Public relations – how to make your business well known

public relations, media coverage, Catarina's World

Without a clear strategy you will lose an abundance of opportunities of doing PR that will not come back, you will react too slowly and lessen the impact of what you are doing.

How do you get your business in the papers?

How to succeed with PR

To be able to swiftly react to news you really have to know what you are aiming for with your PR activities. What’s your target group? What’s your message? Who’s your spokesperson? What issues do you want to be associated with?

Whenever headline news is associated with what you do, contact media and make a statement. Journalists are keen to hear from companies involved in the sector.

Contact news agencies

Whenever there is news you would like to comment on call news agencies immediately and make a statement. The earlier you call the higher the likelihood of you being quoted.

Focus on developments in your area

What’s being debated in parliament? What events are taking place? Inform journalists about news in your company that are related to what’s going on and issues being debated. Don’t forget to give them background, facts and comments.

Scoops give opportunities

Whenever a newspaper has a scoop you can give them additional information and your points of view. Journalists will be keen to publish what you say since you prove that their scoop really was remarkable.

Take advantage of lack of headline news

When there is lack of news it’s easy to get an interesting story published. And getting your company in the papers during the weekends is not as difficult as during the week. It’s not for nothing that Wikileaks always release their documents on Fridays. Always be prepared to take advantage of not much happening in the world by having press releases and articles ready to submit. And make sure that spokespersons are available to comment.

Anniversaries and jubilees are good occasions

An easy way to start a press release is by stating something like “with our national day coming up…” and then going on to whatever it is you would like to get published. Volvo for instance got a lot of coverage by taking advantage of International Women’s Day by launching a car developed by and for women in connection with it.

Timing is key

Save your news until you need publicity, for instance because of fundraising or an IPO. A good example of that is how some fundraising organisations try to get as much publicity as they can at the end of the year which is the time when they raise funds.


If you want to impact decisions being taken you need to start lobbying long before the matter will be decided upon. For instance, if you are keen on being voted entrepreneur of the year it’s a good idea to start submitting articles to the opinion section of major newspapers just before the jury will meet to decide who will be the lucky one.

Avoid days when much is happening

The day the budget is released, war breaks out somewhere or someone famous is taken to hospital it’s a waste of time to try to get your press release published. It will not work for the simple reason that other more important events are taking place.

Forget about sending emails

Call the journalists. This is by far the most effective way to connect with media because they receive hundreds of emails every day. While everyone else is scared of getting a big no in their ear, having a bit of courage will get you further in the PR game.

The press release is dead. At least, the old press release where you e-blast news desks, reporters, and news-wires. While online media releases do serve SEO purposes and have track-able metrics, in a world of spam the last thing an editor wants is another generic email about the launch of something.

How are you handling your PR? Still sending press releases by email? Do you usually get your press releases published? Have you developed good relations with journalists in key papers? What strategies have you tried and which ones work for you? What suggestions do you have for companies trying to get more impact from their PR activities?

Pictures: PhotoXpress – Christopher Hall + Suzie Tremmel

96 thoughts on “Public relations – how to make your business well known

  1. So many great ideas here! I love that you emphasize personal relationships rather than initiating a conversation via email. Far too few people do that these days!

  2. Great advice! We have an election happening in Ontario right now so trying to garner attention is very challenging unless you can hook your issue to politics, even then it can be challenging if you look like you are siding with one party over another.

  3. Great idea on sending your news out when things are quiet. Your news will not get lost in all the other drama. In some fields there is no such thing as bad publicity- as long as people are watching and reading, you are in the forefront. Celebrities rely on any type of publicity to remain in the news.

  4. When small business owners create a business plan they often include advertising but neglect to include public relations, one of the most cost-effective methods for small businesses to raise awareness.

  5. Great article! PR is super important for our business, especially as a start up. Never thought to take advantage of the downtime and post on a weekend – might have to test that strategy out! Thanks for the tips!

  6. Great advice, public relations and promotions are vital and go hand in hand with each other. We must constantly remember that it is our job to set our agenda and put our story out. If we don't put our story out the way we want it, someone else will and we have no idea how they will present us.

