Using PR to drive sales

By Octavia Goredema, Founder, Twenty Ten Club

Prior to embarking on my first start up and founding the Twenty Ten Club I worked in marketing and public relations in the UK and the US for a decade. I often receive questions from business owners about marketing and I’m always happy to give advice on how to utilise marketing communication techniques.

A few weeks ago Joy Phido, beauty industry entrepreneur and CEO of World of Braiding, asked if I’d give a talk at the Women’s Business Opportunity Network seminar she was planning.

The event took place on Wednesday and I was honoured to have been invited to be a part of it. I decided to discuss how PR can drive sales for your business. As part of the talk I compiled a list of 10 tips for running your own PR campaign for small business owners.

I thought the tips might be useful for others too –

10 tips for running a PR campaign (on a budget!)
Whether you’re the owner of an established thriving business or a start up with limited funds, public relations is an essential and effective marketing tool that can drive sales for your business.

You can run your own PR campaign successfully even if you can’t afford to hire a freelance PR or a PR agency. Here are some pointers:

1. Be clear on your objectives
Any PR campaign objectives need to align with your business objectives to ensure you deliver return on investment. Make sure whatever strategy you undertake has your end goal front of mind.

2. Determine your target audience
Get really specific about this. Think about your primary audience – the people who will make the biggest difference to your business – and focus on this group solely to begin with.

3. What do you want to convey and when?
Identify the times of the year that are important for your business and start to plan PR opportunities around those timeframes.

Remember every single milestone or announcement is an opportunity to drive broader awareness. Think about what you want to convey and then think about how to make that information engaging for your target audience.

4. Create target media, event and influencer lists
Public relations is usually associated with securing coverage in newspapers and magazines or on TV and radio. However, it can also encompass social media (Twitter, blogs, forums); events (participation, sampling, sponsorship) and influencer engagement (seeding your product or service with the important people in your industry whose opinions or behaviour influences others).

Think about the approach that works best for you, based on the audience you need to engage, and make lists of the media, events or influencers you need to target.

5. Prepare a media kit
To start with, make sure you have a company backgrounder prepared in a format that can be emailed easily. You should also prepare a short biography of the company spokesperson – you!

Don’t forget about images! Make sure you have high resolution versions of your company logo, your headshot, your products and/or any branded imagery related to your business in jpeg format.

6. Don’t be afraid to talk about your business
Perfect your “elevator pitch”- your 30 second descriptor of who you are, what you do and why that’s scintillating.

If you want to secure media coverage and you’ve identified the news you want to convey, don’t be afraid to call your target journalists to introduce yourself and pitch your news.

7. Be prepared to chase down media opportunities
Journalists have to handle lots news at once while meeting deadlines so if you haven’t heard back on an opportunity don’t be afraid to follow up.

Remember different media outlets have varying lead times for planning their content. For example, monthly magazines have the longest lead times with an average deadline of 2-3 months prior to publication date for inclusion.

8. Use the internet to your advantage
Keep up to speed with your competitors’ media coverage by setting up Google Alerts that sends their breaking news straight to your inbox.

Google Alerts is free and easy to set up – www.google.com/alerts. You can also use the alerts to monitor how your industry is being discussed in the media.

9. Don’t forget branding
Ask the journalist to include a “call to action” in your interview / news story – your company website and/or phone number. Where possible provide branded imagery to accompany any print or online media coverage.

10. When you receive positive PR exposure, tell everyone!
When your company receives attention, amplify it! Make sure to spread the word – email your customers, scan the coverage and add it to your website, tweet about it, tell your Facebook friends. Use the opportunity to continue to drive word of mouth and even more positive associations for your business.

If you have any other tips, or questions, on running a PR campaign please do leave a comment.

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