When you're running your own company, especially when you're just starting out, chances are you're spinning a lot of plates at once - attracting new business, serving your clients, creating your product or service, handling finances and admin galore.
With so much to manage, it's easy for branding to fall to the wayside. But your brand is what people say about you or your company when you're not in the room and sharing your brand story is essential to connect with your customers and build loyalty.
A sure-fire way to build your personal or company brand narrative is through public relations, or PR. And you don't need to have a big budget for a posh publicist to manage your brand - you can do it yourself.
As part of AllBright's Bright Skills Series, publicist, PR mentor and teacher of the popular Hack Your Own PR programme Odette Barry, explained how to build outreach with journalists, earn press coverage for your venture and control your brand narrative.
Here are the highlights from our masterclass on how to secure your own PR.
What is PR?
"PR is really about winning the hearts and minds of the people that matter to you. Whether that's your clients, a future employer or for a speaking gig, PR is the lever for building your brand and your reputation by gaining exposure on platforms that are outside of your owned media," said Odette.
What's the difference between PR and advertising?
"PR is all about earning the coverage as opposed to paying for the coverage. In PR, we earn it with the amazing things we're doing, the fabulous story that we have, or by putting the great resources in front of journalists," explained Odette. "In advertising, the exchange is financial as opposed to being about our knowledge, expertise or how fantastic and shiny our product is. So advertising is more limited in how we build trust and reputation."
What are the ways to engage the media?
"You can create an event, run an intimate workshop, you might have a fashion show. You might be interested in running a stunt or activation and doing something really out of the ordinary to attract attention. Or, you might have a really serious issue that you're hosting with a media conference," suggested Odette. "My three favourite ways to do PR particularly for those who are in the early stages of building your reputation are thought leadership, personalised gifting and news hijacking," she said.
"Thought leadership is awesome because this is where we can write contributor content about issues and topics that we really specialise in. This is less about 'This is the amazing thing I'm doing', it's more about 'This is the amazing stuff I know.' By association of sharing that amazing expertise, you draw people closer to you and have that beautiful effect of PR," said Odette.
"News hijacking is where something timely happens in the news that you can comment on. So if you've got a great relationship with a journalist, you can shoot them an email and say: 'Hey Jenny, just saw that this volcano has erupted in Tahiti and I happen to be a volcano expert and I'd love to jump in with some of my thoughts.' "If you've got relevant knowledge and expertise on a topic that is trending right now, then news hijacking is really great opportunity to score some easy media wins," Odette said.
"Personalised gifting is great for product-based businesses who want to get their product in the hands of the right people. Rather than sending out 100 gifts to anyone you can get the contact details of, instead choose just three or four people who are the perfect fit for your brand. Build a connection with them so that it's a personalised gift for just the right person. And you'll have a much better likelihood of having a story run."
How to get people talking about you (in seven steps)
1. Understand your audience media consumption
2. Thoroughly research your specific mediums
3. Research and develop your hook
4. Undertake a brand audit and collate your media kit
5. Refine and rehearse key messages and prepare for your mediums
6. Build your journalist relationships
7. Craft your tailored pitches and prepare mailouts
If you need a bit more detailed guidance or if you'd like to refresh your PR skills, watch How To Secure Your Own PR, an instalment of the Bright Skills Series on AllBright Digital.