7 ways to get great PR

The question you will ask is: How does one get PR — and what does it cost?

The good news is that PR doesn’t have to cost much.  You don’t need to hire high-priced agencies that specialize in racking up big bills and spamming journalists.  But it does require corporate executives — preferably the CEO — to take a proactive approach and to be open and available.

Here are my tips.

  1. Read dozens of business publications.  Understand what topics are newsworthy and which journalist writes about what topic.  You will find that journalists are always under tight deadlines, have specific “beats” that they cover, and are looking to inform their readers of the latest trends and explain their meaning.  Write to them and offer your insights.  You will find that most journalists do write back to you.
  2. Focus on the needs of the journalist and not yours.  No one is interested in your product.  If a journalist asks you a question, answer that, and don’t obsess with getting your product covered.  Build a relationship over time, and it will likely pay off with your getting the coverage that you are looking for.
  3. If you do have something to announce, put it in the context of a “news hook”.  Make your message timely and relevant to what is happening in the industry or the world.
  4. Don’t ignore small or regional publications.  You may want to be in The Wall Street Journal, but it is not likely to cover you until you have built great credibility.  Your best starting point is small, industry-oriented or regional publications.  They are a lot easier to approach and will likely be interested in breaking your story.
  5. Be available—even when you are busy.  Journalists on tight deadlines need sources to quote as fast as they can get them.  The first to respond usually get featured.
  6. Be honest.  You will find that journalists have excellent “bullshit detectors”.  If you mislead them even once, not only will they never write about you in a positive way; they’re likely to tell their associates about their experience.  I confide in journalists all the time.  I have not had even one journalist report on something that I said was off the record or was on background.
  7. Be yourself, and express strong opinions.  If you’re going to hedge your bets or be diplomatic, your message will drown in caveats.

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