  7. The publicity game does take a lot of effort! I've found that by forging relationships online with members of the media and fellow bloggers, I am able to get a pretty good stream of publicity happening that helps me keep my name, book, and services in the limelight.
    My recent post chocolate travel explained

  8. Useful information for those who run businesses at this level. Although I am not there yet it is beneficial to learn about different aspects of business.

    1. Start by getting a business plan together focusing on something you would enjoy doing that would make you a lot of money. Then you can start dealing with how to make your company well known.

  9. Very good list of ways to get your business noticed in the press. It sounds as if timing and the ability to react quickly to events are key.

  10. This public relation post is very helpful. I agree that press-releases can be dry. I have a few clients that do them and it tends to be more about the description of their real estate instead of why the reader should buy. When I was heavily doing home organizing years ago, I had writer contacts for local papers who would contact me for tips and quotes to use on their articles. It helped make me an expert in my area.

    1. Have been an editor and editor in chief for numerous years in the past. Believe me, most press releases go straight to the bin. If a company still wants to use press releases they should hire a journalist to write them. Glad you had writer contacts that contacted you for quotes and how you benefitted from it.

  11. Following your advice here – for your post! "Avoid days where much is happening." As it is today in the USA we are celebrating our independence from England, July 4th, this weekend. It seems a dilemma because sharing your post today, might go unnoticed? So I've split the difference and shared on one platform and queued up a share for July 5th!
    My recent post 4 Ways to Celebrate Your Introvert Freedom

  12. What a wealth of information that is too often overlooked. I think when it is applicable, new or developing businesses should consider what their PR strategies and tactics should be in order to take advantage of timely opportunities that can be missed as you stated. Great tips!

  13. Very good suggestions on using PR to promote your business. Forward planning is one thing I am not very good at as I can never think so far ahead…that’s where PR firms are very good as they know what article at which stage will create the best impact. In fact some of points are worth bearing in mind even when blogging e.g writing recipes for certain big events and not posting them at weekends etc as I have found that my blog doesn’t get many hits atr weekends.

    1. Glad you like my article, Mina. Maybe it would be a good idea for you to contact journalists that write about food and recipes? They may very well publish some of your recipes.

  14. All pertinent points, though I will admit to being slow to learn what to even put in my newsletters since I am trying to draw attention to both my writing and editing. At least I’m headed to a writing conference next week and will get some ideas from that.

  15. Hi Catarina – Building a relationship with the media is really not that difficult. As you say, be prepared and know your facts. One other thing I found – help them out. Sometimes they have a no-show and if you are willing to jump in to be interviewed at the last minute, they remember that and will often repay the favour many times over.
    You’re also right about the emails. They are very impersonal – not exactly relationship building stuff.

      1. There were a number of occasions when I jumped in at the last minute. The one time I had 5 minutes notice to appear on a radio show, due to a no-show. I took the opportunity to be interviewed about a Farm First-Aid, Injury Prevention Event I was organizing. This netted me half an hour of free promotion on the radio before the event plus all day coverage at the event itself. You can't ask for better exposure. The next one was for a last minute interview with me for full front-page coverage in a newly released weekend edition of a county wide paper. Again, little notice but I knew my job which left me always prepared and having the facts.
        Once they knew I was game, I was treated very well, media-wise. Besides, those last-minute ones were often the most fun.
        My recent post Library Book Sales – $$$ for Programs, Deals for Us.

  16. Catarina, this post is a gem. All these helpful suggestions in one place. It is so easy to ignore using PR and so foolish. Relationships are key in business and I enjoy that. Sitting at my computer all day makes me eager to network or touch base with a good connection.

  17. Great advice Catarina. I particularly like having matte stories prepared in advance for those slow moments in the media. I also think it's helpful to try to think outside of your immediate sector and reach out to media folks in other areas. For instance, I work with eye doctors, but I'll reach out to technology writers because with so many of us being on computers there are eye strain issues that need expert advice.
    My recent post Today we celebrate

  18. Excellent points Catarina. I'm amazed how misunderstood PR is in general! A case in point is within the cruise industry as a whole. With more than few disastrous in the last few years, I think they've done the worst job in the PR department. Instead they've issued a series of press releases and decreased pricing hoping to bring the business back up to snuff. I'm not sure anyone has a focused PR campaign in the industry!
    My recent post Freedom… Where’s The Justice?

