It’s an interesting phenomenon. When the proverbial hits the fan, businesses’ marketing purse strings snap shut tighter than a hatch on a submarine to keep water out.
The run for the hills mentality, slashing marketing and promotional budgets that are meant to boost the cashflow coffers, has the opposite effect. What does a business need to stay afloat? Customers. How do you get customers? You market and promote your business.
The best time to promote a business is during tough times. Brand retreat makes it tougher to rebuild and reclaim the audience you originally worked so hard to connect with.
Most brands work hard to forge their position in the marketplace, investing in all things marketing and PR, so when the going gets tough, it is time to look for different ways to get customers and clients in the door.
Poking around the internet, there are some innovative, clever, and low costs ways a business can claw back brand awareness using public relations.
Handle Your Own PR
Founded by PR guru Jules Brooke, this platform makes DIY PR easy and simple. Not only does Jules teach the intrepid businessperson how to find stories and pitch them to the media, she’s created a PR engine packed with media contacts. Streamlining the process, you can use the platform to build a media contact list, write media releases and send them directly from the platform, linking to your email. The piece de resistance of this handy tool is the ability to easily follow up the release – the power is in the follow up.
“When the GFC hit, I saw how hard it was for a small business to afford a PR agency. I wanted to create something that taught people how to do it themselves, so they could learn the process, and do it whenever they want or need to,” Jules said.
“So many people have fantastic, innovative businesses that the media would love to feature. I knew it wasn’t hard to teach people, it’s just a process they could learn and get media coverage that would make a huge difference to their business.”
Finding great media ops these days is harder than ever with the decimation of the Australian media industry. Pitching media releases is a whole lot more competitive with fewer journalists to connect with. That is why SourceBottle, created by Bec Derrington 10 years ago, is an easy to use tool to connect with journalists who are looking for story talent.
Every day, SourceBottle has dozens of media opportunities listed across multiple industries and categories. The key is to act quickly to take advantage of a callout. Categories or topics can be searched to find a media op or there’s a low-cost monthly fee if you want to respond to alerts.
“I still get an incredible kick out of learning that a SourceBottle subscriber has landed some fantastic media coverage – even nearly ten years on,” Bec said. “PR is one of the most essential things a business needs to engage in. And continually. Not just sort of one-off bursts but regularly engaging in PR activities and initiatives.”
The Weekly Rocket
PR is not just about media opportunities, to effectively grow a brand, it is important not to put all your eggs in one basket. A rock-solid brand understands their audience is on multiple platforms, (not just the ones the owner likes). Tapping into speaking opportunities at conferences, summits, and podcasts programs, entering awards, and guest blogging and article writing should all be part of a robust profile building strategy.
Having multiple touch points, across multiple platforms, you can repurpose and reuse goes a long way to building know, like and trust. That’s where The Audacious Agency’s free Weekly Rocket comes in. Packed every week with 10 to 15 brand building ops, subscribers can quickly scan the weekly summary as they start their day.
“Most people don’t have the time to scroll through hundreds of subscription listings, and many listings contain old sites or podcasts that are no longer active. The Weekly Rocket is good for professional service providers who want to stand out and be found – it’s just 6-10 ideal opportunities of current blogs, podcasts, awards, media callouts and speaking events looking for experts,” Lauren Clemett, The Audacious Agency director, said.
Created by journalist and PR Agency, Polkadot Communications founder, Dionne Taylor, Story Match is the Tinder for the media industry. The self-service app and desktop software connect brands with the media in a real time private chat.
“Story Match was developed out of a need to connect both sides of the media; brand and journalists in an online platform that gave permission to the journalist to curate what information they want to receive.” Dionne said.
“The platform allows brands or agencies to upload pitches and eliminate the need for press releases. It allows journalists to choose what pitches they see based on their industry preferences.”
There’s a free option and a couple of paid options for those who really want to get results. The app is functioning in Australia and the USA where members get free access with The PR Loop membership.
With over 15 years of PR experience, Haylie Marchant’s PR Toolkit is full of knowledge and an in-depth understanding of how a business can effectively promote their business. It offers easy-to-use toolkits, how-to guides and a suite of free templates.
While she felt inspired to use her experience to help SMEs for some time, it was Covid-19 that gave her the real motivation to establish the DIY platform.
“It’s no secret that the past few months have been difficult for many people, and that is especially true for SMEs who have really felt the impact of Covid-19. The vast majority (97%) of Australian businesses are small and they account for 33% of Australia’s GDP – which is why it’s so worrying that 63% of small businesses have been negatively impacted by Covid-19, with 91% concerned about the viability of their business in the next four to six months,” Haylie said.
A savvy swivel on the traditional media release by using video to deliver the story angle. Former TV newsreader and journalist Jo Stone’s Release Me platform creates a 2-minute news style story with professional voice over, that can be pitched to the media and uploaded to the brand’s channels.
“The big, glamourous promotional videos have their place but, in many instances, don’t work for modern audiences who want quick, informative content. We create videos that can sit alongside the work of journalists and support newsrooms to deliver great stories,” Jo said.
Hack Your Own PR
Having worked on both sides of the media and now, agency side, Odette Barry from Odette & Co has seen how big budgets can go to waste with terrible PR outreach. “As a journalist, I’ve been on the receiving end of some of the worst pitches you can imagine, where clients have invested heavily and trusted their brand in the hands of publicists who have no idea what they’re doing,” said Odette. This frustration led her to develop a media training program teaching small business owners how to save thousands of dollars and learn how to pitch their story to media outlets.
According to Odette good PR is like dating the media. Her nine week Hack Your Own PR live training program does that and the results speak for themselves with graduates regularly securing headlines with the Good Weekend, ABC and Peppermint magazine, plus helps create a PR strategy and calm the nerves that often accompany approaching journalists with meditations.
“The biggest challenge for small business owners, after the funds to invest in PR, is confidence. Small business owners are doing incredible things: they’re innovators, leading a new path, shaking things up, creating and inspiring – all key ingredients for a killer media story, but too often (particularly female led businesses) they don’t have the confidence to put themselves out there,” Odette said.