How To Hack Your PR Strategy For Massive Growth

It seems strange to talk about something as time-worn as a PR strategy in the age of digital marketing and growth hacking. After all, wasn’t the whole point of this “new media” thing to put the old gatekeepers to rest, letting businesses go directly to their audiences?

That’s true, but if you’re neglecting the power of the press, you could be missing out on one of your biggest growth hacking opportunities. One of the core tenets of growth hacking is to look for highly leveraged opportunities for promoting your business. If something gets the word out for what you offer, and you can get it for free or dirt cheap, that’s a growth hacking opportunity.

The fact is that both legacy media and the new digital media titans still control the lion’s share of the public’s attention. Getting featured in these outlets not only gets the word out about what you’re doing to a wider audience, it also lends an air of credibility to your own marketing messages.
Thriving in today’s media landscape is different than in the days of PR past. You need more hustle – and the growth hacker’s mindset – to really drive results from a PR campaign in 2015. Here are some tips for hacking your PR strategy and getting the attention you need to attract a larger following and paying customers:

Focus on content marketing
You’ve heard it a million times, but just in case you forgot: Content is king. As you probably know, content marketing isn’t just about directly pushing your products or company. It’s about sharing informative, interesting or even entertaining content with your audience.

According to an article in the New York Observer, New York Times bestselling author Ryan Holiday used content marketing to great effect when marketing his book “Growth Hacker Marketing.” Holiday wrote unique content for outlets like Fast Company, MarketWatch, Thought Catalog and others that drew the same types of audiences he wanted to reach with his book. Holiday’s content included everything from actionable sound bites right from the book to lessons and wisdom he gained from writing and marketing it.

You can do the same, regardless of your product. Find a few outlets that are related to what you do and pitch a few article ideas that may be valuable for them. Even if the website doesn’t get a lot of pageviews, if the audience is a perfect fit for you, you’ll know the visitors they do get will be primed to do some more digging to find out who you are.

Do a Reddit AMA
By now, most of us have heard of the power of Reddit. The website’s millions of users can vote on what content they want to see at the top of the page, while also being able to “downvote” content they don’t like. Being at the top of Reddit’s front page has it’s perks: Lots of visibility, traffic to your page and, best of all, the attention of the mainstream media. Today, it’s not at all uncommon to see things that blow up on Reddit end up making it to big name media properties.

While there’s always a chance something you do could get the attention of Reddit as a whole, you probably shouldn’t stake everything on it. Not to worry, though – Reddit is entirely composed of many different subreddits, which are niche communities with devoted participants who are always looking for relevant content to discuss.

If you have something totally new and unique, try looking for a subreddit that’s dedicated to a related field and hosting an “Ask me Anything,” or, an AMA. This is an open Q+A format that allows the community to ask you questions directly. People with lots of expertise or one-of-a-kind viewpoints are perfect for AMAs. It doesn’t matter if the subreddit is fairly small – if you’re talking to the right people, a good AMA can lead to the right kinds of attention (plus fodder for potential media pitches later).

PR may sound quaint in the digital age, but the truth is that it can still move the needle quite a bit in terms of sales and visibility.

Tell your story yourself or hire a firm that knows you inside and out
You might be tempted to hire a PR firm to handle all of your press stuff, but as Katelan Cunningham of ThinkApps wrote, it’s almost always better to take a DIY approach, especially if you’re starting out. The reason is simple: No one is more well-equipped to tell your story than you are.  That said, if you can afford the support in the early days, make sure to hire a firm that knows you inside and out – one that can tell your story almost as well as you can.

First Round interviewed Brooke Hammerling, founder of Brew Media Relations, who said that the first thing a company should be able to do is answer some basic questions: What are you? Why are you? Who are you? What problem are you solving and how are you solving it? Why should people care right now? By answering these, you should start to see a narrative taking shape.

Don’t just pitch media outlets about your product – place it within the context of a real person’s life.
She gave the example of one of her clients, GroupMe, a mobile messaging startup that was eventually bought by Skype. The company was in a crowded market, so Hammerling was hesitant to simply call it a texting or chat app. She decided to call it a “messaging service” and placed it into context by telling a story about how frustrating it is when you’re at a party or festival with a group and you can’t find an easy way to stay in touch with everyone.

What you can do today

It doesn’t take much to get started on hacking your PR strategy to include these strategies. Here’s what you can do right now:

  • Answer the questions that Hammerling asks her clients to start figuring out what your narrative should be.
  • Start scouting some Reddit communities that you could be a useful contributor to.
  • Come up with a few content ideas you could pitch to other news outlets.
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