The Complete Guide to Generating Free Press (PR)
You have the spark, the idea, and the drive. You want to take on the status quo, change the world and leave your legacy. You are an entrepreneur, ready to sleep 4 hours a day, and work 18 hours on the idea.
You sweat, toil, and stress for months on end and finally launch your idea. After months of hard work, you are ready to present your idea to the world as a reality. How does the world respond?
Don’t despair, the complete guide to getting free press is here to save the day.
Why Generating Free Press is Important
A general rule of thumb is the more press you get, the more business you will receive. Press is free exposure to hundreds of thousands of people. One press mention can change the course of your business in a matter of days.
A single press mention is enough to set you up as an expert in your field, generate you thousands of new clients and crash your website servers from the online traffic.
Crashing your servers isn’t great news, but damn is it cool to have your website crash from too much traffic.
… it really sounds like I am a lobbyist for a major PR firm. Trust me I am not!
To Hire a PR Firm or Not?
I am sure there are many reasons to hire an expensive PR firm on retainer for $5,000 or more every month. Personally, I have never found the need since I have become a one-man PR team.
However, not everyone can be “in like Flynn.” For those who need a bit more help, I have 4 resources and…
I won’t charge you a $5,000 retainer, but if you want to, you can buy me a coffee here.
H.A.R.O or Help A Reporter Out
Haro stands for “help a report out” and it is the number 1 tool I use to generate massive exposure. The concept for HARO is extremely simple. Reporters need sources for articles. Coincidentally, sources need exposure. Reporters send out a request on HARO like: “Experts in online marketing needed to talk about new trends for small business.”
Experts in online marketing send in answers. The reporter gets to pick and choose the best answers and will credit the source. This is usually done with the source’s words in quotes, and a link back to their website.
This system is a win-win for reporters and you as an expert. You get free backlinks from major websites and reporters generate awesome content for their readers. Google gets mad at you when you purchase backlinks, but free ones are completely acceptable.
How to Make the Most of HARO
As someone who has been on both sides of the HARO equation, reporter and source. I have mastered the art of answering HARO requests, and I believe I have it down to a science. There are some simple guidelines that will net you a much more positive experience.
- Be the owner, CEO, or whomever the knowledge is coming from. I have seen too many times PR agents say “My client is John Smith of XYZ company and I will be happy to get you in touch.”
As a reporter, I don’t care who you represent. The only caveat is if you represent Tim Cook CEO of Apple and I get to talk to him directly. Reporters are busy people, they don’t want to jump through hoops to get the info they need.
- Answer the question don’t try to pitch yourself. It will happen organically if you can answer the question.
I get it, you want to pitch yourself as an expert. You want to talk about how amazing you are and how perfect you are as a candidate, your qualifications, and what you had for breakfast that day. Again this goes back to the previous section, reporters are busy.
Instead take the time to fully answer the question. This doesn’t mean write a 4-page thesis, or a two-word blurb. Take about 5 minutes to write 1-3 paragraphs fully answering the question giving actionable advice. Your job is to provide a ton of value for the readers. This works extremely well if you can bring in statistics, images, and other forms of proof.
As an expert you are competing against 20-30 other experts, so your advice has to be the top of your game.
- Be the first to respond: If you are not first your last – Ricky Bobby
HARO sends out 3 emails a day Monday thru Friday. Each email has about 20-30 requests from reporters. Subjects range from health and wellness, business, tech, and just general knowledge. Obviously, you will not be able to answer all the requests. Some days there are literally zero that I feel comfortable answering. Other days I end up answering 5-10 requests, and then I do a happy jig.
When there is a HARO request that you feel comfortable answering, jump on it! Don’t wait past 48 hours to answer the HARO requests, the reporter has already found their sources. Time is of the essence!
Free Press Release Distribution Websites
I am not an expert in press releases. I do not run a $5,000 retainer PR firm that sends out hundreds of press releases. Personally from all my experience, it seems to be a dying medium. That being said, there is still value in sending out a press release.
Press releases as part of an SEO strategy can be extremely effective and powerful. One press release sent to thousands of news outlets can generate you hundreds of backlinks. These backlinks from high authority sites can do wonders for your businesses ranking in SERPS (search engine results pages).
A couple of sites I have used for press release syndication are:
Most press release distribution websites have a paid version of their service. These paid versions give you further reach, more links, ability to link videos and much more. The paid version may be worth it, that is up to you to decide.
