I know it’s been a while since I’ve put anything up, but now that the holidays are (finally) over, I have a little bit of breathing room. Since my time has been sparse lately, I’m going to batch up several different post ideas into one. They all revolve around local PR.
Aside from some brief info on radio advertising, all these methods are completely free.
What Does PR Have to do With Search?
I’m a firm believer that PR is a stones throw away from search and social. They make great accents to each other, especially if you’re focusing on local markets or brick and mortar businesses.
Think about the visits your business or client gets when you get a review on a popular blog. An interview on a local news section or paper has the same potential with physical visitors. In person traffic also has a higher chance to convert since they’ve committed to going to your establishment, however it’s an absolute bitch to track. I’ll cover that later, but for now here are some examples.
All the below examples are for Skinny Limits, which provides vegan products in retail locations and raw juices nationally.
Example 1: Local Paper Excerpt
This is going to be one of the easier ones. Local papers always have sections about what’s changing in the area. The content varies drastically depending on the size of your city, but there’s always something.
Below is an example of something we caught in a paper:
I know the image is a little fuzzy, so basically this is a monthly section that tells you every establishment that’s opened, had an anniversary, or is doing something out of the ordinary in the city. Considering we had both an anniversary coming up, as well as new establishments popping up, this was an easy win. There was a contact column for this section of the paper, as seen below.
They couldn’t have made it any easier. Local papers are getting a little more savvy (desperate) and are making it easier for people to reach out. Our marketing associate reached out with a simple email as seen below:
From here it lead to a phone call and then a listing in said section of the paper.
Example 2: Radio Mention
This ones a bit tricker. Radio advertising is massively over priced, so you can’t just ask for a mention.
Skinny Limits had a customer who came into the shop a few times and we discovered he ran a radio segment. Everyone made sure he was well taken care of when he visited.
I also found his twitter profile and tried to interact with him through our company account when possible. Basically, everyone made an effort to build a relationship with him.
Weeks later one of his co-hosts mentioned he was considering doing a cleanse and he gave Skinny Limits a shout out.
This is the traffic we received for that day:
At the time, this was a pretty successful day for us and brought in extra business for several days. However, it was short lived.
If you’re curious about the actual segment, you can listen to it here – Skinny Radio Mention
Soon after, they approached us about advertising on their show. Considering we got a decent amount of business from the one segment, we decided to give it a shot. For the next 2 months our segment ran, and while we got some extra trickle in business, it ultimately didn’t seem worth the cost.
I noticed it performed better as an introductory step to other forms of advertising. For example, we had an expo event soon after and several people mentioned hearing our ad on the radio. This was one of our highest converting days in expo sales, as people knew about us before they saw our booth.
Would I pay for radio advertising again? No. Would I try to target a natural mention again? Fuck yes.
Example 3: Live News Segment
Ok, while the example I’m presenting comes off easy, I attempted this several times before I got a bite.
The first thing that happened, is a follower we noticed on our twitter account:
After searching for any sort of contact information, the most valuable thing I could find was her Facebook account. So, I went for it.
And she responded:
I can’t share the entire conversation, but basically we were willing to bend over backwards and accomodate them with anything they needed to create their segment. This was the end result:
This became one of our busiest days at our store locations, but had little effect on our online sales. That was surprising considering the outcome of our radio mention.
Ultimately, it required little effort from us and was absolutely worth it. However, it necessitated some persistence. I reach out to roughly 12 people from various news networks before bearing any fruit.
Example 4: News Paper Article
Here’s another one for the paper, but for an actual article. We spotted a food section in a local paper, as seen below:
This looked like a great section for us to be in, so we sought out a contact. After a minute of searching, it ended up being right in front of us:
I also did a quick search for her name and found some additional contact info, although it wasn’t necessary in this instance.
Knowing this wasn’t as simple as asking a blogger to write a review, we attempted to soften her up a bit and mentioned we wanted to send her some samples to get her opinion.
We went through the entire process of setting up a sample pack and got it out to her. I followed up with her the day she received her samples and she enjoyed the product. Soon after, we got a section in the paper:
Example 5: Magazine Article Mention
Lastly, here is how we landed a free shout out in a magazine article that costs well over $1k to advertise in for one month.
By chance, one of Skinny Limits’s owners picked up a magazine while in a waiting room and stumbled onto an article mentioning juicing. The editor stated they wanted to try juicing next month.
This was an obvious opportunity for us to provide the author with their juice, in hopes of a shout out in the magazine.
After some digging, I found that this author was part of several different groups and was well recognized, but they did a damn good job of hiding any direct contact. I resorted to reaching out to them on Twitter, as it was the only direct contact I could find.
Another easy win! Our mention wasn’t huge, but it did give us a spot alongside much larger competitors, when normally we’d have gotten no mention at all.
We also got a nice positive review post on the magazines blog, which wasn’t the intention, but was absolutely welcomed!
How to Spot PR Opportunities
I think people make this more complicated than it is. You know all those blogs you follow, comment on, and tweet about? Treat traditional media the exact same way. Subscribe to several local magazines and newspapers, follow local news social handles, and set up Google Alerts for relevant local terms.
Scan it all on your lunch hour until you find something even slightly relevant and just reach out. Do whatever you can to help that person find something to write about you. Provide them with whatever ammunition they need.
It isn’t more complicated than that. A lot of you do these same exact things when targeting blogs.
What do I Offer for PR
This isn’t straight forward. Every business is going to be different with divergent expendable resources. In most of the above instances, we were able to offer samples. However, just because you don’t have an inexpensive resource, doesn’t mean you’re screwed.
Let’s take the automative sales space as an example. If you run a dealership, you obviously can’t giveaway cars in exchange for PR (unless it’s a damn good deal).
But here are some things you may be able to do:
- Sponsor a car for an event
- Sponsor a van to help someone less fortunate move
- Cut a percentage of your next few sales and donate it
- If you’re expanding into a new space, offer that space up to an event until you move in. (It’s just sitting there anyway)
- Create a reoccurring event for awareness and anticipation, for example a bi-yearly run that is donation based.
I’m going to be straight up, I have no experience in the automotive space and I pulled these entirely out of my ass. These could very well bomb. The point is, there’s always something expendable aside from your product.
How to Track PR Performance
This is probably the most difficult thing I ran into, and to be blunt, you’re not going to find a perfect way to do it. Here are some things we used for various instances.
- If it’s something on print, but are selling a digital product, try a coupon code
- If it’s digital, but want to sell in the physical world, try a printable coupon
- If it’s print that’s in a neighborhood close to your physical location, try a coupon insert
- If it’s a radio or tv broadcast, make it easy and have them mention the segment to redeem a discount
- If it’s an expo or physical event, give them a coupon they can redeem at a physical location
- If you have cashiers or clerks, simply have them ask the customer how they hard about you, and keep a list they can tick off
- Create a survey card where customers receive a discount for submitting
I’m admittedly telling you these are not full proof, and you’re going to end up with a giant stack of coupons and papers that are going to be equally hard to organize, but it’s something. Anything you can do to track, helps.
A lot of you have already done these same exact things, but focus on the digital side of it. They work just as well with other forms of media.