Maximize your visibility with a minimal budget
Due to the recession, many business leaders are facing declining sales figures and unprecedented budget cuts. As a result, they’re hesitant to spend their ever-shrinking budgets on visibility efforts. However, it’s more critical than ever for companies to increase their visibility to drive sales in the current economy. While business leaders are worried about the bottom line and are looking for ways to save money, my advice is that organizations can’t afford not to earmark money for public relations, especially during this economic downturn. Media outreach is an extremely effective way for companies to increase their presence in the marketplace, attract new customers, promote their products and services and drive sales. The key is to maximize your limited budget. If you develop partnerships with media experts and work collaboratively using a smart, strategic approach, you’ll get the most bang for your buck. Consider the following tips to maximize the success of their PR efforts: • Media relations is often much more cost-effective than other marketing tactics. Even if your company can’t afford a large-scale marketing campaign this year, you should still utilize public relations to deliver key messages to your primary populations. • Find the right public relations partner, who is knowledgeable about your industry, has significant experience creating pitches and has strong relationships with the media. It may seem counterintuitive to outsource the project when budgets are tight, but the right partner will ultimately save you time and money - and get results. • Have a compelling news hook. Does your company have an innovative approach to help businesses increase efficiencies during this tough economic climate? Are you donating resources to help others who are struggling during the recession? The media is looking for solutions, innovations and other “good news” angles during a very pessimistic news cycle. • Become a valuable resource. Reporters, editors and producers are always looking for experts they can rely on for current - and future - stories, so it’s important to demonstrate your knowledge and unique industry perspective. It’s also critical to convey that you’re responsive, aware of media deadlines and flexible about the inevitability of last-minute interviews. If you possess all of these qualities, you’ll become a “go-to” spokesperson for the media, which will depend on you for multiple projects, increasing your exposure. • Know who you want to target and build a media list based on your desired demographics. It’s more productive - and cost-effective - to approach a specific list of media outlets that will reach your priority populations, rather than reach out to an enormous list of media outlets that have no impact on your key demographics. • Pitch less “traditional” outlets, such as blogs, in addition to reaching out to newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations. Blogs have become tremendously popular, and are often hyper-targeted, allowing you to reach very specific audiences with your key messages. • Consider additional resources that may expedite results. For instance, I’ve been working with an Israeli client, and my business in Israel is expanding. I’ve recently aligned myself with talented local professionals who can support my projects on the ground there. • Recognize that it takes time to achieve results, so the sooner you get started the better. I’ve pitched stories that have received immediate placement, and I’ve also communicated with reporters for months before my client’s story runs. Keep in mind that breaking news can delay your story. Also be aware that some outlets - including magazines - have a long lead time, meaning that they’re working on stories months in advance. Don’t get discouraged. The story placements will likely be well worth the wait. • Don’t lose your passion! It’s difficult to “sell” a story without that passion. I recognize that we’re all feeling a bit pessimistic, given these tough economic times, but channeling positive energy will help immensely in your media outreach efforts. While it may be tempting to postpone visibility efforts to strive to save money, implementing a public relations campaign is worth the investment now for long-term results. It actually will help drive traffic to your business and, ultimately, increase your revenue. As an added benefit, public relations is far more cost-effective than many other marketing tactics, so it’s something that companies can - and should - begin immediately, regardless of today’s economic downturn.
Stefanie Guzikowski owns Portsmouth-based E&G Public Relations LLC. She can be reached at 603-501-0052 or firstname.lastname@example.org.