Create a PR Campaign For Your Business With Zero Budget

Posted on /by Natalie Sisson/ in Entrepreneurs / 4 comments

This is a guest post by Sotiria Krikelis, Foundress of Relax Missy, trendy foldable ballet flats for modern women on the go.  At 27 years old, she launched her own business and is excited to be living out her vision.

I always thought I’d be great at public relations.  I love to talk, love to network, and I’m not shy at all.  However, I learned there is a science to PR, especially when it’s done online.  Meeting someone in person and networking to try and get a write up is completely different than pitching a reporter by email.

When I was 24 years old I started my own company called One Life, Live-It Inc, and debuted with our first product, Relax Missy, a sophisticated foldable ballet flat for all the multi tasking ladies out there.

Spreading the word and making connections was very exciting for me, but a lot more difficult than I anticipated.  Now at 27 years old with the recent launch of Relax Missy, our goals are to be available for sale in a major department store and featured in key magazines. So how have I gone about doing this?

Start with internet press

I started out with blogs, both small and big, and online magazines that catered to our target market.  The internet has exploded with bloggers and they are an excellent avenue to generate press. Firstly, they have their own engaged audience to showcase your product or service to. Secondly, well known writers and journalists now look to blogs to see what’s newsworthy.

Step 1. Create a list of all blogs and internet magazines that relate to your business category, for me it was fashion, and write down their contact emails and phone numbers.

Natalie’s top tip: Use the following tools to see the most popular blogs for your target audience Technorati, AllTop, BlogRank, Wikio, Top Blogs and BlogCatalog

Most of the time, I’ve found bloggers to be very receptive in email pitching.  However, just remember you are not the only person pitching them with your idea. They get hundreds of emails from PR companies to individuals and sometimes they need extra time to catch up. I say give it a week and then follow up with another message.

Step 2: If you haven’t received an email reply, then shout them out on twitter and they’ll almost always respond back. Many bloggers are active on Twitter and use it as a marketing platform to spread the word. Plus Twitter is quicker and easier.

These are two tactics I use daily and find them to be very effective.

Creating an email pitch to a Blogger

There is a proper way to email and an improper way to email.  I recently posted an ad for interns on a website and was shocked at the poorly executed messages I was receiving.  It dawned on me that these people have no clue they’re taking the wrong approach.  The right approach always seemed logical to me, so I’m going to give a few tips here:

Tip #1
Never, ever, ever write a mass email to anyone.  I don’t care if it’s a magazine, and employer, or a blogger.  Mass emails are a no go and will get deleted immediately.  They give the impression that you don’t really care who you’re writing to.

Tip #2

Always address whomever you are pitching by their name if it’s listed.  You never write “To whom it may concern.”  This just shows that you haven’t taken two minutes to click around their website, go to their about us section, and read what they’re about.  Cater your pitch to the specific news outlet or internet publication you want to be featured on.  This is very important.

Tip #3

Don’t ever send a blank email with just a press release attached.  I don’t know why people do this.  It’s not effective.

Tip #4

Think about why you are newsworthy and why they should write about your product or you.  Never think the product will sell itself.   You need to convince them and draft a kind and newsworthy email.  But keep it short!

Tip #5
Don’t send a follow up email with the words, “Why have you not responded?”  This will definitely not get you a response from that particular publication.

Tip #6
Wait a week to send a short follow up email and what I like to do is paste the original message in that follow up because I know my previous message has gotten lost in their inbox.  If their phone number is listed, then call the writer/blogger/editor and make your conversation short and kind.

Tip #7

Create a compelling subject line – I never knew this was so important, but it is.  This is what most media personnel use to decide whether or not to open up your email.  If it sounds like a mass email then it will be deleted.

Twitter and Facebook are huge marketing tools for your business.

Twitter is where I found most of the bloggers on my list.  Just click around between tweets and see who shouts out to who, then click on a twitter user’s web address and see what they’re about.  This is really simple and whenever I follow someone or respond to someone’s tweet, I always click on their website.

The most popular social networking site by user numbers is Facebook, which allows you to create a page for your business and invite people to join. Also you can `like’ related pages and leave comments linking to your business. You can also search groups you are interested in and message those that you would like to network with.

