Did you know that there’s a small percentage of entrepreneurs, consultants, and marketers that are leveraging LinkedIn to connect with the media to get free PR?  Have you ever wondered the value of what being interviewed on a top podcast or how getting published on Inc.com could help build your brand and following?

If you’re a small businesses or startups, free PR can be exactly what you need to generate the necessary buzz to jump start your venture or add enough credibility to land your first big deal.

When I started my first business back in 1994, the primary way to get media exposure was through TV, print or radio but today there are a lot more options. In the past year, I have been featured on 20+ podcasts, invited to speak at live events, had an article published on HuffingtonPost.com and even asked to write my first article here on Influencive.  The article is titled, “5 LinkedIn Growth Hacks for Small Businesses and Startups” and much to my surprise was shared on social media over 1,100 times in less than a week.  All of which stemmed from my LinkedIn network. But how?

Here are 6 LinkedIn tips to help you get free PR

1. Define your target audience

I can’t stress enough the importance of taking 10 minutes to define exactly who in the media you want to connect with.  This is an area where 9 out of 10 LinkedIn users fail.  Here are a few things to consider; title, keywords, geography, company, groups they belong to, industries and last but not least the type of content that your target audience consumes regularly.

2. Used advanced search to find them

One of the biggest advantages to LinkedIn over most of the social networks is the ability to perform advanced searches.  A well-executed search can not only uncover diamonds in the rough that may have otherwise been missed but can save an enormous amount of time by filtering a basic search with 100,000 plus results, down to less than 100 highly targeted leads.  Based upon your search results, make a list of at least 20 but preferably 50+ media contacts, that fit your criteria from step 1 and add them to a spreadsheet.

3. Gather sales intelligence

Sales intelligence is the knowledge that you acquire about your prospect that shows your understanding of their business, brand or product, to engage them and differentiate yourself the crowd.  LinkedIn is great for this but make sure to research their primary source of media (TV, print, podcasting, blog, etc.) as well as their blog and social channels like FB, Twitter, Periscope, Pinterest, etc.

4. Connect but don’t pitch

So now it’s time to connect but remember not to make this a pitch fest. Imagine you were a writer or media professional and you have people asking you everyday to highlight their product or company.  It would get old right?  So here is the best way I have found to approach a media professional.  

During step 3 you gathered sales intelligence, and if you were smart, you read, listened to or somehow consumed some content that they published.  So here is how I connected with one the founders of Influencive.com, Brian D. Evans, which ultimately led to me publishing this article.

“Hi Brian, I read your article on “The Lewis Howes Effect” on Inc.com and wanted to let you know I agree 100% when you said, “Don’t worry about appealing to everyone.”  Thanks for yet another great article.  I thought it would be interesting to connect.”

5. Don’t forget to leverage your existing network

Did you know that 41% of LinkedIn users have between 301-999 LinkedIn connections?  So it’s important that you don’t forget your existing network when trying to connect with the media.  Focus on finding 1st level LinkedIn connections that are already in the media or have gotten the type of PR exposure you are looking for and share your pitch and ask for an intro.  If there is a way to cross promote what they are doing into your story, that can also help to grease the wheels to a successful intro.

6. Convert the conversation offline

While it’s an important first step to connecting digitally, it’s equally as important to develop an offline relationship. This is one of the key differences between the average LinkedIn user and the top 1% that regularly leverage their LinkedIn network to grow their business.  I call it my “Give, Give, Give, Ask” strategy of never asking for anything until you’ve provided value to other party first.  If there is a secret to LinkedIn marketing and social selling, this is definitely in the running.  

Last but not least, once you do convert the conversation offline don’t focus on being interesting, focus more on be interested, and you will be shocked how quickly you can build rapport.

Today it’s much easier for small businesses and startups to get PR.  So I am challenging you to follow the simple steps I laid out in this article so you too can join the top 1% of LinkedIn users that are leveraging Free PR to tell their story, build their brand and grow their businesses.

Your story needs to be told, so share this article on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook and let’s connect. I write regularly for different publications so maybe I can be your 1st media connection?

To jump start your LinkedIn marketing get my free book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful LinkedIn Users.”Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Dennis Brown

Dennis Brown is a 6X Inc. 500/5000 honoree and serial entrepreneur who has built 3 multi-million dollar businesses in his 20+ year career. He’s the author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful LinkedIn Users” and is well known for his LinkedIn marketing and social selling expertise. Dennis is also a speaker, author and blogger that has been featured on Huffington Post & dozens of top business related podcasts.

Dennis now consults with entrepreneurs, consultants and sales leaders to help them generate more leads, more customers and more profits with his LinkedIn marketing system. Check out his blog at www.AskDennisBrown.com