Perspectives. Five ways to be your own PR firm

PR Jess Ratty, founder of Team Jess shares her top 5 tips for entrepreneurs and small business owners on how to boost your business on your own terms.

Jess Ratty PR

Who knows your business best? Who feels most passionately about it? If the answer to both is you, then maybe you’re the person who should be singing its virtues from the rooftops.

Jess Ratty, the founder of Team Jess – a bold and unconventional PR and Marketing brand shares her secrets to boosting your business on your own terms:

1. Make your business easy to cover.

Make sure you have a press page as part of your website, with bitesize and newsworthy details about you, your company, what you offer, your key products, previous press releases etc. Showcase any previous coverage there too, and include contact details. Journalists are looking for clear information from reliable sources without having to chase.

Jess: “I found that one of the best and most simple things that we’ve been able to do for our clients (and for ourselves) is creating a beautifully designed sheet that has all the stats, figures, links to images, video content, sound bites for their specific business. By doing this you not only save yourself an awful lot of time, but you can get away from the humdrum stuff and on to talking about the more exciting news instead.”

2. Find every way you can to meet influential people.

Go to events, seminars, ask friends for contacts if you’re lucky enough to be well-connected. (It is so much easier to write to journalists with “Susan Somebody suggested I get in touch with you” in the email title.) Focus on developing relationships and being nice rather than just being pushy, so that at the relevant time you can write and remind them of who you are while pitching your story. As the old adage goes, people are more likely buy (ie use a story) from people they like.

Jess: “PR is less about public relations these days, and more about progressive relationships with people in the media. Are you giving them the right stuff? Are you giving them value for their audiences

It’s about making an impression on people, always being pleasant, always being kind, and becoming ingrained in a person’s life in some way, shape or form so that when they think about a certain topic your name should then naturally rise to the top of that pile.

How you put your views across online is super important. I always stay perfectly pleasant online, I don’t challenge or behave badly, purely because these people might be a client of mine in the future. Be yourself and be strong and be memorable online and offline, but also remember that you’re always building relationships with these people, even when you’re not talking directly to them.”

3. Keep a close eye on social media.

It’s not just about following relevant people and hoping some of them follow you back. Watch for any influencers who start to follow you or say something about your brand or industry which chimes with you. If someone important follows you, reach out with a personal direct message. Build a relationship at any opportunity. Regardless of what people may tell you, Twitter is not about quantity of followers; it’s about quality.

Jess: “I completely agree with this. If you don’t have your finger on the pulse you can quickly become irrelevant in the industry that you work in. You’ve got to know what’s going on in the world you live in and social media is a brilliant tool for that. In terms of reaching out on social media, it’s about creating a positive aura around all the content you put out online. You need to be relevant, you need to stay true to your values, and make sure you’re using the right hashtags so that the people you want to engage with have the opportunity to see what it is you’re trying to say.”

4. Just be out there.

PR is a bit like fishing. Get yourself out there, talk passionately about your product or service wherever you are. You never know when you might meet someone related to the very person who can set your brand on the way to stardom.

Jess: “Being open to discussions, and being a ‘yes’ kind of person, allows you to do a lot of things. The reason I’ve got where I am is because I’m a yes person and I don’t shy away from things. Be as brilliant as you can be and be really positive, and great things will happen off the back of that.”

5. Get yourself known in your industry.

Many blogs are delighted to have guest posts. Comment (intelligently) on other people’s pieces. Become a guest speaker at events if you can. Position yourself as an industry expert – the key here is authenticity and integrity, rather than writing pitches in comment form.

Jess: “This one is absolutely vital. When I helped build Crowdfunder, I became the face of the company in many ways because I went and gave talks, I responded to posts about crowdfunding, I did little video soundbites, and I did all the PR. There are so many people out there who think if they’ve answered an email, they’ve done a task, but have you actually answered the question? Becoming known in your industry not only for your expertise, but for your helpfulness and your ability to get things done, is going to get you a long way. “

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