Wondering what a publicist can do for you? The power of publicity is amazing. Nowhere else can you get such massive visibility for your business without paying for advertising. Where else can you get thousands, even millions of people learning about what you do, for free? One media appearance can completely transform a business. It gives you instant credibility and authority within your industry as well.
The problem most small business owners face is that they just don’t have the budget for a PR firm. A good firm will run between $5,000-$10,000/month for a three to six-month minimum with no guarantees of placement. That’s just not doable for most solopreneurs or small businesses. The great news is that you can learn what a publicist does, become your own publicity specialist, and you can do it yourself. Also, once you understand how it works, as long as you understand and put together the pitching strategy, you can even hire an assistant to do this for you. So let’s get started with the basics with Public Relations 101.
Public Relations 101
The very first thing to consider is, do you check out? Do you appear to be credible online? Before you work with someone, what do you do? It’s very likely that you Google that person or company. The same is true for the media. They are going to check you out before they use you as an expert in their story. And, what happens when they Google you? Do you check out as the person who pitched the story to them and will make the media outlet look good by putting forth a great guest?
Here are a few tips to make sure you check out:
1) Do you have a website that instantly shows what you do? Remember we have seconds to grab attention so make sure it’s clear.
2) Do you have at least one social media platform that you are active on?
3) Are you using the same colors and fonts on your website and on your social media header(s) so it’s consistent and people know across all platforms it’s you?
3) Do you regularly provide valuable content related to your industry?
4) Have you guest blogged or written for a high-ranking site? This is important because it will show up early in a Google search and provide you instant credibility.
5) Have you been featured in the media. Media begets media so it’s almost as if you’ve been pre-vetted if you’ve already appeared in the media.
6) If yes, do you have a press page and/or links on your website?
7) Do you regularly post video content (this is even more important if pitching television)?
8) Is your LinkedIn profile optimized and up to date?
By having these in place, you position yourself as an expert the media can easily use.
Another basic component of pitching is having a pitching calendar in place. I recommend pitching the same journalists every single month, so you stay front of mind with them. They likely won’t cover you every month but if another story idea lands on their desk that you could be the perfect expert for, they will reach out to you because they are thinking of you since you’ve been sending them consistent, good story ideas. See below on putting together your publicity plan.
Press Release Distribution
Once upon a time, using a press release distribution service was the only way to get your story seen. Today, with the internet and social media success comes from building relationships with the media. The press release is not as effective as it once was. How do you build relationships? It starts with consistently pitching good story ideas where you can be the expert but also sending in stories about other people in your industry, not related to you. This keeps you front of mind, and also builds a relationship with the journalist showing you are a valuable asset.
Providing value to a journalist is the best way to build relationships and that is what PR professionals do to be successful and what you can do too. You don’t have to be a PR professional to have a relationship with a journalist.
The last part of Public Relations 101 is the pitch. Make sure your pitch is personalized to that journalist, “Dear [first name].” Keep your pitch short and sweet and easy to read. Use a statistic or trend if relevant. Sign the email and provide your cell phone number so they can easily reach you. If a photograph is applicable, include that. Remember television is visual so it’s always great to include that. Below your signature line, include a short bio of why you have expertise on this subject matter.
After two to three days follow up with a phone call referencing your email. If leaving a voicemail, let them know that you will re-send the email so it’s fresh in their inbox. In the email share that you just left them a message.
It’s very important that you pitch consistently to stay front of mind with a journalist. Pitch different stories every month. Your story idea might be great, but it might not fit into the content they are currently covering. Most journalists keep a file of good story ideas so you might hear back in a month, even a year, but feel confident that if it’s good and they can use it, they will reach out to you at some point.
Learning basic PR skills is not difficult and you can do this yourself and be your own publicist. The basics have been covered here in Public Relations 101 and next is developing the deeper meaning of what you do and why, and learning how to tell your story effectively.
Storytelling is the key to PR. In business today it’s vital that you share your story. This is important both for landing in the media but also for connecting with clients and customers. People want to know who they are working with. They want to understand who that person is and why the person does what they do. They are looking for things they have in common with you. Sharing your story allows people to relate with you.
It’s also something the media can use in their story – sharing your story. It gives them more background and makes their segment, interview, or story have a deeper meaning and connection with their audience. Everyone is looking to connect with people so share your story.
Why did you start in this industry? What gets you up every morning to work with your clients or customers? What do you do differently that makes you special? And don’t forget to share your personal passion(s) of what you love and what matters to you. This allows you to connect more personally with people.
Spend a few minutes to dig deep and uncover the stories. Write your “wow” bio. Layout what makes you unique, special, and qualified to be the perfect media expert? This will also help you uncover your story and give you something great to share with the media.
Once you have these basics in place, you’re ready to start formulating your publicity plan.
The Get PR Famous Formula is a systematized way to pitch the media that works consistently and allows people continued success when pitching the media. It’s a simple 3-step process that when implemented will help you get the “yes” from the media.
You can use this system to attract both local and national media. Why do you need both? Getting local media coverage makes you a star in your community. Getting national media coverage gives you tremendous credibility with potential clients and customers.
Step 1 – Be Newsworthy
Being newsworthy is as simple as outside-of-the-box thinking. Always think value to an audience when considering what is newsworthy. Would you want to read, hear, or watch this story? Would the audience of that particular media outlet be interested in the story? It’s very important to understand the demographic of the outlet’s audience before you pitch so it’s easier to get the “yes.” The story needs to appeal to who is watching, reading, or listening otherwise it will fall on deaf ears and that isn’t good for the journalist, producer, or editor.
