the following guest post was written by Matt Wilson of Under 30 CEO
With the hype of Twitter everyone wants to know–how do I use this tool to successfully grow my business? The answer is public relations. As described by Wikipedia “Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics.” What better tool to have than a platform where you can send messages out to the publics on behalf of the company?
But I’m a startup, nobody cares about my company
So, let’s start at stage one, it’s time to get press for your startup by forming valuable relationships on Twitter. Sure, if a major corporation like Comcast uses Twitter they’ll get some attention out of it, but the little guys who are just looking for some ink need work a little bit. To get PR you have to look promising, this means establishing relationships and credibility in your industry. When you do make a pitch people will check you out and think “wow, these guys are the next big thing, I’m going to write them up.” Here are 5 steps to look like a promising story.
Step 1: Have a presence. If you pitch someone on Twitter and you are nobody, they’ll look at you as just that. Look like you’ve been on Twitter for a while: organically grow at least a couple hundred followers and tweet a couple hundred times. Don’t look like a newbie hopping on Twitter just to pitch. Gain a little bit of status first before you approach the media.
Step 2: Follow the right people. Make sure you have your finger on the pulse of the industry. If someone talks about your niche, you need to be in on it. Be on the scene and talk to the right people. Use search.twitter.com to track keywords, know who the players are in your industry, find the big dogs on wefollow.com and start engaging with them. This will give you an idea of what’s being written and talked about in your industry. Now you’ll understand how people promote themselves and their work.
Step 3: Have some friends. The first step to credibility is having people vouch for you. On Twitter simply communicating with other credible people is enough. If you’ve gone back and forth with people who know what they are talking about it is automatically assumed that you know what you are talking about. Talk to people with blogs, who have a voice and are well connected. The first thing someone will do after you pitch them is look at your recent Twitter activity. It better not be about what you had for lunch, hopefully its some dialogue with people they might know.
Step 4: Have a solid site linked up on Twitter. If someone wants to find out if you are the real deal, they are going to visit your site. You need a presence that says: this is why you should write about me. Your About page should link to other press you’ve received, testimonials, a bio and mission statement. Don’t skimp here, this is where you will be judged.
Step 5: Passion trumps all. If you have enough enthusiasm about a subject matter people will pay attention. If you are looking to be on TV or radio, the most passionate people who give their subject matter personality and excitement will be most attractive. Nobody wants to book a boring interview, so look alive. Post tweets that exude some energy, get on camera and start a video blog and tweet about those, do something to show you want to own your industry.
It’s time to find people who will give you some exposure.
Blogs: Bloggers are abundant on Twitter. Find any industry blog and you most likely can find their Twitter account. Establishing a rapport with bloggers is good, because if you are already “friends” with them, they are much more likely to write about you. Pitching them straight out, probably won’t work, unless you are super newsworthy. All bloggers need a break at some point so why not offer to help them out. Ask to guest post–this will at least get a link back to your company, make you sound intelligent and will tap another audience you would not otherwise have reached. If your post does well, then you’ll have a much greater chance of the blogger writing a post on you and your company in the future.
Radio: Everyone radio host needs guests. Asking straight out to come on a radio show is a lot easier. Bloggers have to sit and write about you, all a radio host has to do is have a conversation with you. Find your industry shows on uStream or BlogTalkRadio, google “entrepreneurship radio” or whatever your niche might be. Write to them and give it a shot. DM them and tell them why your appearance would interest their readers. Remember: you need to look like you’ll provide huge value, so don’t forget Step 4.
TV: Beware of any TV hosts who call you after you send out a press release, they may want to be paid to have you on their show. In any event, calling producers can’t hurt. The former COO of 800-Got-Junk? Cameron Herold says the best method to get free PR is simply picking up the phone and saying “I have a great story for you.” Under30CEO booked a Fox News gig by making friends with on air talent via Twitter, she simply liked us and gave us a slot.
Publications: Follow HARO, the Help a Reporter newsletter closely and shoot an email to any reporter who needs help. Competition is tough, so don’t be discouraged, you may only hear back from 1 in 10 HARO emails you send. You can also pitch writers and offer them help with a story. Getting on the phone with them also tends to work. Writers wake up everyday thinking “what am I going to write about this week”, so take advantage of that opportunity. Get on their good side and tweet about their recent articles and have some dialogue with them first. It’s all about establishing personal relationships. Then, turn this personal relationship into a transactional relationship and get some ink!
Once you do appear don’t forget to Tweet the link! The more exposure you can bring to that person’s work the better it is for both of you.
If you’d like more tips and tricks like these check out the Under30 Rock Star Business Series.