I’ve always stood by the claim that marketing and PR go hand in hand. So while digital media sums up marketing, the question becomes “How can digital media help me with my PR efforts?”

The trick is understanding PR. While a lot of PR is centered around business to business efforts, the platinum goal for any business is to get in the press. And the gatekeepers of any print or digital press publication are reporters. What you need to do is reach out to reporters.

The ‘old-school’ way of doing this was going and looking up all the local reporters in your community. If you were lucky, you were looking for just your community. But since most businesses transcend geographic locations, chances are you need a broader sweep of contacts. Many of us have made futile attempts to do just this, to get our own directory of regional and national contacts. The problem with that is that it takes a ridiculously long time and you’re left with no time to do anything else; but more importantly, contacts change, especially in a revolving door press circuit where seasoned reporters are increasingly being replaced like cogs in a wheel by younger (and cheaper) tech/blogger types.

So rather than trying to catch every fish in the sea, change your strategy so you cast a net that attracts the fish…more specifically, cast a type of net that attracts the type of fish you need. This is a little known trade secret that businesses just keep missing out on. You should be going to sites where you can share your story and submit them to reporters, who are desperate to come up with content in a content-starved industry.

Help a Reporter

The best site to cast your net is HARO, which stands for Help a Reporter. HARO knows that “everyone’s an expert at something” and with that in mind they’re open to experts (and the well-informed) to list themselves as sources. Haro has over a 100,000 sources that over 29,000 journalists/reports use for an average of 210 daily queries.

Now you may be an expert in sourcing the best deals at flea markets, but keep your business in mind here. Consider what business expertise you have, what industry you cater in, even successes you have had as a business owner, a business owning philanthropist, an economics degree holding small business owner – anything that can factor in your business somehow.

A plug about you or your business gives you boasting rights and is positive PR you can’t buy. A lot of top news agencies use HARO, including AP, Conde Nast (publisher of major magazines), data research companies, Turner, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, Reuters, Dow Jones, Gannet, Hearst and more.

While HARO is the trusted site, there’s no point in talking to a reporter only to come across as incompetent. You, your spokesperson (a.k.a. your marketing department manager) needs to brush up on their media savvy skills. Some great resources can be found at Community Media Workshop, such as media guides that help you learn how to get your story out, pitch story ideas and create press alerts. The site specifically caters to a Chicago demographic, so if you’re in that area you can use the full site to your advantage.

I mention the workshop because rather than just waiting for reporters to come to you, you should be going to them. The key is to create press releases that are newsworthy, touch on trends and offer business and industry forecasts. Businesses pay top PR people thousands a month in retainer services just for this. And now you can become your own media insider if you budget your time and hone your skills.