I’ll admit, I am not a trained PR person in the PR sense. I began my training as a journalist before switching sides and getting a job with a growing PR company. I was able to be creative, ask a lot of questions and grow within a young company. I had some big wins, made some silly mistakes and got very frustrated on more than one occasion.
Now, after almost three years of working in PR (I am now PR Coordinator for a digital marketing apprenticeship platform), I am looking back at everything I’ve learned since making the switch over to the dark side.
Here are a few things I am passing on to PR beginners who want to work at securing some coverage for their clients or the company they are working with.
Consider Guest Posting
In today’s world, where more content then ever is being written but it’s harder to get someone to write about you, you should definitely consider guest posting. So many others are, so join the party.
If you aren’t familiar with what guest posting is: it is when you write and publish an article on someone else’s blog or website (aka what you’re reading right now).
Guest posting is a way for you to share specific insights you have on certain topics to a new audience who are interested in similar things to what you are writing about. Provide value in your content to get the most exposure and in front of more eyes.
Guest posting can spread brand awareness, increase traffic to your website and can also impact your SEO (if done correctly!). To learn more about guest posting, here’s a great article by Jeff Goins on ‘3 Ways Guest Posting Can Help Grow Your Online Audience’.
Sign up for an Email Finder
When I first started sending pitches and trying to create conversations, I spent a ton of time trying to find email addresses.
If you can, sign up to an email finder like Hunter.io or RocketReach or Interseller. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration by doing this.
If there’s absolutely no budget for purchasing an email finder like the ones I mentioned above, then I will say that you should be able to find most email addresses on social media platforms like Twitter. I’ve become quite good at it.
Check Twitter, search “
Don’t Look Down at ‘Smaller Mentions’
When I worked with a PR company, we would have a ton of clients come onboard who only wanted coverage from top-tier publications. If we couldn’t get top-tier, they weren’t interested.
Well, my first question was: why? What does one article in TechCrunch or Forbes do for you?
Maybe a boost in traffic, maybe a few sales - I get it. But what happens when a month passes and you’re no longer benefiting from the coverage on this top-tier site?
Obviously, coverage from top-tier publications is good, but I just wouldn’t dedicate my entire PR effort toward securing these features. They are not guaranteed and they will probably not give you the boost you think.
Take a good look at the smaller niche websites, like trade publications, in your space and inquire about how you can secure mentions here. You’ll reach a more focused audience and if you are able to secure enough of them, you will build up a nice base layer of mentions and links that will make your company more searchable.
Shoot for the Stars (when you’re ready)
Obviously, the goal is to get press from top-tier writers on top-tier publications. And, even if you are a beginner, you should go for it. But make sure you have done your research and your business is ready for what could come from potentially getting a top-tier mention.
To increase your chances of getting a response from one of these writers and possibly receiving some coverage, you will need to do your research and correlate/connect to a past article or two written by the writer relative to your brand and news. After you’ve found the right person, you’ll want to personalize each email so it doesn’t come across spammy, while keeping it as short as possible at the same time.
If you’ve found a journalist who writes about your competitors often but is not ready for top-tier press, why not reach out early and start creating a relationship? Just be courteous and respectful of their time.
Get Organized and Stay Organized
Organization is very important. Tracking email addresses, publications you’ve reached out to, when to send follow-ups and more should all be tracked in a system that you are comfortable with.
I like everything nice and simple, so I just keep everything inside a Google Spreadsheet. Want to create a Google Spreadsheet of your own to track PR pitching? Create a fresh new document and put these columns at the top:
This is very simple but I have a system worked out that allows me to track, read and navigate through the document easily and effectively. Figure out what you need and set it up!
I briefly mentioned it before but I want to reiterate the importance of sending follow up emails to your pitches. Some of my biggest responses have come after a second follow up email was sent.
Don’t harass them or beg them, just remind them of your first email with a short follow up email 3 or 4 days after your initial pitch. If you want to send a second follow-up a few days after the first, go ahead. Just beware of upsetting someone and getting blacklisted from ever getting them to write about you. A good practice for sending follow-ups can be to provide more information from your previous message. Give them a reason to want to say yes, and NEVER lead with, “just following up…” That can lead to a #PRFail and can diminish your chances of working with a journalist.
The PR world is a confusing and large space. It would take more than a 1,000-word blog article for me to cover it all. But if you want to get started, I’d begin by guest posting, pitching the press and monitoring #journorequests on TwitterHARO requests.
If you spend some time crafting your approach and working toward realistic goals, you should be able to secure some mentions in no time.
Like anything, to get a real feel for what PR is, you’ll have to just get out there and do it!
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