Small Business Services

Public Relations on a Shoestring

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, we humans now have attention spans that are shorter than those of goldfish. We’ve gone from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8.25 seconds in 2015. Goldfish can concentrate on a task without getting distracted for nine seconds.

The amount of information that the internet throws our way clearly has a lot to do with it. Perhaps it has everything to do with it.

That statistic is bad news for any business trying to get its products or services written about by a publication or website or even a prominent blog. That’s always been a challenge, but it’s even more of a hurdle these days.

There is one bright spot: There are a lot more places where your offerings can be mentioned by independent reviewers or journalists or bloggers. You can use those same tools that have wreaked havoc on our attention spans – social media, email, and other content venues – as you work to promote your company.

Good Writing a Must

Keeping in mind that you only have a few seconds to catch someone’s attention, it’s absolutely critical that your writing is clear, error-free, and to-the-point-quickly. Social media provides forums for quick bursts of information, but you still need to have informational/promotional content ready when someone wants to hear more. So:

Do have content prepared in the form of a brief press release in advance of an announcement. Prepare a few write-ups of varying lengths, as well as short sentences suitable for posting on social networks.

Do craft your “openings” carefully, your subject lines and titles and first paragraphs. How does your product or service benefit consumers or businesses? Who is your target market? What is new about what you’ve produced, and what does it offer that competitors don’t? What problems does it solve, and how does it, for example, improve productivity/entertain/save time and money?

Do identify the writers who cover your beat, and contact them directly with news. This includes web-based publications, ut also prominent bloggers and other individuals who might be willing to mention you.

Do scour social media for influential people in your market and start participating in their message streams, answering questions and commenting. Public relations is a long-term process. It’s not just about getting publicity for a new product. It’s also about establishing yourself as an expert entity in your field. Then when you do have news, it’s more likely to get picked up.

Do consider subscribing to an email marketing service like Constant Contact or MailChimp. They’re not prohibitively expensive, and they can provide valuable insight into who’s opening your emails, clicking on links, etc.

Don’t solicit reviews from customers in mass emails. It looks tacky – and desperate.

Don’t try to woo writers with gifts, or by trying to befriend them too quickly. You want to develop relationships with the writers and influencers in your circle, but these individuals get pitches constantly. Proceed slowly.

Don’t write your own content if you can’t write it well. Hire someone. Granted, this is another expense, but you don’t need thousands of words written. Craigslist is actually a good source, and there are other sites devoted to matching writers with businesses, including Freelancer.com and Upwork.com.

Getting your company’s messages out doesn’t require a substantial budget. It requires daily attention. Research and persistence. Smart engagement with writers. The willingness to position yourself and/or your company online as an expert source willing to share information and help people solve problems. If you focus your efforts in these areas rather than throwing a lot of money at your public relations, what you create and sell is likely to get more notice — and more publicity.

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