (or maybe better known as 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon 😜)? Yeah, that’s like, a real thing.
Here’s how to start identifying people you already know:
- Write out a list of 10-20 of your closest friends and family:
- Scroll through your friends on Facebook:
- Look at who you follow on other social platforms: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook groups
- Think of past co-workers, high school/college connections,
- Write down a list of blogs you read / podcasts you listen to:
Schedule calls with these people, hop on Skype, let them know of your goals.
I grew my business entirely through making authentic connections with people I followed online or met in person. My family and IRL friends still have no clue what I do and I imagine they think I do this every day:
Don’t give me the excuse that you no one in your circle knows what you do and they don’t understand and it’s pointless to reach out.
Questions to ask yourself while identifying people you may know:
- Who is your target audience? Think demographics like location, age, gender, likes/dislikes.
- Where does your target audience spend time online? We slightly covered this earlier, but let’s dive deeper. Not only should you define what social networks they use, you should also be figuring out how they use them and where else they spend time. Do they use Facebook groups? What entertainment sites do they read? What influencers do they follow? This might not be the same as who you follow, so keep that in mind.
- Who are your competitors and where are they featured? This step will quickly start giving you ideas of where to start pitching first. Googling phrases such as “competitor’s name podcast interviews,” “competitor’s name interview” will give you a good start. Also, going to your competitor’s site and looking at their press page will give you a great idea.
- What makes your brand different from your competitors? This is where you really need to do some pondering. Obviously you have similarities to your competitors, but there has to be something that makes your brand stand out from all the rest. What is your unique pitch? How is your story different from all the rest?
My biggest suggestion is to remember you’re connecting with other human beings. Treat people like people, not robots or people on pedestals.Learn how to authentically connect w/media & influencers to start getting press for your #smallbiz! Click To Tweet
Research, research, research
Do you want to how much time I spend researching for my PR clients? Do you really want to know? Okay fine, I’ll break it down for you:
30% of the time I am sending emails. Lots and lots of carefully written & targeted emails.
The offer 70% of the time? Research.
PR is ALL about research.
Okay, so it’s not all about research. It’s also about the pitch. But making authentic connections all starts with research.
Here’s just a handful of things I’m constantly researching for my PR clients:
- Magazine editorial calendars (more on that below)
- Relevant podcasts to pitch
- Journalist contact information
- Magazine editor contact information
- Influencers relevant to the stories/brands/products I’m pitching
Here are a few tips on making research a little easier for you:
- Journalists primarily use Twitter (see, Twitter isn’t dead yet!), so I typically look their first for more information. Hunter.IO is also a great tool to use if you’re trying to find an exact email address.
- Instagram is also a place where people list out their email address
- Not sure who writes for what publications? Search on a publication’s website and you’ll see the bylines of who wrote what article.
- Not sure who is the correct editors for a magazine? Google “magazine name masthead” and you’ll at least find the name of the editors.
Find out what’s on editorial calendars
Did you know that you can find out what magazines will be writing about well in advance? Yup, it’s true. Most print magazines publish their editorial calendars online for anyone to view.
Some will require you to sign up for it, others are just open online.
Print magazines are looking for content about 2-4 months prior to the release date, so you need to plan ahead.
Here’s what happens when I Google “Cosmopolitan Editorial Calendar”:
Often a magazine’s editorial calendar is included on their media kit page, so let’s click on media kit.
It then leads you to a page that has this header. We want to click on calendar.
Bam! The entire year of Cosmo’s print editorial calendar right there.
Now not every magazine publishes their editorial calendars, but most do. Sometimes you have to do a little digging, but you can most likely find it.
You can also sign up for a paid service like Media Bistro to get extra tips on how to pitch certain magazines. Right now it’s only a one-time fee!
Perfecting the pitch
Now it’s time for one of the most important steps: perfecting the pitch. Having the correct contact information for editors is great, but if your pitch stinks it won’t matter.
People get intimidated when they hear the word “pitch” because it gives the impression you only have one chance. While that’s partially true (you obviously don’t want to say something rude that insults an editor), crafting your pitch takes time. This is why we want to start with smaller publications and websites before working up to the big guys.
Here are some tips on perfecting your pitch:
- Make sure it’s relevant to their audience: For example, you wouldn’t pitch an exercise related product to a recipe-only blog, right? Right. This is why research is so important so you know you can accurately pitch the right people and publications. Mention something specific about their site/publication so they know the pitch is specific to them.
- Make sure it’s timely: If you’re pitching to print magazines, it’s all about timing. This is why you are going to look at their editorial calendars so you can know well in advance when to pitch a certain story.
- Share why you’re unique: Websites, magazines, and popular bloggers get pitches all.the.time so you want to make sure you share from the get go why you and your story are unique.
- Be concise, yet descriptive: Only give them the most important information they need to know. Don’t drone on for paragraphs of how awesome you and your product is. We want to be descriptive, but brief.
- Use an email template: Every pitch you send should be unique to the person you’re pitching, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use a template to get started. Check back for a how-to on writing a winning pitch email template!
- Don’t forget to include important links: Website, product pages, social, media kit, etc.
Related post: Beginner’s Guide To PR For Small Businesses: Why It’s Important & How To Start
The fortune is in the follow-up
You have to follow up. No seriously, you have to follow up.
People don’t like following up because they feel rejected from not getting an initial response. I know this because I used to feel this way.
Now that I have over 7 PR clients that’s not the case.
The fact of the matter is, people are busy and their inboxes are full to the brim. Sometimes emails fall through the cracks. Emails get accidentally deleted or lost. People thought they responded but didn’t. And sometimes people are intentionally ignoring you.
All of those reasons I just listed? Only 1 is because they didn’t like your pitch.
Here are general ground rules you should follow when following up:
- Depending on how you send the message (either via email or a contact form) should determine if you follow up. If you filled out a contact form, you shouldn’t follow-up If you sent an email, you should probably only follow up once. I suggest waiting 10-14 days to follow up in order to give some time for them to respond.
- Keep track of who you’ve sent pitches to: You don’t want to pitch the same person multiple times in a row. I have a spreadsheet for each client I have that lists the media that I’ve reached out to, who was contacted, on what date, and if there was a response.
Here is an example of an appropriate follow-up message:
Hope you’re having a great week! I wanted to follow up on an email I sent a couple of weeks ago. I know you’re a busy gal/guy and that sometimes emails can fall through the cracks! Anyways, just wanted to touch base and see if you were open to my proposed partnership/feature story/whatever you’re pitching.
Thanks so much for your time!
Here is an example of an inappropriate follow-up message:
I sent you an email last week and I still haven’t heard back. What gives?”
I seriously hope no one would ever send an email like this, but I no joke got something very similar. Uh, chill out dude.
Final Thoughts on Making Authentic Connections
Once again we covered a lot in this post but I couldn’t leave anything out! Building solid relationships with media and influencers can take some time, but it is well worth the initial investment.
Don’t forget to grab the workbook that accompanies this post. I’d love to hear of any additional questions you may have, leave them below!