Here’s an example of a Twitter pitch that I instigated (my Twitter handle is @Solopreneete)

@DawnDelRusso Just sent you an email with a fab product! Perfect for all high heel lovers – looking forward to hearing from you!

@Soloprenette thanks just got it..they look super cute 🙂

@DawnDelRusso Great! Just got your email on my BB – love how we are up late tweeting! Will reply 2mrw, off to bed now, early day. Gnite!

@Soloprenette lol I know I get lots done at night 🙂

@DawnDelRusso Email me your address and size so I can send you a pair for your viewers!!

Generating daily newspaper press

This is actually less scary than one might think.  You can find all email formats on the actual newspaper or by going to their website and looking it up.

You can first start with an email pitch and then wait two or three days and follow up with a phone call.  Since these are daily newspapers and they are known as what’s called “short lead time,” you have a better chance of getting press.

The newspaper general phone number should be listed on the website and then you call and ask for the appropriate editor and briefly follow up with them to see if they are interested in your story.

You should know the editor’s name by doing your research prior to pitching to make sure you got the correct person.  If they say no, take a month off and then pitch again with a different angle.

Here’s a specific example. There are two types of newsstand fashion magazines: Weekly Celebrity and Monthly Fashion Magazines. The weekly celebrity magazines are just that, celebrity.

Basically, if your product is not tied into a celebrity story, then you will most likely not be featured in these magazines (Life & Style, In Touch, US, etc).  I once emailed an editor who responded saying she loved my product and asked what celebrity was wearing it.  At the time, I didn’t have one so I responded saying that.  Naturally her response was that I needed to have a celebrity fixture with my product.

Monthly Fashion magazines I found even more difficult to get into.  Of course if you know someone or have a hook up then that’s great, but most of us don’t.  In order to get contact information from all these editors; I spent two days calling every magazine I could think of and asking the gatekeeper for the company’s email format.

Everyone has a different format so be sure to ask.  These magazine editors are busier than most and get bombarded with tons of emails which they often read on the way to work on their mobile device.

There are thousands of PR companies pitching to land their clients a story, so you are not the only one.  Don’t get frustrated if you don’t receive a response, just keep pitching and it will happen.

Don’t keep sending the editor the same pitch, change it up, make it shorter, give them your updates, or tie your product in with a column you’ve seen in their magazine and say why it would make a great fit.  It’s all about persistence and exhausting all options.

I use all these approaches daily.  Emailing bloggers, stylists, magazines, sending samples, taking an active role on twitter, are all steps I take to network.

Public Relations is a hustle and generating press is a full time job, that’s why there are PR firms that do this full time, but as a new company, you don’t really have that luxury of hiring an expensive firm, so you must do it yourself.

Natalie’s Top Tip: Sign for HARO – Help a Reporter Out, and check in on daily opportunities to respond to that relate to your business.

About Sotiria: With many future goals in mind, Sotiria has taken the first steps most people only dream about and doesn’t plan on ever stopping.  The entrepreneurial world is something she has embraced and loves every minute of it.  A few fun facts about Sotiria are: unlike most people, she hates coffee and prefers high intensity boot camp exercise over yoga.

  • As a 17-year PR professional who’s now advising entrepreneurs how to do their own PR, these tips are spot on. Way to go, Sotiria. You are going to be getting a ton of PR. If I may add just one other important element, make sure you read the news each day to see if there is a big story you or your product can tie into. The media love to talk about big stories already in the news and if you can offer them a timely angle (even as a small company) they will absolutely be calling you.

    John Sternal

    • Natalie

      Hi John. Honoured to have you visit my site and reveal your insights. Definitely the news is a fantastic source for creating your own angle on the top headlines to really make a great story.

      Another top tip!

  • Great, valuable information and tips! I’ve been a PR pro for more than 20 years. I recently launched JW PR Toolkits, the best resource for small businesses to develop and implement do-it-yourself PR campaigns on a shoe-string budget. These kits were written and reviewed by top journalists and bloggers. Visit and enter promo code MEDIA for a great discount!

    • Natalie

      Thanks Jennifer. Always happy to support those who support entrepreneurs.

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