That being said the free services are great too. If you want to really be cost effective, go to fiverr.com and get a press release written for you. To be super cheap you can submit your press release to a couple of paid services on Fiverr too.
Disclaimer: I have never used either of these services and don’t vouch for them, but it might be worth testing as it would cost under $20. Could be a win!
Double disclaimer: There is a lot of mixed feelings when it comes to press syndication networks and their viability. Press releases won’t directly help SEO, but if picked up by a media outlet it will. Your chances of being picked up may be extremely low.
Mastheads + Guest Posting = WINNING!
Want to get featured on Entreprenuer.com? One of the easiest ways is to write a guest post for them.
Most online blogs like Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and Forbes have a webpage where you can submit guest posts. These are like giant black holes that suck in your hard work and they never see the light of day.
On the other hand, almost every major online news source has a “masthead.” A masthead is a place where you can find a listing of all the people who work at the company and the positions they hold. These are invaluable resources for finding the right editor to with which to submit your guest post.
The average writer or editor gets about 90 pitches directly into their inbox a day. They don’t have time to go through the black hole that is called a guest submission page.
That is why having direct access to an editor to pitch to, is much stronger. But how do you get those coveted email address, especially if you can’t find the masthead?
Imagine being able to find anyone’s email at Huffington Post, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company or any other website. Yep, I got a sneaky 100% free tool for you. It is called email hunter, and it will search any website for the email address for which you’re seeking.
Just like that, you can get the email address of whatever website you need. From there you can use the mastheads to find the right editor and send your blog article directly to them. On top of that, you can connect with all those editors on Linkedin.
Protip: If your business uses LinkedIn for B2B prospecting, this tool becomes amazing for landing those whales of clients. Connect your way to the top!
iTunes + Podcast + Email Templates
iTunes is the place to go to find podcasts in your niche. Podcasts are the modern day equivalent to being on a radio show. Speaking on a major podcast can generate massive exposure. Some of the top podcasts like John Lee Dumas Entrepreneur on Fire, Lewis Howes School of Greatness, or Tim Ferris 4hourworkweek podcast have millions of listeners.
That being said, you don’t need to get on those top sites to generate some really good buzz. Find 100-200 podcasts in your niche and send each of them an email. Create an email template with your pitch and send it out.
Very quickly you can have 10-20 podcasts you are speaking on and generating really good buzz. Once you are done with one podcast, ask the host if they know anyone else who is looking for your expertise. Podcasters know other podcasters and are very willing to share a really good guest.
Generating Press through Public Speaking
Public speaking is networking on steroids. If you got to a traditional networking mixer you might be able to talk to 5-7 people in a given hour. If you are lucky 1 of those people might be a decent fit for your business and niche. The rest will be in real estate, finance, or law.
When you grow the balls and learn how to public speak, what ends up happening is you talk to a room of 30-50 people or more. They have to listen to you, and the listeners who are going to help your business will find you afterwards to talk.
Make sure to “call out” your audience in your presentation. These are the people you’ll typically want to follow up with after the keynote. A simple slide that says “Hey, I am looking to speak to these types of people, come up and talk to me after the presentation.”
If you are deathly afraid of public speaking there are two major things to do. First, join your local Toastmaster’s group. Toastmasters is a group that gathers with the sole purpose of everyone becoming better public speakers. It is a great organization to help you practice because they will make you better while supporting you.
The second thing you can do is bite the bullet and just go practice in front of real people. After about 100 attempts you will start to not suck. After 10,000 it will be as natural as breathing.
Plus every time you give a major talk, local news publications want to know. This is perfect type of content to feed to their ever hungry media engine.
Create Your Own TV News Station
Traditional forms of marketing and advertising are pretty much dead. Ok, maybe not 100% but they got an odor about them that is driving people away. Generating free press and hype is easier than ever, with the power of social media at our disposal.
New forms of social media are absolutely amazing and generating massive discoverability. Facebook Live, Periscope, Live.me, Musically, Snapchat, and Instagram stories all offer unique ways to engage with your audience. They key to each and every one of these mediums is to create great content for the platform, build an audience, and be consistent.
Social media gives us the power of a TV broadcast station like FOX or NPR right in our pocket. Stop being afraid, hit record and start telling the world your story. If the world likes your story you will get discovered.
All in all, this is by no means an exclusive list in generating free press. This just happens to be the ways I know and have utilized.