PR Leads Gets Small Entrepreneurs Interviews with Big Media

“Working with PR Leads is like having my own PR firm! It would cost me $10,000 a month to hire a PR firm to do what you do! For a one-man shop like mine, this is an amazing value. I know I will get a return on investment of at least 10 times what I paid!”

Direct-mail copywriting expert Kevin Donlin doesn’t do PR. “I don’t want to write press releases and I don’t want to call reporters.”

If that sums up your experience with the media, you’re not alone! But you can use another tactic to get high profile publicity that leads traffic to your website and makes you a celebrity in your marketplace.

First, let’s dispel the idea of the aloof reporter who doesn’t want to speak to you.

Reporters actually * do * want to talk to you–if you’re an expert in your field and you have something worthwhile to say. And that applies to small businesses and solo workers.

You see, reporters need to quote experts to give their stories credibility. They can’t quote themselves or their own opinions. Reporters need to talk you. The trouble is, they don’t know that you exist!

The traditional way of introducing experts to reporters has been to hire a public relations firm, which would call 100 reporters to find one person who was interested in talking with you. Obviously, this is a very expensive and time-consuming process.

But for several years, PR firms have used a secret weapon to introduce their clients to the media. It is called ProfNet. ProfNet, a division of industry giant PR Newswire, collects leads from reporters at the top publications every day. The leads explain the stories they’re writing and the kinds of experts they need to talk to–in such fields as health and wellness, financial planning, sales and team building. The service then distributes those leads to public relations officials, who read the queries and arrange for interviews with their clients. The New York Times, Fortune Small Business, Women’s Day, and CBS News are among many media channels that sometimes seek story sources through ProfNet.

Unfortunately for entrepreneurs, ProfNet is available for sale only to PR firms, corporations and universities at prices that begin at over $2,000 a year!

Fortunately, ProfNet has decided that it wants to offer this service to entrepreneurs, speakers, writers and other experts. So ProfNet has contracted with PR Leads to offer this service to small businesses. An annual subscription to PR Leads, which includes an unlimited number of targeted leads, costs only $99 a month.

When you sign up for your subscription, a PR Leads staff member will interview you to find your topics and keywords. Every day, the service will look through the hundred of leads to find the ones that you’d be interested in. When there is a match, PR Leads will send the queries to you by e-mail.

You’ll receive the reporters’ names, e-mail addresses, and full text of the lead so you’ll know how to contact them and what they are writing about.

Here’s an example of a lead:

I’m looking for sources who can discuss how small retail shops can create and manage their brands without big marketing budgets. Floral Management is an association magazine for retail florists. No phone calls, please. Need leads by August 20. REPORTER’S NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS.

Most reporters want to be contacted by e-mail, so if you’re afraid of cold calling, don’t worry. Also you don’t have to be Hemingway to write a good letter to reporters. Reporters merely want to see a short, two-paragraph note. The first paragraph briefly describes your area of expertise. The second paragraph provides your slant on their story. Then you close with your contact information. If the reporter is interested, he or she will contact you directly.

For example, your response to this lead could be:

I have 10 years of experience helping small business create branding and positioning statements.

One way floral shops could increase their branding without spending a lot of money is to donate flower arrangements at large, public events, so lots of people will see their works. Of course, they would display their store name alongside the flowers, and in program flyers.

I have other ideas that could help your readers. Please contact me at NAME, PHONE, EMAIL. Please keep my name in your files for future articles.

[Editor’s Note: After more than two decades of writing pitch letters and cover letters, I recommend avoiding paragraphs that start with “I.” In my own ProfNet responses, I often give two or three bullet points answering the reporter’s query, and of course I cite my books and other relevant credentials. Over 60% of my ProfNet responses result in contact from the reporter. Several examples of successful Profnet queries are included in my special report, “Best Hidden Resources to Promote Your Book” (scroll down to the “advanced offer”—this report is also available separately for $10).]

Your sig file contains more of your contact info, web site and positioning statement.

Although the PR Leads service only started in August 2001, clients already report incredible successes.

Izzy Gesell, a humorist, was quoted in USA Today. Entrepreneur Magazine interviewed Tom Mulholl of the Terra Cotta Inn in Palm Springs.

As for Kevin Donlin, he’s happy with PR Leads. “Forget about faxing 500 press releases and hoping for the phone to ring. That’s a huge waste of time and money. With PR Leads, the press calls me!” says Donlin, CEO of Guaranteed Marketing. “Working with PR Leads is like having my own PR firm! It would cost me $10,000 a month to hire a PR firm to do what you do! For a one-man shop like mine, this is an amazing value. I know I will get a return on investment of at least 10 times what I paid!”

If you’d like to sign up for PR Leads, or learn more, please click here.

Daniel Janal is founder and CEO of PR Leads, Subscribers to FrugalFun get a free report on “The Best Free PR Newsletters and E-zines” when they sign up for PR Leads.

Please click here to learn more about PR Leads, or to begin your subscription.