Entrepreneurs are the new rock stars; the founders of startups are becoming just about as visible as the companies they create. In a culture that is obsessed with social media, reality TV, and crowdfunding, it makes sense that the public wants to connect with new brands on a personal level. And you don't get much more personal than knowing the CEO!
Creating a presence for yourself as a leader in your industry not only allows you to connect with your audience, it seriously helps when you're trying to get funding, forge new partnerships, promote new products, land a book deal....the list goes on. Building your name alongside your company is something you should be doing from day one. However, sometimes when you're just starting out, hiring a PR firm is not always in the budget. Here are some easy ways to get your name out there without breaking the bank:
1. Become an Influencer
Find out what websites your target audience is reading and become an expert contributor on those sites. This is something that takes time, but it's definitely worth it. It allows you to show your expertise and build trust with your audience.
You'll want to read other articles published on those sites and write your own article in a similar style. For example, if your target audience reads CNN Money, don't write your article in the style of BuzzFeed. Also, titles are very important. Remember, editors are getting hundreds of email pitches a week--make sure your email gets read based on how compelling the title is.
Once your article is written, find out how to submit to the editor and send your article in an email with a nice note. You will likely have to start off with lower traffic sites and build up, but again--stick with it.
2. Submit Yourself as an Expert Source
A great way to position yourself as a leader in your industry is to be quoted as an expert in the media.
If you haven't signed up on HelpaReporterOut.com, you should. Reporters and journalists submit queries on this site for experts they need for specific stories. You will receive three emails per day with lists of what reporters are currently looking for, broken down into category. It literally takes a couple minutes to scan through and see if there's anything on there you're right for. If there is, you send the reporter an email answering their question.
Again, if you don't hit gold the first time you respond, keep going. It's a numbers game. But you can increase your chances by answering the reporters EXACT question. Typically, they are already working on a story and need to easily fit the expert into it. It does not usually help to email saying "I know you're asking for X, but what's more interesting is Y..." (because it's more along the lines of what you do). Chances are, the reporter doesn't want to change their whole story to fit that response and will go with another one that's more on topic. Once you get the hang of responding to these every day, you'll likely see some good success and it will become fun.
3. Become Friends with Social Media
If you hate social media, I'm sorry. But this advice is for your own good.
Social media is becoming a metric for gauging future success of a product. Hollywood producers look at social media when considering whom to cast in their films--it is also one of the key elements publishers use when deciding to give you a book deal. It's not enough to just have a great product--they want to ensure their investment by knowing they have a built-in audience.
It's time-consuming, so set a goal for working on your social media 15 minutes a day. Take that time to do one post, comment on other posts, and add friends. Sponsored Facebook ads are a great way to build your following, but you need to continue to post regularly and keep up with the conversations to maintain engagement. As your business grows, you can have someone take this over.
Again folks, don't get discouraged. These things take time and a little elbow grease, so keep going and you'll build momentum. Once you get going, it will likely help you exponentially.