Public relations and marketing are definitely sisters in the truest sense of the word now. In the past marketing was focused on getting sales through paid means like bus benches, buying ads in magazines and billboards. Public relations, on the other hand, was about getting unpaid endorsements from media sources like magazines and television.
If you are having an event it is definitely worth your time to figure out a public relations spin for it.
Whether your event is online or offline, a big giant conference or a teeny weeny meetup, getting butts in seats is your only goal. You can have the best content in the world, but if no one shows up it all for naught.
1. Realize that the new “publishers” are regular joes and janes
Publishers have changed. Before it was easy to find places where you would try to “get press”. It was the local newspaper, maybe the area Business Journal and one or two content specific magazines. That model is totally fractured and never coming back. While it is good to submit a press release to your local paper (even if it is a national or online event), you will have to get way more creative to get the new breed of publisher to notice.
- Ask to guest post on sites that have great traffic already
- Offer a bribe (like free tickets) to an industry influencer if they will share your event with their network
- Contact podcast hosts and see if you can be on their show
- Pay for advertising or an email blast from their site
No longer are companies in charge of publishing and media. While there are instances where you will be dealing with a corporation, more and more often you will be talking to a person who has built up their own brand and audience.
2. Be respectful
Asking an editor at Conde Nast to publish a story about you or your event was not personal. They had a magazine and you had a need, pretty straight-forward. But today you really are approaching a person or small business much of the time.
I can tell you from experience that there is a right way to ask for things and a wrong way. Here is one message I got “asking” to post on my site:
I am keen to feature an article on your website as it would do wonders for my portfolio as a writer and also give me an ideal platform to share my thoughts and ideas with a large number of readers. (blah, blah, blah article titles he will write about)…Lastly, I am willing to part with $30 for your efforts in publishing my article, as I think it would be a sound investment I hope your reply is in the positive, so your readers can benefit from what I have to say. Warm Regards
Holy buckets Batman, that was beyond the pale, but understand that people who have grown big website or social media profiles get messages like this all the time.
While you do not have to offer to pay for their endorsement, please remember to be nice when you ask!
3. Give them something to share
If you are asking for a promotion on social media or in an email, please give them graphics and content that they can share easily. I get requests for a share all the time that are an official press release (no one is interested in press releases), a word document or power point presentation.
A “sharable” piece of written content is a prewritten email, tweet or social post that is not too salesy or self serving. Rarely will anyone copy and paste a sales message so you need to make sure it is fun and creative.
A “sharable” piece of visual content is a banner or picture that is formatted for the different social sites. I make two sizes, tall and wide. One is 1200X600 dpi and the other one is 600X1200 dpi. While those are not perfect for every social media site, they work well enough to be okay on all of them!
You have to remember that oftentimes getting a share is a split second decision. You send the influencer an email and ask for their help and they have a couple of minutes to post it for you. You need to make that process stupid simple for them to do!
No one is going to create a banner to share for you, you need to provide them with something that they can easily pop into a post. Additionally, please do not make them read the whole pitch to figure out what to say for you. Send pre-written content that people can just copy and paste!
4. Start making friends way before you launch!
One of the things that true public relation pros fostered was relationships. They knew the editors of magazines, rubbed elbows with big wigs and generally were people oriented people. While you might not need to do all that, there are things you can do make connections with the people who are influential in what you are trying to do.
- Join their mailing list and email back with a relevant comment or compliment
- Share their content on your social media and mention them
- Participate in their book launches
- Comment on their blog posts
- Buy their books or courses
- Leave reviews on Amazon, Udemy or other sales sites
Then when you are ready to launch, reach out to the ones that you “know” now and ask them to share your Event!
5. Make you event an EVENT!
If you are having an event that requires big time marketing and public relations, make it a big time deal! Oftentimes I will get a message about promoting an event and then go to their page or website and I can't even find it there.
That makes me think that it is not all that important and that I should not spend my “social capital” on something that the organizer isn't even excited about.
- Put it on the front page of your website
- Pin it to the top of your Facebook page and Twitter accounts
- Email your database about it and ask if anyone is willing to share
- Put it in your social banners
- Share it often on your social sites
- Make a Facebook and Google+ event
- Put it on Eventbrite.com or Meetup.com for easy access
Overall, you need to take a public relations mindset about connecting and pair it with a marketing mindset of getting the word out.