DIYPR – Part One

If I were to take a wild guess, I’m betting most of you don’t have marketing/PR budgets that parallel Starbucks, Google or Apple. If you do, please ignore what I’m about to say and call your big city PR firm to set up your next campaign brainstorm session.

For those of you that don’t, you’re most definitely not alone. But just because you don’t get to play with the same budget as Steve Jobs doesn’t mean you can’t invest some quality time into your own PR efforts. It’s a DIY world nowadays (especially since everyone is operating on a leaner budget), so if you can build your own floating deck in the backyard, there’s no reason you can’t produce some quality PR traction for your business.

There are gobs of free tools out there for the taking, and each one of them can help you step up your efforts and steadily build your “In the News” tab on your website. I’m happy to share whatever I can with you, but will do so in increments – otherwise this entry could become quite long-winded.

I’ll start with one of the most important resources in PR. Let me introduce you to Peter Shankman. Get to know him…now. Peter launched a free service called Help a Reporter Out (HARO for short) a few years ago that has proven so valuable that he now has more than 80,000 subscribers and more than 30,000 journalists. In a nutshell, he deploys a newsletter that pairs journalists (running the gamut from top-tier publications like the New York Times, all the way down the line to your local TV station) with subscribers (usually PR/communications folks and business owners). Reporters, producers, freelance writers, magazine editors and bloggers send Peter queries, in search of a matching source. Here’s an example from today’s feed that came from a well-known technology website:

Query:

Looking for someone to discuss the pros and cons of data portability on the Web and address some of the security issues involved.

Depending on the type of publication, the reporter’s timetable often varies, ranging from “I need this ASAP for a story I’m turning in for tomorrow’s edition” to “I’m looking for someone to be included in next month’s issue.” It goes without saying though, that while it’s fantastic that there are so many queries posted for the taking, there is also a lot of competition to be included, so the quicker you can respond the better.

Before you start pitching reporters about your business, be sure to read up on Peter’s “FIVE Rules of HARO” pitching guidelines. He’s a stickler for policies and staying “on pitch,” but it’s also why he’s been so successful in this endeavor.

Check out this link for some helpful pitching tips. Pay particular attention to tip #8. (That’s another blog entry on its own.) I don’t recommend jumping into the pitching pool until you’ve done a bit of research or you may very well end up here. You don’t want that.

Before closing off this first “ode to PR” entry, one of my favorite things about HARO is that you’re given access to what’s coming down the pike in your industry – straight from the horse’s mouth if you will. Many times, I get an idea for a pitch based on something I see in the HARO e-mail. It really is a gold mine.

Go sign up. Remember…it’s free and oh-so informative. And please let me know in the comments section if you like this series. If you do, I’ll continue to post PR nuggets for the taking. And if there’s something in particular in the area of PR you’d like to know, if I can speak to it I certainly will.

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