It’s an ongoing struggle when working on a PR campaign for your business to identify the right tools to use that are low-cost or free. Nowadays, public relations is the go-to growth and lead-generating method for business, and rightfully so. Whether you are doing your PR in-house, working with a freelance publicist or retaining a PR firm, the resources below are key to saving you time and money. There are a ton of resources out there. Some PR services are free and will not move your campaign forward a single inch, while others can cost more annually than a small wedding. So where does that leave your PR? How do you get your news into the news and to the right people without spending an arm and a leg? The good news is that with these low-cost tools, you can.
HARO Is Not Spam!
A few years ago a wonderful entrepreneur by the name of Peter Shankman started a free mailing list, a daily email list that would go out to publicists across the country. What was in this magical list? Media leads—that is, writers, editors and show producers who were looking for sources to use in their stories and segments. To this day Help A Reporter Out still exists and is still free. Though now bought and run by the PR giant Vocus, you can log on to http://www.helpareporter.com/. Register as a source, and begin receiving three emails a day— morning, noon and night—from reporters who need sources for stories.
For instance, CNN might be looking for lawyers to quote on a current case, or a writer from InStyle magazine might be looking for the best fall fashion accessories. You simply reply to the queries, pitch your business, and voila! If the writer of the news source chooses your story, you have just landed a media placement for your business.
HARO covers all types of media leads from technology to health, lifestyle, home and design, fashion, authors and more. Any seasoned publicist or PR firm should be using HARO. If you are outsourcing your PR, this should be in addition to other in-house resources. If you are doing your PR yourself, it is an amazing place to begin and gain some placement traction.
Cision Ed Cals Is a Tiny Pot of PR Planning and Pitching Gold
When working in PR we rely heavily on editorial calendars. Few people realize that many magazines plan for their editorial content well in advance. For instance, in the fall they plan to cover fall looks, and for December they plan to cover holiday gift guides. However, if you pitch holiday gift guides in December, you are surely going to miss the boat because larger magazines normally have a three-month lead time. Let’s count that out. This means that your holiday gift-guide pitch would need to be in by the October 13 deadline.
Here’s a little advice from the publicist files: use Cision Ed Cals. You can put in keywords such as fashion accessories, home and garden, authors or apps, and a list will come up of all the magazines that will soon be covering the topic at hand, together with a submission deadline date and contact phone number or email. Did I mention that it’s free? You can find it at http://us.cision.com/edcals/edcals.asp.
Easy Media List Truly Cuts Costs
At my PR firm, the job of interns breaking into the industry is to scour the news daily and create endless Excel sheets full of writers for various news sources on diverse topics. This is how we teach them to really research a pitch. However, this is their future career, and unless you are an intern learning the ABCs and building blocks of PR, no one really has time for all that. Nor do you want to spend half a year’s mortgage on a media database…if you are not a PR firm. So what can you use?
Easy Media List, found at http://www.easymedialist.com/, offers city and state media lists for various industries that contain name, phone number, email addresses and even a postal address if you need it. But I remind you, this is not for spamming media contacts, but to make your life easier. Their lists are also broken down by industry such as fashion, technology, book review lists and more. They are low-cost and can range from $50 to $150 per list, dependent upon how large and indepth the list is. (Shh! Don’t tell those interns that are still learning the ropes. They still need to learn the basics.)
Google Alerts Won’t Steer You Wrong
I like when I wake up and Google has emailed me an alert for my name. It means that I appeared in the news somewhere. I also have an alert set up for every competitor. Why? Because if an editor is covering a competitor, then they should also be covering my business. And by deductive reasoning, that’s the beat they write for, isn’t it? If you have no Google Alerts set up for your competitors, then you need to do so immediately.
While you are at it, set up alerts for the keywords that you want potential clients to use when they search for you. Set the alerts to email you once a day in one large message, and then review it. Pitch your story to any writers who are writing for that topic. It will result in a media placement. Mine always do.
eReleases Is Hands Down The Best Newswire Service
Once you have a press release written you want everybody to see it. You want it to hit Yahoo News, Reuters and scores of other news sites so that writers and editors can see the story and create their own articles from it. You want the public to see your news feed through newswires. However, newswires can be very expensive. There are some low-cost wires that don’t exceed $50 to $80, but, as I tell people, they won’t put any air under the wings of your press release. Then there are the trusted big name wires such as BusinessWire and PRNewswire that can run anywhere from $460 to $800 for each release.
A few months ago I stumbled upon a gem called eReleases, found at http://www.ereleases.com. I was skeptical at first, but I decided to try their $299 service. It was exactly the same service as PRNewswire, which we’d spent a small fortune on the year before. We then tried their lowest package, which was $199, and again we got amazing online distribution of the press release. I can’t say enough about this service! And for the icing on the cake, they sent us a personalized welcome picture and a book on PR (which of course we gave to the interns).
PR campaigns do not need to be expensive, but they do need to generate real results. Put these tools to use and drop me a line on how they are working.