If you’re start­ing a new busi­ness, you might be think­ing that PR is some­thing that you shouldn’t even think about because you can’t afford an expen­sive PR firm.  How­ev­er, don’t think that way just yet because Mag­gie Pat­ter­son, a Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Strate­gist and Copy­writer with MaggiePatterson.com is here to help us nav­i­gate the PR world and find ways (and great ways) to do it your­self.

What exact­ly is PR?  Is it mar­ket­ing? PR is real­ly a sub­set of mar­ket­ing.  It encom­pass­es every­thing from employ­ee com­mu­ni­ca­tions to media rela­tions.  How­ev­er, peo­ple strict­ly think of pub­lic­i­ty.

Do you need to have a press release and how do you deter­mine that?  Accord­ing to Mag­gie, peo­ple real­ly don’t need to use a press release.  It’s all about telling your sto­ry, and there are so many ways you can tell your sto­ry.  Press releas­es are great for peo­ple who may need to show earn­ings or win­ning a new cus­tomer.  Instead you can do things like guest blog­ging or pitch­ing your sto­ry in oth­er areas.

How can you get it to your audi­ence in anoth­er effec­tive way?  When you think of pub­lic­i­ty, fig­ure out how you’re going to put your­self out there, and what’s the best way you can do that.

Are there gen­er­al rules of where you should con­cen­trate your PR efforts?   Mag­gie rec­om­mends real­ly work­ing to go into guest blog post­ing.  It allows you to do it at your own pace, and it helps dri­ve peo­ple on your list and dri­ve peo­ple to your site.

How do you pitch cer­tain blogs?  The absolute best thing you can do is to do a lot of research.  Google a cer­tain top­ic along with ‘guest posts’, and then see where oth­ers with­in your indus­try are guest post­ing.  What kind of places with­in the busi­ness groups are peo­ple get­ting cov­ered.   Look at where you are in your busi­ness, if you’re small, start with small­er niche sites, and then move up the lad­der as need­ed.

How­ev­er, Mag­gie also rec­om­mends to be care­ful with Google and dupli­cate con­tent with guest post­ing.  If you have a spe­cif­ic top­ic that you like, don’t try to just recy­cle the con­tent.  It’s okay to take the same theme and spin it. 

Is it as sim­ple as just send­ing an email and pro­vid­ing an idea for a post? Find out who they take for guest posts, and what they’re look­ing to put on their site.  Tell them about your guest post idea, and make it super sim­ple for them to say ‘yes’.  Also pro­vide a short bio, along with some writ­ing sam­ples.    As you move up the chain you can include the bet­ter sites you’ve sub­mit­ted.

Oth­er areas to con­cen­trate on for PR? If you’re local­ly based, look at your local media like morn­ing shows, news­pa­pers, etc.  Pro­vide an idea for a seg­ment and sto­ry that you can do for them.  It also starts to put you in that expert space.  You end up get­ting a lot of prac­tice, so when the big media out­lets con­tact you, you’re ready to go with your four-minute pitch, along with your media pres­ence.

Where do you begin try­ing to find a spot on the news?  Look for the assign­ment edi­tor.  Tell them who you are, and give them 3 ideas, all a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, so they can see the vari­ety you can offer, and the dif­fer­ent direc­tions they could go.  You can also send out a note and say you’re a new com­pa­ny, and you’re not sure how they look for guests, but you would like to be con­sid­ered.  It might pay off right away, but they may think you when they’re in a pinch.

HARO is anoth­er great tool where reporters and blog­gers are look­ing for sto­ries.  You do need to respond very quick­ly (with­in a few hours). They lit­er­al­ly get hun­dred of respons­es, so it’s bet­ter to be near the begin­ning.  Also respond direct­ly to what they’re ask­ing for.  Don’t try to be philo­soph­ic.  List out your solu­tion, and why you’re qual­i­fied for it.

Are there any oth­er resources like HARO?  There are a lot of web­sites that have lists of peo­ple to guest post.  Make sure that you take the time that they’re still up to date, and they’re still accept­ing guest posts.  Mag­gie also rec­om­mends going to Alltop.com, where they have a ton of sites that you can pitch.

Anoth­er area Mag­gie encour­ages is speak­ing.  You can do some­thing small at a local busi­ness or orga­ni­za­tion.  If you think it’s some­thing that you can do in a way that will make them shine.   Mag­gie encour­ages you to make your own luck and put your­self out there.  Don’t wait for oth­ers to come to you, pitch your ideas and put your­self out there.  Offer your sto­ry to oth­ers.

What are your thoughts about speak­ing for free vs requir­ing a pay­ment?  Maggie’s advice that if you’re start­ing out, that you shouldn’t charge fees around it, espe­cial­ly if you’re putting your­self out there.  

One thing about pub­lic­i­ty, when you start putting your­self out there, you will have haters (but this real­ly can be a good thing!)

Where can I bring in a PR per­son to help me?  Use some­one like Mag­gie to help form and write the pitch.  As far as con­nec­tion to blog­gers, edi­tors, and show orga­niz­ers, Mag­gie encour­ages her cus­tomers to do that part them­selves.  Don’t cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion where you’re com­plete­ly depen­dent on some­one.  If you’re work­ing with some­one, see their strat­e­gy, and what they’re doing to deter­mine where you can do it your­self.  It’s bet­ter to do some­thing like this instead of a long-term con­tract.  

Mag­gie rec­om­mends that if you real­ly want to start doing your own PR, start watch­ing the big­ger PR firms out there.  You can find what’s trendy, and see what larg­er com­pa­nies are doing to change their PR.  It will give you some great ideas around where you can focus your efforts.

More about Mag­gie:   Mag­gie Pat­ter­son is a copy­writer and com­mu­ni­ca­tions strate­gist. She works hands-on with entre­pre­neurs to help them mar­ket their busi­ness­es and meet busi­ness goals.

With 15 years of hands-on expe­ri­ence she has worked with com­pa­nies of all sizes – from big brands to solo­pre­neurs. After cut­ting her teeth dur­ing the dot-com bub­ble and bust in Canada’s lead­ing PR agency, Mag­gie start­ed her own high­ly suc­cess­ful mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­sul­tan­cy.  She is the host of the Mar­ket­ing Mox­ie pod­cast and her work has been pub­lished on lead­ing web­sites includ­ing The Huff­in­g­ton Post, LKR Social Media, Duct Tape Mar­ket­ing, Con­tent Mar­ket­ing Insti­tute, Yahoo Small Busi­ness and more.

You can find Mag­gie at MaggiePatterson.com