How to get press as a small business

A small Corinne Card

It’s hard to get heard, when you’re only small. 

Big businesses can afford to be loud, and they often spend thousands, if not MILLIONS, getting the right kind of attention from the press. But small businesses need press and links just as much, and are sometimes more deserving of attention.

They just need to find ways to be heard.

To correct the balance between big businesses and small ones, we need SMEs to have the confidence, and ability, to shine, in the face of what can seem like overwhelming competition.

Luckily, while smaller organisations don’t have the same budgets, they do have some advantages, which we can use to propel them into the limelight. Where big brands usually win on budgets, they often lose on agility and the willingness to experiment.

  • Startups have a natural passion, which makes them authentic
  • A small, new brand doesn’t have a big audience, and there’s less to lose, which reduces the fear of failure that can slow bigger businesses down
  • For startups, there isn’t a gap between ideas and launch – and ideas don’t get watered down due to risk

But there’s still a big knowledge gap between small companies and their rivals – the PR agencies that work for big companies.

But one principle which can help small businesses compete, comes from psychology. Social psychologist Adam Galinsky points out the importance of perspective taking: looking at the world through the eyes of another person. Galinsky explains that perspective taking expands your range of acceptable behaviour, and increases your power. He says:

“When I take your perspective, and I think about what you really want, you’re more likely to give me what I really want.”

And, when we take someone’s perspective, it allows us to be ambitious and assertive, but still be likeable. All very useful for a small company that needs confidence in the face of big business competition.

And what do other people want, that can lead to you getting great PRESS? Well, journalists want articles which are newsworthy, suitable for their readership, and, in many cases, ready to publish. Consumers often want to see their own work, and personal stories, championed in the press. And everyone wants to be told they’ve done a good job.

If you can use the narrative, expertise and resources available to you through your business, to give others what they really want, you’ll be able to get the press that your company deserves. But how can you give them these things? I’m going to give you some tools which will help you use perspective-taking to give you the confidence and insights to earn press and links, without the need for a big business budget.

FOCUS ON PHOTOS

One thing that journalists really want, and that many marketers forget, is photos. Pictures can determine story selection and dictate the media agenda. And there are a number of ways small businesses can use them to get press. So, get a photoshoot. Your company, itself, has a story, or a number of stories, which will be interesting to the press. But a photoshoot will help you to tell, and to sell, those stories.

Get some photos of your founders, which help to illustrate who they are and what they do. These will be invaluable for getting them press for years to come.

And, get users to provide you with high quality images. We’ve run user generated content campaigns that have gained press and links from countless news publications, radio sites, councils and colleges. One campaign, that got a link from the BBC, involved someone who won a selfie competition, with a selfie taken on top of a mountain.

We found the right person to contact in the BBC – someone who was based in the area of the competition winner. We took their perspective, as someone who wanted articles suited to their readership. We also took the perspective of the competition winner, who submitted his photo because he was, rightly, proud of his own work, and wanted to share it.

Also, if you sell tangible products, get high quality photos of these. And, if they’re things which could conceivably be gifts, make sure you have photos of them taken with a white or transparent background. Because everyone: news, magazines and blogs, loves to publish gift guides. There are hundreds of them.

And, if you can offer a simple image of your product on a white or transparent background, there will be hundreds of opportunities for you to place this in major titles, and relevant blogs, to get amazing inbound links, press and sales.

USE RESPONSE SOURCE

Journalists often need an expert opinion on a particular topic. In many cases, as a small company, you can be the expert, by helping a journalist who’s perspective you’ve learned. And to do this, you can use a service called ‘Response Source.’ It’s a service I would recommend every small business invests in. Journalists use the platform to send out queries about articles they’re writing, which PR people or businesses can respond to, and get press and links in the process.

You can choose relevant categories and take a free trial. With that trial, you can see where journalists are looking for expert opinions, articles and images which you’re able to provide. And you need to become an expert at responding quickly and effectively. Taking the journalist’s perspective and providing them with EXACTLY what they want.

But there’s another important point about perspective taking, and that’s thinking about the moment the journalist has sent out a request. At that moment, they don’t know if they’ll get one reply, or hundreds. So, if you can be first, and reply within the hour, with exactly what they want, you have a much higher chance of getting noticed, and getting press. A couple of days later, when they already have a hundred responses, you might be too late.

But also consider, from their perspective, they need to be able to justify why they’ve chosen YOU to quote as the expert. So give them an interesting, relevant quote, and give them, and their readers, reasons to believe you’re the expert. Mention well-known clients, awards and any other notable achievements, in brief, when you introduce yourself, and in a way that can be published directly ahead of the quote you’ve provided.

PREDICT THE FUTURE

But sometimes, you’ll want to be PROACTIVE in getting press, working out for yourself what journalists will want and when, and providing them with just the right content at just the right time, purely from your own work, imagination and hypothesising about the future.

Many sites will show you upcoming events and awareness days, so you can work out when to target journalists with relevant content, tailored to their publication. But a good way to get ahead of the competition is to have the confidence and wiliness to research and target the things other people might NOT have spotted. To do this, you need to know the press around your industry, and the press around your consumers’ needs and interests, inside out. So; read, read, read.

Have the confidence to get in touch with authorities to strengthen your content, and always take their perspective, as well as the perspective of the public. By taking other people’s perspective at every stage, you can gain TRUST with authorities, and TRUST with the public. And, In the long term, TRUST leads to people engaging with your brand, over others. But journalists will need more than just trust in order to use your content. You need to get everything ready for them in a way that they can use it.

WRITE THE NEWS

This includes writing a press release effectively. The first thing you need is a story. If you want it to be published by news sites, it has to be news.

It needs to have a hook that makes it new. News stories work well if there’s an element of SURPRISE, if it’s something people care about, if there are fresh, verifiable stats and if there’s a news peg – something BIG, that’s already happened, and that your news story relates to.

When you’re writing the release, it should be written just like news. That means, write to the standard ‘inverted pyramid’, eliminate jargon and sales pitches, get straight to the point and write in the third person, so it’s all ready to publish. And it makes sense to aim for an inbound link, both for traffic and for SEO. But, for a journalist to include a link, it’s not enough that you want one in there, because they’ll need something called ‘editorial justification’.

They need to be able to justify the link from the perspective of their typical reader. So, provide something useful on your site that’s not available in the release, or give the reader something to DO there, like enter a competition or register for something they’ll value.

DIGITAL PR IS POSSIBLE FOR SMEs

Ultimately, to do effective digital PR, you need confidence in your product, and you need confidence in your abilities. Make sure you’re passionate about what you’re marketing, take other people’s perspectives, follow these steps and you’ll be able to make any company famous.

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