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PR on a budget (a time budget that is)

It is said that time is a precious commodity and the amount you have available will determine how much of that time is allocated to performing non-income generating tasks, such as PR. If outsourcing your PR to a specialist is not in your plans, whether for budgetary or other reasons, then you need to work out how to get your name ‘out there.’

These tips will help.

Tap into trends: Keep a close eye on what is being talked about in your sector and identify those areas where you can have a voice. For instance, if you provide staffing solutions for the healthcare sector could you add to the current debate on the doctor’s strike?

If so, write a blog post for your website or LinkedIn profile (ideally both). But only consider a press release if what you have to say is newsworthy and can be backed up with cold hard facts.

For example, the healthcare sector is increasingly characterised by high staff turnover, with 1 in 4 workers leaving their posts each year. As a nation, the UK ranks a disappointing 18th place out of the top 20 leading industrial nations when it comes to employee engagement levels. Yet there is overwhelming evidence showing that those organisations with an effective employee engagement plan in place experience significantly increased levels of staff retention, increased productivity and better patient outcomes.

Tip: For speed purposes, keep your posts to no more than 350 words.

Social media: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn will all raise your online branding, providing you do them right. Direct users to your latest blog posts, share information from the day’s news, link to case studies and engage with key influencers.

Influencers can be potential (and lapsed) clients and journalists who write in the media of most interest to you or, so keep a check on what they are reporting on as quite often journalists will post a request for information via their Twitter profiles – information that you may be able to provide for them (and get quoted in return!).

Enter competitions: Business awards are a great way to generate some free PR – largely because other people will be doing the writing about you! Find out what business awards are being run in your local area that you could enter, not forgetting the national awards for your industry and those that cover each sector in which you operate.

Help a reporter out: Editors and journalists receive dozens of press releases each day but only a handful will see the light of day – the rest will be binned. If you want to become a resource for a journalist in your local paper, for instance, get in contact with them.

Draft a short bio (and we mean short – no more than three sentences – this is not mean’t to be a CV!) of who you are, what you do and what areas of advice and commentary you could provide. But before you send it off, you need to consider these two things:

  1. Does this in anyway come across as ‘salesy’? If it does, you are about to bugger up any chance of ever being contacted by that journalist. So don’t try to sell yourself as “the market leading XYZ” or “expert” or “the go-to  provider” of anything because that will wind them up like you would never believe (not to mention sealing the fate on your chances of ever getting published in that media!).
  2. Is there anything trending right now that I can use as a hook? Don’t go in cold, try to link your email to a story in the media that the journalist will be familiar with or reference an article they have recently written. This will make it easier to establish a rapport and it could result in a quick quote there and then.

If all of this still seems a little more time consuming than you would like, well, tough. There are no short cuts to becoming positioned as a company of choice, it is a status that must be earned not winged.

But if you are serious about raising your profile, you will need to set aside time each week to work on your business as well as in it. If you can’t afford the time, you may need to consider outsourcing your PR. This will not only see your return on your PR investment increase significantly, it will free up your time to focus on what you do best.

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