You create your own content and you have solid expertise in a particular area – but how many people actually know about it? PR coverage or what I like to call ‘Featured content’ is one of the 3 types of content that is an essential part of your personal brand content plan. This type of content includes being interviewed and quoted in other publications that positions you as an expert in your field.
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Of course, public relations is a full-time job and many people hire a PR person to proactively pitch publications for coverage opportunities. But, what if you’re not at the stage to hire someone to pitch on your behalf? No problem, becoming your own PR person is very much possible!
Here are 5 tips to successfully become your own PR person:
Know your pitch
Without a pitch, you’ll be unable to successfully promote yourself and your value. You need to be able to confidently explain who you are, what you do and why you’re credible. Pitching yourself can be nerve-wracking as you worry about coming off as too “cocky”. I like to think of personal pitching as humble bragging. I know, I know – bragging is not exactly a word that people love but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. (The book Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing Ithelped me become more comfortable with bragging!)
You need to brag about your value and expertise but in a humble way – which means, you’re not saying something like “Hi, I’m an awesome business owner. I get compliments all the time and no one is better than me because I’ve been featured here and here. I’m great, I’m beautiful and you need to know me.” As true as that might be, that’s not the way to go about things and I can guarantee you won’t get a positive response. Instead, introduce yourself in the context of your motivation – in other words, what’s your why? Yes, your pitch is about you but it’s also about why you do what you do and how it makes an impact. For example, here’s how I typically pitch myself for PR opportunities:
Hi, I’m Chanele McFarlane, Founder of Do Well Dress Well, and I specialize* in content and event experiences that equip millennial women with the knowledge and inspiration to succeed in style. [If I have a little more room, I’ll also say:] Through my website, I cover everything from personal branding, networking, entrepreneurship, career advice and personal style.
*I tweak this when I’m speaking to people in person to instead highlight that I’m passionate about the work that I do, instead of simply specializing in it.
I highly recommend reading the book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action if you want some inspiration in uncovering exactly why you do what you do.
Have your bio and headshot ready
As the saying goes, stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. It is more than likely that as you get featured, you will be asked to send over a short bio and headshot that they can use. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity by keeping them waiting as you scramble to put together a bio and get someone to take your photo. Before you start proactively putting yourself out there, ensure that you have these two important things prepared and update them regularly so that they’re both the most current reflection of you. Need help prepping for your photoshoot? Read these tips on How to Prepare for Your Personal Brand Photoshoot.
Subscribe to HARO
HARO, also known as Help A Reporter Out, is a platform for reporters to find sources for their stories. So, how does it work and how it can help you? Well, it’s a free tool that both PR agencies, publications, blogs and businesses can use to put out a request – often they are looking for expert sources to include in an article they are working on. You can subscribe to receive daily emails with these requests (don’t worry, you can indicate the topics you’re interested in – and yes, it’s free!) so you can read through them and see if there’s anything that you can serve as an expert source on.
Here’s an example of what the requests look like:
Sometimes the name of the publication is listed and sometimes it is anonymous. As you see something you’d like to respond to, you simply send an email to the email address provided with your expert response. I’ve personally written a few successful emails that have landed in me gaining PR coverage (full disclosure – I have a strong PR background so writing and pitching are my strengths) so my main piece of advice would be to ensure you’re as short and succinct as possible. No one has the time to sit and read a long-winded email. You should include:
- A short 2 sentence introduction – your full name, title and your blog/business name and what you do
- Response to their question/inquiry (it should be well-written, straight to the point and if possible, include a unique point of view that would increase your chances of being featured)
Read it over 3 times to ensure you don’t have any spelling or grammatical errors and then… you wait! You won’t always hear back (imagine how many emails they get!) but if they do, that typically means that you will be included in their piece. Most often, they will send you an email to let you know that it’s live and a link to the piece. Be sure to thank them and share it all across your social networks!
Follow the right people
Yes, HARO is an excellent tool to gain PR but in addition to this, you can gain opportunities from simply following the right people. Who are the key players in your industry? Who writes about the industry you’re an expert in? These are the people that you need to be following everywhere – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram and any other platform where they’re present. Follow them closely and pay attention to their posts. You never know when they’ll post about looking for an expert to speak to a piece they’re working on. Trust me, this happens WAY more often than you think and is a great way to land a press opportunity.
Monitor your online mentions
Not all publicity is good publicity. Always keep an eye on any mentions of your name and/or business name to ensure that it is a positive reflection of you. An easy (and free!) way to do this? Monitor your name through Google Alerts to be sent daily reports of any online coverage of your name, business name or any other search terms you’re concerned with.
Any other ways you’ve used to gain PR for yourself? Leave a comment below!