How I used PR for my small business FOR FREE with links and an example
Updated: Sep 30, 2022
Have you ever tried to get your products featured in the press? I really wanted to. My QuMoo Design business had reached the stage where I had enough products and I wanted to scale up. I started by reading up on PR, what it meant, what I ought to do, I joined facebook groups and followed accounts on Instagram (Louise Cox is great).
To start with, what is PR? PR is the managing of my reputation through others and credibility and positioning of myself in the marketplace. It's also FREE!
What do I want to achieve by using PR?
- Visibility of my brand
- Timely and achievable goals of appearing in the press
I want to get MENTIONED, get PUBLISHED, get FEATURED!
What are the PR possibilities?
- Low Hanging Fruit: Guest blogging
Smaller podcasts local/regional press
- Mid weight media: weekly magazines
- High level media outlets: national and international publications
What do I need to do? I need to:
Choose a product
Identify the magazine
Find the journalist
Write a pitch email
1. Choosing a product
You can choose your best seller but I think the best thing is to choose something appropriate to what the journalist needs. The journalist needs a "product hook or a link", this explains what they ares:
- A hook is an idea that can be put into a story
- A link to something e.g. a national day such as International Women's Day
2. What do I need to appear in the press?
I need images of high quality and suitable for print (high resolution). Over a megabyte:
3. How do I find contact details of journalists on magazines?
I had an old twitter account that I never used, I re-activated it and started searching the hashtag #journorequest - this is the hashtag journalists ask for information and instruct how they wanted to be contacted (e.g. direct email address or through twitter). When replying to a journalist just give only what they are looking for, e.g. offering myself up as part of the feature, explaining why I'm relevant and who I am, it's a great way to get in contact with journalists especially when they are looking for something I'm selling. Also its a good way to get onto a journalist's radar by favouriting and re-tweeting their tweets etc. They like that! Every week, once a week have a look and see what they're up to.
4. What do I do once I've found them?
Do I have any press worthy products that is simple for them to feature e.g. can I make something more "Christmas-y" so it looks great on their page?
Can I talk about me? I embody my business so examples are meet the maker, expert pieces, basically just put myself out there
Also, timing is everything - understand how magazines work. e.g. magazines work on a 3/4 month in advance (except for Christmas), weekly 4/8 weeks in advance.
5. What is a cut out?
In simple terms, a cut-out shot is photo of a product on a pure white background, where the original background has been removed so the product is ready to be placed on a white page – for example in a magazine. A cut out is:
- saved as a jpg
- the whole product with no props
- sharp and well lit
- placed on a white or transparent background
- high res at 300 dpi
- minimum size of 10cm x 10cm
- over 1MB (NOTE: images over 5MB may fail to upload)
Places where can obtain cut outs:
6. Media Kit
What I've also learned is that I need to make it easy for the press to find the information they require that enables me to get into their publications. I've created an easily accessible online press/media kit on the footer of my website, it can be called "press", "newsroom" or "media" - I called it media kit. I've been told the footer is where it usually is and the press know where to look, interestingly I've had a few hits on my website (noted via analytics). Here are a few "must haves" on the media kit:
- My story and mission (why I'm doing it)
- Company facts - how many customers
- how long in business
- how many units sold
- business located
- product manufactured
- Branding - high res logo with transparent background
- Quotes about my business
7. Press Loft
There's also a really interesting website called Press Loft. I've been told that many journalists use this as a way of identifying products for their articles, it can basically break down an item by subject type, colours, price etc. so it's great for a listicle/gift list or similar. Press Loft starts from about £20 per month to have items on there, to be honest I didn't really want to spend that sort of money yet (surprise, surprise!). As mentioned previously, I have a shop on Folksy and Folksy DO have a Press Loft account. If I manage to have one of my products added as a "Folksy Favourite" then they will also add that image to their Press Loft Account. So far, I've only three products they've logged onto their Press Loft account but I'm super pleased with that.
My PR journey
An example of my PR journey is my green Wimbledon Village print which was featured on the front cover of a very high quality Wimbledon magazine, during Wimbledon fortnight (very, very pleased about this). I connected with the company (Time and Leisure) over Twitter and they asked if I would be interested - a big yes please! This is the magazine as it appeared:
The magazine also offered a small "artist spotlight" slot which I was very happy to accept too:
How much did this cost me? Nothing! How many sales did I make from it? Not very many to be honest but does this matter? No, I don't think it does matter as it wasn't my goal (although I wouldn't say no to it of course!). PR, for me, is all about lending credibility and weight to my QuMoo Design brand, by being able to say it has been featured in X place and here's an article about me. The experience was great, the people at Time and Leisure were really clear about what they wanted/needed and were easy to work with. One thing I need to add, though, is that I ensured I had the right (in writing) to feature the magazine and articles in my website and social media as all images they produce are their intellectual property (and not mine). They were very gracious and said yes I may share.
Hope this helps, if I've missed anything just let me know and I will add the information.