Every Freelance consultant and business owner has an eye open for good publicity opportunities. Articles written about one’s business are far more effective than paid advertisements, because they are considered objective opinions. Other than word of mouth by satisfied clients who sing your praises, there is nothing better than good PR to help build the buzz that makes you look credible and successful and worthy of still more business. So what are the best ways to get good publicity?
If you have the kind of business that can potentially attract more than sporadic media attention, then building relationships with editors and writers whose publications and stories focus on your category of business is a good use of your time. Once you’ve identified good media prospects by reading their articles, send a press release that details an event that would interest. In your email, reference an article or two of theirs that you’ve read. Follow up with a telephone call. Offer to take that person to lunch or coffee. Even if your press release doesn’t get you any editorial space, you may be called to provide comments as an expert when other stories are written. Check in periodically, to maintain the relationship. Meeting for coffee every once in a while can pay off.
Bloggers have lots of influence and it is sometimes a challenge to reach them. Blog Dash is a site I recently found that helps you connect with bloggers whom you can hire to spread the good word about your business. Fifteen categories of business are represented, from arts to travel, and numerous bloggers within each category can be reached. There is a free option, which will give you no real access to bloggers (but they will see your business and may comment), or you can pay up to $50.00/month and be able to pitch bloggers directly and build relationships. http://blogdash.com
Write a good press release (see my post Press Release Primer, 3.1.11) to encourage traditional journalists and bloggers to give your story some editorial space. They are considered old school in some quarters, but a press release is still the way to get the word out to journalists and bloggers, whether or not they know you. But you have to provide good content and 95% of the time what a Freelancer or other business person has to say is not considered relevant. Hint: when one advertises, one generally receives editorial space.
Solicitations to provide expert opinion or commentary showcase you to look like the go-to in your field. Help a Reporter Out HARO http://helpareporter.com and Seek or Shout http://sos.cision.com allow you to respond to requests for quotes on any subject, from big data to the medical device industry. Three or four years ago I signed up with HARO but I quickly shut this free service off. I was nearly buried in emails and I couldn’t take it.
It is obvious that the adage “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” was created before the dawn of social media. Social media can cause a minor PR hiccup, or negative customer review made by a spiteful customer (or maybe a competitor), to blow up out of proportion and do you some damage. Resist the temptation to hand over your social media functions to some 22 year old. In theory, social media updates ought to be a great responsibility for a young person who lives this stuff anyway, understands how to get the word out and works cheap. The problem is, that young person may not have the wherewithal to give the right answer when something challenging is written.
Creating good buzz about your business is part of the Freelance consultant or business owner’s job. How to get that done in the most effective manner requires a strategic approach, like all of your other business activities. If sporadic PR is what your business attracts, it is best to engage in a variety of activities to ensure that you appear viable and relevant to clients and colleagues. You may not get written up, but you will build a good reputation. If your business is the type that would attract more press, then spend the time and money to advertise in the relevant publications and build relationships with journalists who cover your kind of business. Subscribe to have the ability to reach out to bloggers and see what that does for you. Budget for a year and then evaluate. Learn to write a good press release (see my post FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 3.19.13).
Thanks for reading,