Every company has a story to tell, and you don’t have to fork out to get it heard. With a little know-how, any business can hit headlines – we sat down with PR Shed to find out how to get started with a DIY public relations strategy.

Public relations presents an untapped opportunity for businesses to get their brand featured in the news. While doing your own PR might seem like a daunting task, it is often a far better use of resources than advertising. By earning a story in the news, rather than paying for it, you build a sense of credibility, authority and trust for your business that money can’t buy.

Best of all, you don’t need to pay an expensive agency to get your story out there. As leading public relations expert Celia Harding explains, PR is not rocket science. Businesses want to tell their stories and journalists want to write about them – but they don’t know how to find one another. Learn some tricks of the trade and you can fasttrack your brand to stardom in no time.

We caught up with Celia to find out her top tips for a DIY PR strategy that will drive success for your business.

1. Plan for the year ahead

Every great PR strategy starts with a good plan. The media is all about timeliness, so prepare well for the year and you’ll be best placed to hit some headlines.

“Plot out relevant events, dates and calendar hooks which present opportunities for you to talk about your business in the media,” says Celia Harding, Director at PR Shed, the Sydney-based PR advisory firm that empowers people to do their own PR, affordably. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail in the fast-moving world of media.”

Think about holidays, seasonal occasions and industry-specific events, and start considering ways these could apply to your business. Keep your finger on the pulse as you go too – jumping on a national news event or viral trend can also be a highly effective way to get your story heard.

2. Nail the story angle

“The media isn’t going to write about you simply because you think you deserve it,” says Celia. “You need to offer ‘new news’ – think a product launch, new research findings, an exciting event or recent funding.”

If you don’t have something new to shape your angle, try and piggyback something the media is guaranteed to be talking about, continues Celia. Can you apply your story to something timely, like the end of the financial year, Melbourne Cup or Fashion Week? Think of legitimate ways you can become part of the conversation.

3. Offer value no one else can

You already provide value for your customers, but how can that translate as value for influencers, journalists and the media? Journalists are busy people and they are under pressure to source the best news, so give them a reason to put your story ahead of others.

“Offer them something interesting, newsworthy and relevant to their audience,” says Celia. “Throw them a bone with exclusivity or a first look at something new. You could invite a journalist along to your event or give them exclusive access to a product before it launches.”

4. Perfect the pitch

Once you’ve decided your angle, it all comes down to how you pitch it to journalists. You need to make sure your news lands in the right inbox and is compelling enough for the recipient to pursue the story.

“Cover the what, where, when and how, as well as why it’s relevant to the journalist and their audience,” says Celia. “Use an enticing subject line and keep the email short and snappy. A picture tells a thousand words so include good quality photos and video content to illustrate the story.”

5. Be helpful and gracious

The media is an incredibly fast-paced world. Journalists are working to tight deadlines and they need your help to get a story out. Make their life easier and they will remember it – it could come back around when they need statistics or opinion relating to your industry.

“They are doing you a favour by covering your brand for free – a news story isn’t an ad you have paid for. Get back to them promptly, don’t be demanding and a ‘thank you’ always goes a long way.”

Celia Harding is the Director of PR Shed, the Sydney-based PR advisory that helps people do their own PR, affordably. From toolkits to media lists, press releases, copywriting and more, the PR Shed team helps you get the media coverage you deserve. This May, you have the chance to win a personal PR consultation with PR Shed as a prize in our Kickstart Your Campaign competition. Simply book a workspace tour before Monday 13th May to go in the draw – find out more about the prizes and details here.