Congratulations on building a business you’re proud of. Now it’s time to attract even more customers. In a webinar moderated by our COO Gabrielle Raymond McGee, PR expert Jamillah Rahmaad discussed how to get your business noticed by online outlets and how to make yourself your most compelling product.
It’s all about relationships.
The piece of advice you rely for, say, finding the right accountant applies to getting the word out about your products or services. You want to foster connections with journalists or influencers that cover what you offer. They get tons of messages about products that are irrelevant to their audience, so the easiest way to stand out is to send them a (short!) message that applies to their work. “The goal of your pitch is to be brief, to be educational and to be to the point because if you’ve done your research, then you know that the person who you’re pitching is really a good fit in that what you’re asking for makes sense for them,” explains Rahmaad. She recommends reaching out with an introduction and asking if you can send them information, which shows that you understand how busy they are and that you’re interested in establishing a relationship instead of sending out dozens of press kits. If you get the green light, send a single-paragraph message or even better, a short video about your business.
To find the journalists and influencers you want to build relationships with, Rahmaad suggests searching Twitter and engaging with them there, before you send your first email. “Start talking about their articles and then weave in your pitch.”
Understand your audience (it’s not who you think it is).
“If you’re looking to connect with media outlets or influencers, those are not your audience,” Rahmaad cautions. “Your audience is the people who view that media outlet.” Showing in your pitch that you understand the journalist’s or influencer’s audience in turn shows that you understand why they should care about your business. It’s another part of making things as easy as possible for the recipient to see how your business fits into their coverage or editorial calendar.
Choose your media outlet strategically.
While many of us have dreamed about being in the pages of Vogue, that may not be the best place for your business (at least not yet). “Your local and regional press is going to be gold for you,” explains Rahmaad. You won’t compete for coverage in the same way you might in a publication with a national audience, and your customers will appreciate this added human touch. “Start thinking, ‘How does my business impact this small area of the world?’” Rahmaad advises. “Those types of press rewards are amazing for your business because people know that you’re actually a real human that connects with people locally.”
Though Rahmaad has built her career as a digital PR expert, she encourages business owners to pitch print magazines. With print publications, however, it’s important to find their editorial calendar so you know the deadlines for pitching particular themed issues. Most major print publications include a link to their calendars on their website. You may find that a particular magazine will wrap up their holiday issue in September, so you’ll want to have your gift giving messaging prepared and sent before then. Digital publications usually have a much shorter lead time, so you’ll have to plan accordingly.
Pitch yourself, too.
“Don’t just be a business owner; be an expert,” Rahmaad urges. “Actually let people know that you know your stuff, that they can rely on you.” You can first demonstrate your expertise on your own website and social media channels and then help that expertise find a wider audience through your relationships with journalists, editors and influencers. That means touching base with them and pitching when you don’t have a new product or event coming up. Reach out to see how you might help them. “You have to make people feel like they’re valued and you’re not just connecting with them because you want something to happen in your favor,” Rahmaad advises.
She also recommends signing up for Help a Reporter, a service for matching media professionals with sources and experts, as another way to both position yourself as an expert and build media relationships.