What exactly does press mean? For most any business it translates to earning editorial mentions. With the metaphorical sledgehammer coming down on the latest spammed tactic – guest posts, most unskilled SEO agencies have been left scrambling to find the next scaleable process they can exploit.
The good news is that if you have been working towards doing real company stuff, you are probably already acquainted with how your small business can get press and earn valuable leads and links. But if not, don’t worry, I’m going to help give you a leg up from two methods that have worked wonders for Heroic Search and our clients.
So what kind of press am I looking for?
Before we get to the tactics, let’s get on the same page in terms of what kind of press you’re looking for. In short, you’re looking for anyone who will feature you/your business (favorably, of course). Provided your pitches get the job done, most likely this will be local newspapers, independent outlets, and various types of niche bloggers. For us Dallas natives, this could mean reaching out to a large, yet general outlet like The Dallas Morning News. Perhaps you’re in the fashion world, in which case you might reach out to a local blogger like Style of Sam. Likewise, startups may find it more appropriate to get exposure through bloggers who run incubator blogs, or even beta launches specifically for influencers in the app development world (more on digital marketing for startups here).
Regardless of who you pitch, the goal is to get the kind of press that results in benefits like these:
- Additional traffic
- Earning a foothold in your community/industry
- Building valuable relationships
- Additional sales
- Indirect benefits (partnerships, employee morale, etc)
Understand what a journalist wants
You’ll need to figure out what the unique selling point of your story is and be able to describe it in one short sentence. Journalists are bombarded by requests, pitches, and press releases all day every day, meaning that they will only have time to make a decision on whether to cover your story based on your headline and first paragraph. Your first paragraph needs to include the who, what, where, when, and how so the writer can understand what’s going on right away. Make your story engaging and easy to read, and you’ll have grabbed them enough to keep them reading.
Current events should be a go-to. This one is a no-brainer. People love to be in the know, and in turn, reporters want to make sure that they can give their readers up-to-date information. Opening up a new location for your business? Maybe a local journalist will want to cover it.
Newsworthy. If your business is releasing a game-changing app, or perhaps your merging with another company. In both instances, this announcement could potentially affect many people. Thus, would probably be something a news outlet would be interested in covering.
Exposing. This may not be your favorite, but journalists sure love it. Everybody loves an “exposing” story because it offers information that most other people won’t talk about. While you don’t have to ruin your reputation to be included in an article, you can knock down a lot of barriers by being vulnerable and sharing some personal anecdotes. In addition to being a great story, your competitors aren’t able to duplicate these stories either.
Getting coverage efficiently – Twitter
You’re a small business, it’s not like you’re waiting around waiting for things to happen. You’re busy making moves, keeping your sales funnel full, closing deals, reporting to clients, taking care of payroll. You don’t have time to always be searching for press opportunities for your SMB.
Most of us are on Twitter somewhat regularly anyway, so why not use some of that time to help get more press coverage? Aside from keeping an eye on certain Twitter accounts and hashtags, this can be an extremely effective way to get inbound opportunities.
#journorequest – This hashtag is full of journalists looking for sources. Keep an eye on this hashtag to make sure you don’t miss any relevant opportunities.
#prrequest – This hashtag works well for a variety of people – PR pros and sources alike. Firms will often watch this hashtag in an effort to get more exposure for their client, or if they’re needing a source.
#solopr – Mix of stuff, good for #SoloPR chat, and for connecting with freelance PR professionals and similar contacts.
For the most part, these hashtags are very mixed in terms of what people want, and who are requesting information. Regardless, keeping up with them will certainly help you build relationships and get those editorial links and mentions that you’re looking for.
Getting coverage efficiently – HARO
Using HARO effectively can be boiled down into four main actions:
- Qualifying the request
- Being unique
- Keeping it short
- Being fast
Maybe that’s a bit of an oversimplification, but mastering those skills in relation to HARO requests will drastically improve your chances of getting coverage. The request below was responded to using these same four guidelines, and just days later we were notified that our client had been included in an article on Cola-ColaCompany.com
Advanced Digital Marketing Tools
In the case that you plan to scale your link building, the right means will make all the difference. While you can find
Buzzsumo – Use Buzzsumo to help identify influencers and get on their radar. Follower count, reply ratio, and other metrics are all available from the Buzzsumo dashboard.
Followerwonk – Similar to Buzzsumo, Followerwonk uses Twitter bios and additional modifiers to help narrow down your searches. Being able to search by location gives Followewonk a great advantage over Buzzsumo.
Advanced search queries – Don’t discount the possibilities of great searching. Using advanced search operators will help narrow down searches to find things like editorial calendars, as seen below.
Of course, this list isn’t inclusive. Shop around to find the best digital marketing tools, try them out, and choose those that will best serve you. Before you take a plunge and “upgrade,” be sure to thoroughly test any new software you might want to try. In the end, if it’s not broken, you don’t need to fix it.
What are your favorite small business press strategies?