Top 5 PR Tips that WORK (from one of journalism’s finest)

As entrepreneurs, everyone wants exposure for their business. Why? Because good exposure positively increases brand awareness. PR is a great way to do that “for free” so to speak – unlike traditional advertising which costs (print, digital, outdoor advertising on billboards, radio and TV commercials, etc.). Note: PR technically isn’t always “free” as many of you have discovered. If you end up engaging a PR agency to help you get exposure, that definitely costs a pretty penny. Not that it’s not worth it! But the issue is that most entrepreneurs don’t have the budget to hire a PR agency out of the gate. Not even two to three or even five years into the business. So how do we get exposure before that? As with everything entrepreneur-related, we have to learn how to do it ourselves.

We want everyone to know who we are and what we do. PR is a quick, fast way to get your name out there. No doubt about it. But how do we do it? Last month, we connected with one of Atlanta’s finest journalists – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Ernie Suggs – to help us understand the high level ins and outs of what to do and what not to do. The video is below, which was also reshared by Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s AJC Sepia (thanks guys!):

ABOUT OUR JOURNALISM EXPERT: Ernie Suggs is a North Central Carolina University (NCCU) and Harvard alum. He is the former Vice President of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), a huge Prince and New York Yankees fan and has 20 years in the journalism game. He also happens to be a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Reach him on Twitter at @ErnieSuggs.


  1. Know your goal: What are you trying to accomplish? What is your big news, what’s your story? Think about what section of a newspaper or publication it might fit in, what segment, what day/time slot on TV or radio. Then take some time to understand what kinds of stories make it into those segments.
  2. Go where your audience is: If your audience doesn’t read magazines, forget about it. What types of publications or media outlets cover your type of story? Don’t know where your audience is? Do a little research. Get a small focus group together and start asking them where they spend their time online, what they do on the weekends, after work, etc. It will help you understand what types of media they consume.
  3. Do your homework: Spend some time finding the specific journalists that are perfect for your goal. Find the ones that cover your type of story you’re trying to get out there. Then work on developing and building relationships with them. Even if you don’t have your story together yet, it’s as simple as picking up the phone and calling them, letting them know who you are and that they’ll be hearing from you. Consider reaching out to the editorial boards if that feels appropriate, etc. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re likely good at developing relationships anyway. Put those skills to use.
  4. Have a story: Your story needs to be relevant, timely and interesting. Don’t be afraid of touting yourself as an expert at something. If it’s truly something you do all day everyday, you likely are an expert at it! At least one of the best in your local area. Try “news-jacking” – taking advantage of what’s hot in the news at the moment and providing your own spin on it. Of course, it needs to make sense (duh), but consider things like that when trying to craft a story that deserves being told.
  5. Forget about your business or product: Remember that you’re here to help that medium’s readership / viewership, etc. You’re there to provide value – tell them something they didn’t know, assist them with a problem they have, provide more insight into something they’re very interested in, etc.

Hope you enjoyed those quick tips! Be sure to watch the video for all the fun details. Do you have any helpful PR tips to share? Feel free to add them below in the comments and see you next time!

Ernie & Andrea
Andrea D. Smith of The ADS Agency with Ernie Suggs of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ABOUT THE AJC: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) is the major daily newspaper in Atlanta. The AJC is a Cox Media Group company which, if you didn’t know, represents 20+ markets, covers 50 million Americans and 4 million readers. Headquartered in Dunwoody, Ga., Cox Media also includes WSB-TV, 6 radio stations in midtown. The AJC has roots back to 1883 when it was the Atlanta Journal. Today, it has 1.2 million weekly readers.

ABOUT AJC SEPIA: AJC Sepia provides sophisticated coverage of important issues in the black community. Our goal to create a Facebook space where readers can exchange ideas and offer intelligent, nuanced commentary on important issues. We hope to attract a robust and vibrant set of readers who will build the page into a thriving online community.

ABOUT THE ADS AGENCY: The ADS Agency uniquely offers a global perspective and experience with a local touch. Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., the firm specializes in marketing and branding consulting services tailored for the savvy entrepreneur and mid-size businesses. Founded by marketing and branding professional Andrea D. Smith, The ADS Agency brings you over 10 years of experience in the field and prides itself in never forgetting the human element in everything we do.