By Jenny Finke

public relations for businessYou’re a bootstrapping entrepreneur, mompreneur, a small business owner…and you are just starting out. There are so many things to do – PR being one of them- but where do you start? You want to get your foot in the door at target publications and introduce yourself to key reporters, but you have a tight budget.… after all, you’re a start-up!

To assist you on this journey, here are four key first steps in DIY PR:

Basic learning . Start by making a reading list of some good books about PR. Read about what others have done, listen to their tips and advice, and most importantly learn from their successes and failures. With a basic PR understanding you can then create your own innovative and unique PR ideas. In addition to books, read various PR blogs, and find a few quality PR how-to webinars. This step is all about learning from the experts. Why not learn from the people who have been there/done that?

Get a toolkit in order. Your toolkit should include bios, headshots, product pictures, a company fact sheet and any other pertinent information about you and/or your business. Have these materials on hand, and if your website is up and running (I hope it is!), post these documents online in an “About Us” or “Press” section of the site. After this is set, start with some “reactive” pitching by using (HARO) or editorial calendars to learn what reporters are writing about now. HARO sends you approximately three emails/day full of reporters looking for sources for their articles. You can view and respond to relevant queries. For editorial calendars, typically you’ll find those on a publication’s websites in the online advertising or media kits. See what these publications are planning to write about in upcoming issues and send a pitch with your angle and why you’d be a good source for that article.

Note: A great resource for quality product pictures at a low cost is

Create your targeted media list. A power-packed media list is a must. This can be done in a few ways.

1. If you are lucky enough to have a subscription to a media contact database such as Cision or Vocus, which can cost you several thousands of dollars annually – then it’s easy to build lists. However, if you are just starting out, my guess is this won’t be in your initial budget. Do not fret as there are other, less expensive options.

2. Do the research and create your own media list. Decide on your top 20 outlets – a combination of magazines, TV, newspapers and blogs – whatever your perfect potion may be. Go on their websites, find out who is covering what, read their stories and then add them to your media list.

3. Use a service such as This company offers a variety of affordable media lists available for download, or you can hire them to create a custom list for you.

Develop pitch letter and begin pitching. A rock star pitch letter will get your note read by reporters and bloggers alike. Write a pitch that speaks to the topics the source writes about. Stay on topic and never waste a reporter’s time with a pitch that is completely out in left field. Remember, never pitch yourself or your company to a reporter unless you’ve done your research first. Google them, read their previous articles and generally get to know them before asking them to write about you. Also, don’t forget about bloggers. They can be powerful voices in your quest to get PR for your business. You must treat bloggers the same as reporters – after all, they can be just as influential as journalists.

Starting out in the PR world can be scary. We all were new at one time. Just remember that PR takes time and is something you earn. Stay focused and in the end you’ll be rewarded handsomely.

Jenny Finke is the U.S. founder of, a media list provider, and founder of Red Jeweled Media, a full-service PR agency specializing in working with small businesses and entrepreneurs. Please find her at and