When I was five years old and in kindergarten, the Miami Herald came to my school looking to do a piece on friends. They asked one of the teachers to recommend two friends who were inseparable.
At the time, my lifelong friend and I Mitchell were the ones. We spent a lot of time together and still do (30 something years later).
The story ran in the paper and featured 4 or 5 different aged pairs of friends. They interviewed us and printed it in the weekend section.
Below is a little excerpt of our amazing interview that I still laugh at to this day.
This was great and I loved it. It’s a great memory I have.
So this story is a little random and you’re probably wondering how it relates to your online store. This type of press and coverage doesn’t happen often.
I was randomly picked and featured in the paper. Sitting back and waiting for papers or sites to feature you, doesn’t work. You need to go where the reporters or bloggers are and push yourself.
Public Relations Is For the Big Boys
If you are a super fancy, funded, startup, you could hire a PR firm. They would sing your praise from the highest mountain top.
They would reach out to all their cronies and get your site and company featured. You would get write ups in papers and magazines and the word would be spread.
But what if you are just starting your online store?
What if you aren’t one of the big guys and you can’t afford a PR team?
How are you supposed to get featured and covered in publications?
GOOD NEWS: There is a way, and I’m going to show you how. It’s not coming to you though. You have to help yourself.
PR Trick 1 for Online Stores
The internet has reinvented almost all businesses including PR. Bloggers have a voice now and are more accessible than ever before. They carry huge weight online, and often have audiences that follow their every move.
These bloggers are looking to make a living and are looking for content. I wrote about this and how I used FameBit and YouTube for my ecommerce marketing.
I have written before about how I used a site called Fiverr to get our business logo design. Since then I have also found some other great services that I will be writing about over the next couple weeks.
But the technique I want to talk about here is finding bloggers. While you could go “all in” and find bloggers to collaborate with in a more manual process, we are going to go with some easy wins.
If you haven’t heard of Fiverr its essentially a site where people all over the world are willing to do things for $5. In our case we are looking for publicity.
The first step is to search on Fiverr for blog mention. You will see tons of results that come up.
WARNING: 90% of the results are garbage. You don’t want to be featured on garbage sites. Even worse, you don’t want to get a backlink from a site that has a bad reputation.
What you are looking for are profiles that are based in the US, and members who own and operate their own blogs.
Like I said the majority of these sites are “not good.” They are created by SEO companies or other people that offer a backlink in exchange for money.
You want to find actual bloggers who have an audience.
But How Can You Tell Who’s a Real Blogger?
Once you find a profile and a gig that is related to your targeted audience, you want to visit their website. Sometimes, they won’t publicly mention their URL. You can often get creative and look at the pictures in their listing to see if the site name is shown.
Worst case scenario, you can send them a quick message like so.
Hey I was interested in your gig but wanted to know if you could share the URL so I can review it ahead of time.
75% of the time they will respond with the site. If they don’t, they were no good anyhow.
When you go to the site, you want to see if there is any life on the site.
- When was the last time they published?
- Is the content relevant to your site?
- Are the readers like minded to your demographic?
- Are there any comments or social shares of any of the prior posts?
The more relevant and active the site is, the better for you.
Once you have isolated a gig that looks appealing, go for it. Some of the jobs will actually ask that you write your own summary while others will write their own.
Within a couple of days you should have a post published. This has been an incredible way for my wife’s site to actually get featured on some really great sites with large audiences.
Don’t be impatient though. Find the right sites and discard the majority of the others. Also manage your expectations. These are not Grade A sites and therefor the traffic is limited. At the least it’s another backlink and you haven’t spent a lot of money.
PR Trick 2 for Online Stores
The next trick that I use just about every day for all my online businesses is HARO. HARO is short for Help a Reporter Out.
The concept is simple. Reporters are looking for qualified sources for news stories, blog posts, magazines articles, and TV Shows.
HARO maintains an email list of tons of people like yourself who receive an email 3 times a day. This email includes specific requests from reporters looking for quotes or statements. They are categorized by industry.
You will see requests from huge publications including the major news networks like NBC, CBS, Huffington Post, and thousands of other large publications.
Did I mention that this service is free? This is one of the greatest ways to get featured in some incredible places.
It’s Not Easy Getting Picked Up By The Press
Just because you have the lead though, doesn’t mean it’s easy. You have to approach this strategically. Here are some pointers that have been really helpful in getting my sites featured when using HARO.
- Don’t Force It –Don’t force your response for something that isn’t related. If the request is asking for a quote from a dietitian, don’t waste your time giving a response if you aren’t one. Give them specifically what they want and don’t waste either of your time, trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.
- Give Them What They Want –Make sure you answer the question. If they are looking for your best tip to making it somewhere on time, give it to them. Don’t answer another question or tell them something unrelated. They are writing a story and want a specific answer. Give them that answer.
- Make It Easy To Read –Organize your response nicely. I use the following layout when I respond to HARO inquires. I like to clearly define, who I am, my site, the pitch, and my contact info. They are getting potentially hundreds of responses. If it’s not clean and easy to scan, it won’t get read.
- Don’t Play Hard to Get –Answer the response in the actual email. Don’t just email them and say you have the perfect response. These people are busy. Most of the time you will never hear from them. Make sure your pitch is complete, as it stands, without them having to contact you.
- Leave Them Alone –Don’t bother them again. If they want to speak to you or ask you questions they will. Leave them be. You may not know you have been featured until you see traffic coming from these sites. Keep an eye on your analytics but don’t ask the reporter.
- Don’t Get Discouraged –This is a numbers game. You may be lucky to get a hit on 5% of your submissions. Make sure to tailor your comment to their story and try and offer them something different. Practice makes perfect.
Both of these approaches can take some time to perfect but can be incredibly rewarding for your online store. I have been able to get our businesses featured in some incredible places without having to hire a PR firm.
Take the time and put in the work, and it will pay off. Building your online store requires commitment and time. These two avenues will help you find new customers and expand your sales.
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