Have you seen what PR firms charge these days? It’s a classic example of “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”
That’s okay. Who needs high-priced PR pros anyway? Well, obviously someone does, or they’d be out of business. But if you’re reading this, that someone probably isn’t you.
So why not take matters into your own hands and create your own luck? DIY PR isn’t exactly easy, but it’s not rocket science either. You can do it if you’re organized, dogged, and really motivated not to pay someone else to do it for you.
Here’s your road map for personal PR success.
1. Cultivate High-Quality, High-Probability Earned Media Mentions
Focus on media opportunities that tick three boxes:
- High-quality outlets
- Relatively likely to be published
- Relevant to your industry
How does this look IRL? A lot like this interview with Steve Streit. Streit, a financial technology entrepreneur and venture capitalist , is speaking about his investing approach to a well-read outlet that covers people like him. It’s a simple yet effective approach that you can easily make work for you.
2. Craft Made-to-Order Content for Third-Party Publishers
You never want to try to write someone’s article for them — that’s likelier than not to backfire with serious reporters, in fact.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t produce high-quality made-to-order articles and infographics for content-hungry digital publishers.
You won’t get many bites, and you’ll want to guarantee exclusivity to avoid potential duplicate content issues, but this can pay off big time when successful. Whether it’s earned media when it bears your byline is a legitimate question, but that’s mostly splitting hairs.
3. Always Have an Angle
When you pitch, you need an angle. Period.
You need multiple versions of this angle, however. You need to customize your outreach to the publication you’re pitching, or at least to the audience they’re serving.
This means you need multiple versions of your pitch emails. No one said DIY PR wasn’t a lot of work.
4. Create and Distribute (Or Promote) High-Quality Original Content That Publishers Can Pull From
Yes, this is distinct from #2. Here, we’re talking about content that’s not meant to be published without alteration. Thought leadership content, in other words.
This content can live on your personal or corporate website or some other repository that you control. But you still need to promote it because there’s no guarantee the right people will see it otherwise — unless it goes viral, in which case, great. But that requires a lot of work on #6.
5. Do Good in Your Community and Industry
Pro bono work, volunteer days, splashy non-anonymous donations to charity. These are the sorts of “good news” that tend to get covered in local media. You do them out of the good of your heart — really — but if they get covered in the press, all the better.
6. Stretch Your Limits on Social Media
If you really want to be good at self-promotion, you need to be good at social media. Without being too irreverent for your industry, of course — but you do want to drive organic engagement and maybe, just maybe, go viral once in a while.
7. Always Be Networking
This will serve you well beyond your DIY PR operation, of course. It might as well be the Golden Rule for ambitious professionals in the digital age.
That said, many nonmedia professionals don’t see the need to network with media types. They feel like they don’t have the time or just don’t feel comfortable in an alien-seeming world.
Resist the urge to stay in your industry bubble. At industry events, make a point to speak with media types. Attend open-to-the-public events for pros in the greater media ecosystem. And devote at least a few hours per month to building and maintaining a contact list of media pros who cover your industry and region.
You Won’t Know Until You Try
Being your own PR sherpa sounds like a tall order. Like something you’d want an advanced degree for — or at least a couple years of on-the-job training.
Relax. You’ll probably never be as seasoned as a true professional, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to manage your own outreach. You won’t know until you try — and you might just surprise yourself.