Marketing September 1, 2010 Last updated September 18th, 2018 680 Reads share

How to build PR for your business – effectively and on a budget

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Have you had to reduce your marketing spend?

Are you trying to build the profile of your business on a budget?

Do you want your business/you/your products/your services to be featured in newspapers and magazines that are read by your target audience?

This is how I did it with my company Garrendenny Lane – a small company that was selling interior design consultancy plus designers fabrics and wallpapers and is now creating a new website to target UK, US and Irish customers with home accessories, wallpapers and fabrics, and gifts.

Towards the end of 2009, I decided I needed to put more work into offline marketing.  Since commencing my blog in January 2008, I had estimated that blogging brought in about 40% of business in 2008 but it was more difficult to monitor its effectiveness in 2009.  During 2009, the unique visits to my site had increased from 2,500 per month in January to 10,000 in December – largely as a result of writing blog posts, using Twitter from March 2009 and Facebook from September 2009.  I was happy with my online publicity campaign, yet acknowledging that it needs tweaking and changing from time to time, I wanted to improve the offline profile of my business.

Step 1:

Find a unique selling point – your USP.  If you are finding it hard to come up with something, look at what is being said about other businesses – do you do it better or differently?  We often see a USP as something that is unattainable whereas with some brainstorming and some research, it could be right under your fingertips.

I negotiated exclusivity with two up and coming wallpaper and fabric designers, both of whom design and produce high-quality products.  The reason I asked for exclusivity was simply so that I could use it in a press release.

Step 2:

Use Media contact, Przone or Irish Press Releases or send the press releases directly to the editors or journalists in your preferred publication

I actually won (on Twitter) a voucher to send a free press release through Media Contact which also meant I could target particular publications.  I featured one of my exclusive ranges within the press release. The result was that 5 journalists contacted me looking for more high-res images and all five featured the wallpapers – hence Garrendenny Lane got coverage in House and Home, Image Interiors, the Home supplement of the Sunday Times, Munster Interiors and the Sunday Business Post.  The editor of House and Home magazine even emailed me and came for a chat and a cup of tea one afternoon.

Step 3:

Keep those contacts – use them again when you have something new. Make life easier for the journalists by providing them with news of innovative or new products and trends.

Whenever I have new products now or a new exclusivity deal, I email these journalists. 3 of them have repeatedly featured my products within their pages or their publications. I always send a quick email too to say thank you!

Step 4:

Let your offline and online marketing complement each other.  Celebrate your offline mention by scanning it onto your Facebook page.  Create a press page for your website and insert all the press features there.

I always highlight my offline features on my blog, face book and twitter. I find that journalists sometimes contact me for images or information having read one of my blog posts or having seen an offline feature elsewhere.

Step 5:

Don’t expect miraculous results from one mention. In my opinion, PR is about keeping up the profile, keeping the business in people’s minds too so that when they do need your service or product, they will think of your company.

Keep working at it.  It is easy to let it slip when you see lots of coverage but remember that the lead time means that publication is often 2-6 months after you have sent the press release. Allocate some time to your marketing each week – it will pay off.

During 2010, Garrendenny Lane Interiors has been featured numerous times in Munster Interiors, Image Interiors, House and Home, UR Dream Home, Homes Supplement of the Irish Sunday Times, Friday’s property pages and the Mothers and Babies supplement of the Irish Independent, Sunday Business Post, Irish Interiors.

Lorna has also been featured in the ‘People in Business’ slot in the Sunday Business Post.

I would like to emphasise that I have no experience in PR or marketing.  I worked hard at it because my budget for advertising was virtually zero.  My next challenge is to raise my company’s profile in the UK interiors magazines!

How do you build PR for your business?

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Lorna Sixsmith

Lorna Sixsmith

Lorna Sixsmith is a social media trainer at Write on Track, providing mentoring, training and content creation services to SMEs. Particularly passionate about blogging and Pinterest, Lorna also teaches these courses online at We Teach Social. Married to a dairy farmer in SE Ireland, Lorna recently self published her first book 'Would You Marry A Farmer?', a humourous look at life married to an Irish farmer.

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