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$pa Marketing: Raise the Bar with Great PR

Once upon a time, getting great PR (public relations) for your business meant one thing—hiring a great PR agency. There was only one problem: they can cost a lot of money. Many require a retainer fee up front plus $200+ an hour.

Don’t get me wrong, PR agencies provide a valuable service, particularly when it comes to nationwide product launching. But chances are, you don’t need a product campaign. You just need to get some local media coverage. But how? Isn’t it nearly impossible to obtain on your own? The answer is no. What you may not know is that most editors are hungry for good content. They want it, and if you know how to give it to them, they can make you a little bit famous—at a fraction of the cost of hiring an agency.

What is Good Content?

Do you think editors want to know more about your chemical peels, facials, eyelash extensions, body wraps, or Botox injections? I can tell you from experience—they don’t. It is not because you’re doing anything wrong; you’re just not doing anything different. In the media world, these services are considered old news. So, what are editors looking for? It’s simple—human-interest stories. That’s the secret sauce. Let’s look at some examples.

• A story on chemical peels to remove age spots might not be considered exciting. Instead, visit local retirement homes once a month to talk about anti-aging and preventing skin cancer. Then do a chemical peel demo on someone’s hands to show how to make those pesky age spots disappear. Now, that’s a story—that’s human interest.

• Instead of a story about Botox, what about a couple who’s been married for thirty years, coming in to your spa to get Botox side-by-side to “grow young together?”  You’re showcasing not only their love for each other, but also the level of their commitment. This easy-to-create angle provides a captivating twist that editors will love.

Getting Started

Think about the products and services that you offer and pick one. Now, recall or create an angle, a twist that focuses on that one thing. Let’s say you had a teenage client with terrible acne that avoided social activities in high school. With the help of your acne-clearing facials, she now has beautiful skin, an active social calendar and enjoys getting attention. Ask her if she’d be willing to be interviewed. Then, start sending out your “pitch” (a few well-written lines about your story idea) to editors of magazines, newspapers, TV or radio stations, and online publications. Finding editors couldn’t be easier because they’re public information, listed on most publications’ websites. Be sure to contact the appropriate editor, though—editors live on time crunches and don’t want to be bogged down with irrelevant pitches.

Now, when I say send out pitches, I mean lots of pitches—even hundreds. You can easily duplicate your pitch and send it to multiple editors. But here’s another thing you may not know—most editors won’t read your pitch. Don’t let that stop you, because it is worth it if only five read it and one comes to your place of business for a live interview on a local TV station. That could easily lead to 20 phone calls and $5K in new business. And all it costs you was a little bit of your time and some typing.

You can also improve your chances for success by pitching a story around your favorite charity. Be sure to choose a charity with personal significance to you, such as a breast cancer charity because your grandmother had breast cancer. Contact the charity to get permission to mention your work with them on your website, social media pages, brochures and any articles. Ask them to send you their logo in a .pdf format, which will lend credibility to you and be easily recognizable to thousands of others.

Free PR through Yelp

Yelp has quickly become one of the most successful review sites in the world. Millions use Yelp to check restaurants, hotels and more before stepping foot into any business they haven’t tried before. You can use Yelp to get free PR, too. Think about a client who’s had an amazing experience with you, so much so that they told several of their friends about you. Ask them for a Yelp review and thank them the next time you see them with some extra pampering. Not only are you spreading the word about your business, but you’re also raising your own bar. Be sure to check to see if any of your clients have “Yelp Elite” status, meaning that they’re active and in good standing in the Yelp community. “Elite” reviews garner higher priority in the Yelp algorithm, meaning that theirs will be at the top of the list.

Raising the bar with great PR requires patience and persistence, but the rewards can be invaluable. Remember, friendliness and professi­onalism go a long way with editors—and when you do land that amazing interview, be sure to send them a thank you note!

Top Tips for Great PR

1. Research. Do a little homework about the media venues to whom you’re pitching. Find out what types of articles they publish and readership demographics. Tweak your pitch accordingly.

2. Title accordingly. Include a catchy and concise subject line on all of your emails, one that pertains directly to your article.

3. Add people. Be sure to mention any and all people available for interview, and include all of your contact information.