  19. Yes ma'am. Lately my PR has not really been a focus. LIkely it needs to be with my book ready to be released soon. Since we've been traveling, all for pleasure, about 80% this year, the time to focus on these important issues somewhat dropped off my to do list. I'm letting your post serve as a reminder Catarina.
    My recent post 4 Specifics to Celebrate for Introvert Freedom

    1. Good luck, Pat! It really works to contact the right journalists. Just talk about what you do and they may just offer to interview if they have an interest in the subject.

  20. Catarina,
    I am working on it! Honestly this has not been my priority number one to get media coverage. I try to approach things from local perspective – interacting and spreading ideas among people in my surrounding. But I have thought of approaching various medias….

    1. Good luck, Mirsad. Honestly it's not a priority for me either. But despite that an article was published about when I held a senior management position in Saudi Arabia in Chefstidningen. The latest article about how I now as a consultant enable companies to do business in Saudi Arabia was published by Lunds Universitets news letter to their alumni. It didn't take me more than half an hour to get what I didn't even ask for:-) In both cases it was offered.

  21. Two of my clients regularly create press releases. I think the media they serve expect to hear from them, so the press releases always get attention. But this is because of years of building relationships. And I'm sure they do it all through email now – much more efficient. I have another client who gets her clients in the Wall Street Journal – she also seems to know the ropes and how to do this.
    My recent post Pixel? My Image has Pixels?

  22. So many ways to approach your customer….so true Catarina!
    I try to work with a decisive approach in everything I publish. A clear stand point – opinions – directions – final goals

    1. Have you been successful in getting media to publish comments you have made on news, Mirsad? Or publish an article about your company that ties in with media coverage?

  23. This is very true that public relation is one of the main key for promoting business or making up business well known. Without having good and closed public relation it is almost impossible to build up business well known. SO public relation is mostly important. Thanks

    My recent post Try New Strategies But Never Ignore SEO Marketing

  24. Great tips Catarina. PR is something that I neglect. So, I appreciate your reminder. Thankfully, I have made a connection with the editor of a monthly business journal. All of my correspondence with her has been via email. To date, I've only submitted my workshops to her training calendar but I have toyed with the idea of approaching her with a monthly article. I think she would be receptive to it. This would not be a press release but I think it would be a wonderful opportunity. What are your thoughts on this?
    My recent post Tracking Changes to Your Website Blog and Social Media Strategy

    1. Like your idea Sherryl! If you write it a bit like tabloid journalism she's more likely to be interested in it. They will sub-edit it anyway so headlines that grab her attention should work. But maybe the most important thing is that what you write about has to be "news worthy". So you have to create news out of whatever it is. Even if it's just a new way of looking at social media.

  25. Catarina,

    Thank you. I KNOW I need to do a better job of marketing our efforts. Talking with the Press and other industry bloggers is something I have nothing with. I know…lost opportunity, huh?

    With our next event, I'm going to branch out and talk with some publishers to help get some "press."

    Thanks for the tips.

    My recent post Be More Proactive Using These Four Tips

  26. Catarina — Excellent tips. I do disagree about not using email or press releases. In the U.S. a brief email with a compelling subject line is usually the preferred method of communication for journalists. It's very difficult to get them on the phone, although following up an email pitch with a phone call can work. Also, a press release is often distributed "for the record" by big companies that have a major announcement such as a merger or new product release. In fact, a public company is required to announce major developments that have an impact on their share price — that's usually in the form of a press release (plus other legal notices). Jumping on the news and sending out a quick pitch with your POV on the topic is also very effective.
    My recent post Why Can’t Graphic Designers and Their Clients Ever Agree?

    1. Thanks Jeannette. What you describe is reality. However, you have to find ways of getting to know the journalists you need to know. If not getting them to publish anything related to you will be like playin g roulette.

  27. Brilliant, Catarina.

    When the Bush Gore election was on, I decided to become the virtual candidate for the US Senate. I posted a website. That tie-in help every website I designed skyrocket in the rankings. A sample website I put up for a potential client skyrocketed to # 6 in the search ranks overnight. I was interviewed in the local paper.

