Ever sat in the doctor’s waiting room, flicked through a magazine, spotted a competitor quoted in a feature and thought, “I should have been interviewed for that, our business has a far superior product/customer service/etc.”?
If you feel like the best-kept secret in your industry, and you want to stop communicating one-to-some and start sending your message to thousands, it’s time you had a look at generating your own publicity.
Let me share a few best-kept secrets that only PR pros know:
1. Publicity isn’t rocket science, it just seems like it is
Put simply, publicity is the art of getting journalists to write or talk about your products, services and company – without paying them to do it. And the best way to achieve that is to, well, ask them. How you ask them can be an art in itself (more later) but really, that’s all you’re doing. Hardly rocket science.
2. The reporter often prefers to hears from you, the business owner, not a PR rep
Usually, whenever reporters have direct contact with the business owner – sans PR agency – they relish the opportunity to get the story directly from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Which is not to say a PR agency can’t be of great benefit to you with respect to guiding your message and maximising your opportunity to get in front of the journalist. But, if PR agency fees are beyond your reach, don’t let it stop you. Do it yourself.
One email or phone call with the right pitch to the right reporter can mean your product gets written about or you get interviewed. With publicity you are no longer communicating one to a few, but one to thousands, potentially millions. You also gain ‘expert’ status, with all the associated sales credibility.
3. When you’re pitching, tailor it to the outlet’s audience – not what you want to talk about
If you want to get your own publicity, you have to stop thinking like a business owner and start thinking like a reporter. Research the media outlet before you even make contact. The number one pet peeve of journalists is being contacted by people who have no idea what they cover. Remember, reporters don’t exist to write/talk about your business; their job is to report on something of interest to their readers. So make sure you know the readership, understand what you have that’s of story value, research the right contact, then pick up the phone or shoot them a succinct email.
Journalists don’t always have the capacity to find the info on their own. Deadlines and resources are often tight. You need to make your information and expertise as easy and accessible as possible for a journalist so they can find a way to cover your company. Remember it’s not an advert. Try and put what you do into a framework.
Here are a few examples of popular ‘media hooks’:-
- New Product / Service / Book – The media is always interested in something new. If you’re launching a new (unique) product or service, you already have a ready-made angle.
- Tie-in With Current Trend – Keep abreast of trends by following stories in the media and see how you can tie-in. After September’s economic upheaval last year, the media ran plenty of stories on saving money and budgeting.
- Holiday – for example, an up market restaurant donating Christmas dinner to needy families.
- Useful Advice – the public is always on the look out for information to make their lives easier or better. e.g.: health tips, financial planning.
Philippa Lowe is a publicity mentor, award-winning journalist, PR agency CIO and author of the DIY PR and Publicity Kit.