How Small Businesses Can Use Social Media to Gain PR Traction

By Susan Tucker

social media for pr | get susan marketing

For small business owners looking to grow their business (and who isn’t?) public relations can be a key function in your marketing mix. Not only can PR drive brand awareness and amplify your core message, it can also introduce you to new prospects and customers.

However, if you are still relying on ‘old school’ press releases that are mass emailed (or snail-mailed!) to newspaper editors, you may be stuck in the Dark Ages of public relations. Modernize your approach by incorporating a few social media tactics into your strategy and you will dramatically increase your chances of being seen and shared by the right folks.

Before you begin your search,  create a document to track any contact information you gather. I like to keep mine in Google Docs so it is easy to access from wherever I am. (In case I hear back while on-the-go.) The fields I have are: Site Name, Website, First & Last Name, Phone Number, Email, handles for Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and Notes.

How to Find Influencers 

There are several methods for finding leaders and Influencers using social media and it will depend on which network you would like to focus on. In this post I am focusing on the “big 3”: LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Here are how to find Influencers for each.

For LinkedIn:

  • LinkedIn Groups: search Groups by keywords. I like to search by the terms “inbound marketing”, “digital marketing” and “social media.” Group owners are likely to be key Influencers.
  • LinkedIn Influencers is a fairly new program that allows thought-leaders share content directly with users. These are folks that could be good to make connections with (see below.)
  • Search articles by keyword. This will take you to another page that will show you the authors of pieces using the keywords you have queried.

For Twitter: 

  • Use the Search function to query keywords, and industry publications. Once you find the industry pubs, navigate to their “lists” and you will likely find their journalists.
  • Follow Trending Topics and Hashtags
  • External apps such as Simply Measured, Followerwonk, and NinjaOutreach make it easy to find the best Influencers for your industry on Twitter.

For Facebook:

  • Use Facebook Search to seek industry leaders.
  • Check out and join industry-relevant Facebook groups. (In search bar type: Groups named “your keyword.”)

How to Connect with Influencers

Once you have created your lists and starting adding information, now it’s time to make connections. The biggest shift from “Dark Ages PR” and modern PR is to change your mindset from constantly pitching. Build lasting connections by being truly engaged in what Influencers are posting about.

Do this by:

  • Reposting their content
  • Commenting on their posts
  • Developing a rapport and starting a conversation
  • Sharing their events
  • Setting up a Google Alert for your most-targeted Influencers to stay on top of their happenings
  • Sending non-spammy direct messages

Create Content that Will Gain Media Attention

When crafting content that you are hoping will gain traction, think about The Story. Don’t tell your news… show it through a captivating story. Stories sell and when you make it easy on media outlets and Influencers by crafting media-worthy posts, they are more likely to share it for you.

The most attention-grabbing stories include these characteristics: they are clear, compelling, concise and consistent.

Also, consider the type of articles your Influencers have posted about; reach out and offer a different, yet still compelling, point of view.

Beyond Words

Just as PR has evolved, so has the way we share news. Make your news standout by crafting content beyond words. Consider posting your newsworthy content via Infographic, video, images, and podcast or by a pre-recorded webinar.

Remember consistency is key. Journalists and Influencers get tons of pitches every single day; if your pitch is not relevant in that moment, it doesn’t mean they are not interested. Developing a rapport can keep you top-of-mind for when that magical media moment can happen.

Do you have any PR tips to share? I’d love to know what you’d add to the list!

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