    Still, location, location, location. I was selling to a niche market and I failed to pursue skills needed for the larger market. Also, I did not have "a plan".

    Once you are prepared to take advantage of good PR, be prepared to capitalise on it by having the skills and products you want to sell.


    My recent post China! Economics! Diversification!

    1. Thank you Slim. If you used to be such a star online, why can't you re-design your blog and get it ranked high? Since I have explained what to do over and over again, why don't you instead repeat what you did online and become a virtual candidate for the presidency of the United States? Good timing with elections coming up. Then maybe we could trade places and I can learn from you instead instead:-)

  28. Great post Catarina. Certainly highlights some timely reminders on how to take the initiative when it come to bringing your expertise to the public domain.

  29. You always provide great tips. This is very useful who is trying to make good PR. Do the journalists actually take calls from people? How can we create that kind of connection? Everyone give attention to the expert in the field. You are talking about big shots in their field right?
    My recent post New Crochet project

    1. Thank you Bindurani. You have to make the journalist interested in talking to you. You need to find the journalists that cover the kind of topics that apply to you. Then call them when you have something news worthy. But if you don't charm them and make them interested in what you have to say, you will fail. And how we do that is individual. Am sure you will find a way. Good luck!

  30. Great suggestions Catarina. Lack of headline news – never really thought of it as a opportunity until now. I especially like the Volvo anniversary example. Very useful! Thanks.

  31. Hey Catarina,

    Do you know a good method to gather contact information for journalists? Definately agree with the need for relationship building in PR and finding exactly what they want to publish, but often it is hard to make that initial connection. Any advice is very appreciated!


  32. Although I do do do much PR these days you are right about the relationships. This has always been the case , just the channels and tools that you can use today have increased. The old spraying of press releases were hit and miss.

    Very good article Catarina.

      1. Sorry I did not see your comment. There are websites that appeal to who you are tageting. For example if you want to target small businesses, the Small Business Trends has a section where you can add your PR release.

        I would also set up Google alerts which ever way you do PR to make sure you know you is publishing the information and where.

        I am sure there are people who specialise in PR that could give you more information.

  33. Hi Catarina,

    Thanks for the great suggestions about how to handle PR. I know that I certainly learned a lot from your article. Rob's suggestion about local or community newspapers is also valuable. Thanks Rob!

  34. Good ideas Catarina. I also learned from Sally Shields, to tie into news headlines. She is a master at PR. I don't agree that emailing press releases are dead, in particular since just last week, I emailed about being one of 365 women selected out of 5,000 to have a few-words-of-wisdom appear in a woman's calendar. It appeared, people noticed, the email worked. Maybe that is because it was local news? Great post.

  35. I have a designer/illustrators micro-event that I'm going to start planning so these tips come in handy. Thanks.

  36. Catarina:

    Knowing what you want too do with PR gets you pretty far in the battle. You are correct that one more press release in the pile will not necessarily get you any news. You offer some good suggestions. One more I would add is to think about more local or community newspapers. They ofter have web editions as well. They are seeking content and most interested in filling the paper for each edition.


  37. Some good points, Catarina.

    I've long believed that PR is the least understood part of marketing: too often, people think it is a question of press releases about new products.


    PR is about managing everything to do with your organization's image – and no press release should ever go out without an opinion. Simply announcing version 2.132 of a product is guaranteed to get you ignored.

    Use the media (in all its guises) to establish yourself/company as an expert in your field and you will get all the coverage you can handle.

    1. Glad we agree Guy.

      Did you develop relationships with editors, journalists and so forth to make your strategy work? How did you go about establishing your company as an expert in its fiels? How much coverage did you get as a result?

      1. Yes – spent a good deal of time developing relationships with the media (press, radio and even TV). It really established the company as a thought-leader and market-leader in technology, although we were a dibutor (normally the most invisible part of the channel).

        We ensured all articles that went out had opinions and never just (re)produced standard product releases, were always available for interviews and/or quick questions from the media, and looked for opportunities to contribut to features, etc.

        We got enormous coverage which was incredibly valuable as, like most distributors, our marketing budget was tiny and this got our name across and boosted our image continuously in an extremely cost-effective way. We were in every edition of every IT publication in our market, as well as having fairly regular slots on radio and even a TV appearance or two.

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