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If you are setting up or running your own business, you need good PR. If you can’t afford to outsource it, you can learn the basics yourself and a new book sets out to teach you how.
Are you thinking of setting up a business or freelancing or do you work in a start-up? If so, the chances are you will need to get the word out about what you are doing. If you haven’t got any experience in marketing or PR it can be daunting thinking about how to let people know about your service or product, but the good news is that you can learn how to do it.
A new book by PR director Natalie Trice provides a step-by-step guide for PR novices.
PR School: Your Time to Shine aims to get people to understand what is involved in promoting their business without falling into common errors, such as talking ‘off the record’ to journalists.
Trice starts by outlining why PR is important. She says: “PR isn’t a one-off press release, it’s a long-term vision and strategy that can have a big impact on your business.”
That can include boosting sales, building goodwill, attracting investors, managing a crisis, gaining credibility, recruiting staff, influencing government policy or getting people to attend a particular event.
Planning is vital, she says, which means knowing the messages you want to put across, who your audience is, where they can be found [for instance, the main media they read, watch or listen to] and being consistent.
Trice says lack of confidence is one of the biggest barriers to business success and lack of confidence manifests itself, in PR terms, in keeping a low profile and staying invisible. Trice says that rather than fear of failure holding people back it can be fear of success.
The important thing is to take the first step, whether that is writing a blog post, doing a Facebook Live or writing an email to your local press.
Nowadays, she says, PR is much more than just getting into the media. The internet means there are so many more ways to promote yourself, many of which allow you to have greater control over shaping what gets out there. And what gets out there can be picked up by the media as well as others.
The important thing is to create engaging, interesting stories about what you do and who you are and to be yourself, not some fake persona. Business is driven by people and stories matter, says Trice.
Content, such as blogs or podcasts, needs to be engaging and good quality to stand out – and it needs to be unique to you and your business. It’s vital to research social media, to consider what works best on the different platforms and to engage. You can’t target them all effectively so focus on two or three. The same goes for mainstream media – target the main ones that your audience engages with.
The book is full of tips about how to get on journalists’ radars, how to understand search engine optimisation, how to join into awareness-raising days on Twitter to widen your reach, how to create your own media database of journalists and influencers who would be interested in your business, how to create a media pack, how to anticipate difficult questions and how to write a press release.
Trice also has advice on how to pitch ideas to the media and when to say no as well as how to be ready at all times if the media calls.
There is even a list of potential questions to ask a PR professional if you grow to the point that you want to outsource your press work and there is a list of resources at the end of the book, such as media databases, useful books to read and blogging platforms.
Trice writes: “Your PR journey might be a steep learning curve, and there might be times when you think you can’t do it, but stick with it because this could be the missing part in your puzzle. ‘Look at me’ isn’t something many of us are comfortable with, but if you don’t shout about who you are and what you do, someone else will, which means they’ll own the pages on magazines that could be yours…
“Being seen in the media on a consistent basis can help to raise the profile of your business, increase traffic to your website, boost your sales and client list, and could position you as an expert in your field. The combination of all of these factors will not only create a thriving business, but it can also boost your confidence so that you shine brighter than ever.”
*PR School: Your Time to Shine by Natalie Trice is published by SilverWood, price £12.99.