In the world of marketing there are three types of media: Owned, Paid, and Earned. Owned media consists of branded content created by your company, about your company (articles, graphics, posts, etc.). Paid media is advertising you pay for to gain reach and recognition (Facebook ads, print ads, Google Ads, commercials, etc.). Earned media is publicity your company gains whether it be through an online article written about you, a social media post promoting you, a news story, or other publicity your company gains.
Owned media takes time and assets to create. Paid media takes money. Earned media (aka PR) takes a little creativity and some outreach. All three of these are important pieces to a solid communications plan, however lots of business owners fail to even attempt to gain earned media because they don’t know where to begin. There’s a reason we have public media specialists and an entire field dedicated to the art. While there is an art to gaining PR, you don’t have to have a PR degree to get a little press for your business. Here are some tips that will help you seek and seize PR for your tax firm.
Help a Reporter
Here’s one easy way to get it – especially during tax season where every journalist is looking for an expert to help them with a tax related story. Help A Reporter Out (aka HARO) is an email digest full of journalists looking for comments or expert advice on the topic they’re researching and writing about. It’s free to sign-up and is easy to scan for topics that relate to your business. When you find one, just send an email to the address in the description and boom – you’ve pitched a reporter.
- Respond quickly. These opportunities go fast. Don’t wait to scan the email, do it as soon as it comes.
- Be thoughtful and concise in your response. You’re not the only one who wants to be in the story. Give them exactly what they’re looking for and make your response easy to read with bullet points.
- Include background information (aka brag about yourself a little). It matters that you’ve been in the business for years or are an EA. If you have credentials, talk about them.
- Include links to your social media profiles.
- Include a quote.
Do Your Research
You can’t earn PR if you don’t have any contacts. Create a spreadsheet and get to work finding emails. Start by listing all of your local media outlets – TV, online, and print. Next, research the journalists who work there. You’ll want to get the email address and Twitter handles of the editor, assignment desk, and journalists whose beats are business, finance, or something similar.
Next, look to regional business media. Is there a Biz journal or something similar in the area? You could also do some research on bloggers who cover business, tax, or finance.
Reach Out/Build Relationships
Once you have even the smallest list of contacts it’s time to make the pitch. PR is more about building relationships than it is about talking someone into promoting your business. You need to give them what they need: a good story and/or valuable insight. There are a ton of changes that have been made to the tax code. Do your research to see what news sites are buzzing about and find a good angle. Or, just reach out, introduce yourself, offer your expertise and give some bullet points on what taxpayers should know this season. The point is to make contact so you can start building a relationship so that they come to you year after year.
You may not get a response from everyone, but don’t let that get you down. Reporters are busy. They may be working on something and will get back to you when they’re onto the next topic. Make sure you follow up. They get hundreds of article pitches and like to be reminded. Don’t be a pest. Wait a couple of weeks and reach back out just to check in. If they don’t respond, let it go.
Host an Event
Another great way to earn PR is to hold a community event or partner with a local nonprofit. Events are a great way to get people through your door, and a reason to write a press release to alert the media. It could be an information session for taxpayer or a collection drive for a local nonprofit. One thing to keep in mind: TV reporters LOVE a good visual.
Donate Your Services
Not everyone can afford tax preparation – and some people desperately need the help. Each year, our sister company Peoples Tax offers free tax services to families of local non-profit Connor’s Heroes. Connor’s Heroes is a support organization for families of children with cancer. It’s a nice thing to do, and it makes a great story.
Don’t Forget Blogs
Guest blogging is another form of earned media that can help your SEO. Basically, when your website is linked to from what Google sees are “high authority sites,” then Google ranks your site higher. Do your research on top blogs and make some pitches. They don’t have to be business or tax related – everyone has to pay taxes so your expertise is technically relevant to everyone.
Tips for pitching blogs
- Do your research on topics normally covered by the blog to see where you can add your expertise. It might not be a good fit to pitch a beauty blog on taxes – unless you can find a creative twist.
- Make sure you understand their audience. Are you talking to millennials, parents, or tech nerds? Do the work to pitch a topic that will interest them specifically.
- Drop the jargon. Write as plainly as possible so readers understand what you’re saying.
Earned media can be tricky but practice makes perfect! With these tips, you’re bound to land at least one article.