Written By Crosby Noricks of PR Couture
Everyone wants PR – or rather, everyone loves the idea of free publicity. After all, there is no better communications function for an organization as cost effective as public relations, even with a general uptick in the use of paid media as part of PR efforts. However, not all startup companies, organizations or individuals are making enough recurring profit to hire a PR firm. Most boutique lifestyle firms charge a minimum $2500 monthly retainer, which doesn’t include hard costs like samples, shipping or event production. For those in that boat, here are 3 ways to still grow your business without relying on advertising.
1. LEARN HOW TO REACH OUT TO EDITORS AND INFLUENCERS YOURSELF
One of the big reasons to hire a PR agency is their ability to expedite media coverage by leveraging existing relationships, as well as their ability to know what an editor is going to respond to, and how to position outreach appropriately. However, there is something to be said for hearing from the company founder directly, and the nuts and bolts of pitching can be taught, and like any new skill, will improve with practice.
Get started with: These pitch scripts are an affordable way to find out how PR experts structure pitches, which can help with early pitch jitters! Simply copy, paste and personalize with your own information.
Go all in: Get the inside scoop directly from a wildly successful PR agency owner and sign up for Press Success, an amazingly comprehensive online course that you can complete at your own page (ie in between all your other duties) that will give you everything you need to become a media maven.
2. PRIORITIZE BUILDING YOUR EMAIL LIST (EVEN OVER YOUR SOCIAL FOLLOWING)
One of the primary reasons we get so excited about being featured in the media is the hope that it will directly translate into sales. However, PR is not a guaranteed sales driver by any means, and so when you have a limited budget, your biggest revenue driver is going to be your email list. At least set up an incentive for signing up on your website, and follow up with a personalized, value-rich welcome email. Welcome emails are incredibly effective: on average, 320% more revenue is attributed to them on a per email basis than other promotional emails. At best, start segmenting your lists based on purchase behavior, location, birthday etc so that you can deliver highly targeted offers.
Get started with: Offering a time-sensitive discount on new orders with email sign up. Then follow up with a true welcome email that explains your vision for your company, what they can expect from being on your list, and invite in any feedback.
Go all in: Find an email service provider – we use ConvertKit – that will allow you to segment based on individual subscriber behavior, rather than having to create different types of lists. Here’s a quick free training on how to truly build out a sales funnel that can do the heavy lifting of selling products and services for you.
3. GET EDITOR AND INFLUENCER REQUESTS IN YOUR INBOX
Another great benefit of hiring a PR agency is to know they are proactively seeking opportunities on your behalf. But if you happen to have specialized expertise, or have a product-based business, or both! then a really smart thing to do is take advantage of existing businesses that seek to connect journalists looking for source material with the businesses that could be a great resource.
Get started with: HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a free service that will dispatch media inquiries to your inbox up to several times a day in your most relevant category. Set up an automation in your inbox to filter HARO emails to a specific folder, and then set a calendar reminder for you or an assistant on your team to review them at least once a day.
Go all in: For product-based businesses that are open to sending samples and interested in coverage in regional, niche as well as mainstream national magazines, Media Leads is such a no brainer subscription to have. Similar to HARO, this service not only sends editor queries your way but also has media contact information for your own proactive pitching, As a media database is an easy $5k a year investment, the ability to join media leads for less than $100 a month is an easy decision for any CEO.
There is so much information out there these days, and so many experts sharing their knowledge, that hiring a PR firm is no longer the only option to ensure your brand’s name is in the headlines and you’re capturing interest that generates growth for your business. Of course, when you’re ready, nothing beats having true communication experts helping you to steward your brand into the future.
Crosby Noricks is a digital brand strategist and career coach, as well as Founder of PR Couture, the industry-leading platform for fashion and lifestyle communicators. She also serves as a lecturer at California State University San Marcos and San Diego State University. Connect with Crosby @crosbynoricks