Sometimes being a small business owner feels similar to being the kid outside the candy store with no money. For instance when it comes to public relations, you know you have a good story but you may not have the capital to get the word out. Larger companies have the funds to hire public relations firms and all the resources that come with them. But it’s a stretch for most growing companies to spend $10,000 a month to sign with a firm or even hire an inside public relations rep.
That does not mean you can’t tap some PR resources. Public relations firms use the promise of their press contacts to lure clients. While it is true most firms have established press contacts, they also rely on media databases such as Cision (formerly Bacon’s) and Vocus to find editors and journalists to introduce to their clients.
Globalization and new mediums, such as blogs and social networking sites, offer companies more options for press, but getting the attention of the editors is more complex.
The media databases track press contacts based on medium and topic. For instance, if you’ve launched a new product such as environmentally friendly laundry soap, you can use the database to identify which editors at major news outlets cover consumer products and cross-reference those with who covers “green” issues.
This is particularly valuable information for newspaper and broadcast contacts because unlike magazines, which have mastheads listing the name and sometimes the “beat” of each editor, there is very little in the way of editor contact information available for newspapers and broadcast editors.
Cision and Vocus both boast more than 800,000 media contacts worldwide. The lists are updated on a regular basis. Each offers a small business program that allows users to manage their public relations campaigns via an online platform. This service gives users access to media databases and organizational tools to create targeted media lists, access to editorial calendars, the ability to distribute press releases via e-mail, and, for an extra fee, the ability to monitor any press about their company or industry. Vocus also has a tool to drive traffic to companies’ Web sites.
Both services try to educate their customers for better media targeting. Stephen Debruyn, vice president of marketing for Cision, says the message is “proper targeting.” The company takes a proactive role in ensuring this by limiting how many press releases customers can send through its system to media targets. “We don’t want our customers spamming journalists with press releases,” he said.
The price point for access to the Cision and Vocus databases is not cheap but not cost-prohibitive either. Both have basic packages that cost $3,000 per year for one “seat,” which is paid upfront on an annual basis. It sounds steep but is easier to digest when you think of it as costing $250 per month (unfortunately neither company lets you pay on a monthly or quarterly basis).
If you’re serious about your PR outreach but balking at buying a subscription, it may be beneficial to compare the cost per hour for what it would take to begin to compile your own list of contacts.
If it is still too much, Vocus offers an alternative via its PRWeb product. Through it, users can put out press releases to targeted lists for as little as $80 per release. Your release will end up in the inboxes of editors and journalists who have expressed interest in pertinent topics, on Yahoo!, and in searches via Google and other search engines. However, users do not get the media contact information.