Here are some tips to create newsworthy story ideas:
1) Take a national trend or study and show how it relates to your industry locally.
2) Niche what you do to a specific topic and pitch your expertise around that.
3) Sign up for Help a Reporter Out/HARO. This is a free media query service where media outlets are looking for sources and quotes for national magazine articles, television shows, newspapers, and blogs.
Get your free guide for successfully responding to HARO at, www.FreeGiftFromChristina.com.
One of the easiest ways to get media exposure for your business is newsjacking. This is taking what is already in the news and bringing it home or establishing yourself as the expert on that particular topic. A media cycle starts with the breaking news. After that, the media is looking to add to the story. What is your expertise on the matter? What is your unique “spin” on the topic? And, what information can you provide to keep the story going and position you as the expert?
Jonelle Anamalechi is a pediatric dentist. When kids were going back to school and masks were being mandated due to Covid, she pitched a news story highlighting that requirement and discussing “mask mouth” and what kids wearing masks at school could do during the day to prevent cavities that would result from wearing masks all day. She newsjacked the story of masks in schools and provided an add-on story to this trending topic about kids and increased cavities related to wearing masks.
There are many sources providing studies, statistics, and information related to your industry. Pay attention to those resources. This allows you to ride the coattails of a reputable organization and base your media story idea on their research and findings.
Don’t Forget the Trends
Another thing to look at is what is happening in the news that is trending. Look at trends.google.com and Twitter trends to see what people are talking about. It doesn’t matter if it’s not happening right in your backyard. You can always find a way to relate it back to something relevant in your community. This is the outside-of-the-box thinking I mentioned earlier. What are people talking about and how can you insert yourself into the conversation?
Here is a great interview with David Meerman Scott who coined the phrase, newsjacking. Learn directly from the master of newsjacking.
Another thing to look at is The Four Seasons of Publicity. It’s all about the calendar and paying attention to what the media will want to cover during a particular time of year.
Season One: January – March
This is when the media is looking ahead. This is a great time to make predictions about your industry for the year. It’s also a great time be provocative, even controversial, about your industry. If you think something is likely to happen that no one is seeing yet, now is the time to talk about it. You’ll look like a hero at the end of the year. Is there a new President being inaugurated? Will the new administration be good or bad for your industry? January is a time for resolutions, think weight loss/fitness and organization stories.
January – Trends, Predictions, Weight Loss, Organization, Resolutions, Superbowl, Inauguration
February – Valentine’s Day, President’s Day
March – St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness, The Academy Awards®, Spring Break Trips, Mardi Gras, National Nutrition Month, Easter, Passover
Season Two: April – June
There are no major holidays or big events this time of year so it’s a good time for general, evergreen stories. Light or fun stories related to spring are appealing to the media now. Outdoor gardening, cooking, entertaining topics are good this time of year as are ideas related to Mother’s and Father’s Day and graduation.
April – Spring Gardening, Taxes, Daylight Savings
May – Cinco de Mayo, Kentucky Derby, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Prom
June – Graduation, Father’s Day, End of School, Summer Vacation, Baseball Opening Day
Season Three: July – September
This time of year is the easiest to land publicity, especially in August. Many people are on vacation. Marketing budgets are being reserved for holiday and 4th quarter. Reporters are looking for creative stories during this time. This is your opportunity to stand out before reporters get inundated in September with back-to-school. Build your relationships and pitch wisely during these months.
July – 4th of July, Summer Gadgets and Toys, Unique Family Vacations, New Laws effective July 1
August – Back-to-School
September – Labor Day
Season Four: October – December
This is the busiest time of the media calendar, and also the most competitive. Business media is looking for wrap-ups. What happened in your industry throughout the year? Business editors are taking stock of the market and the economy and how the year fared. If you aren’t a business-related industry, think December holiday season pitches. Anything from travel to cooking to gifting is good but remember this time of the year is tough to get coverage so you need to make sure you’re pitches stand out.
Did the predictions you made in Season One happen? If so, this is your time to shine.
October – Fall, Halloween, Columbus Day, World Series
November – Elections, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, Gratitude
December – End of Year Wrap Up, Best Ofs, Hard News, Holiday
Plan your media calendar accordingly using both evergreen and seasonal topics as well as fun, “non-traditional” holidays. Also, keep an eye on what stories you can “newsjack.” These are all great ways to be newsworthy, which is Step 1 in the Get PR Famous Formula.
Step 2 – Create Great Hooks
Step 2 of the formula is creating great hooks which essentially is your subject line. It’s how you get the journalist to read your email pitch. A hook is as simple as what you see on a magazine cover. People are paid a lot of money to get you to make a $7.00 impulse purchase in the grocery store check-out line based on the “hooks” you see on the magazine cover.
To see some great examples, Google, “AARP magazine covers” and see what they have on the cover. Do the same for any other publication you know your ideal client or customer is reading and see what they are using for hooks. Use a similar formula that they have and plug and play your newsworthy story idea into an existing hook and you’re one step closer to success!
Learning how to write great headlines (i.e. hooks) will help you stand out from the crowd. You don’t need to be a master copywriter; you just need to learn some tricks to help you stand out when you send in your pitches.
Here are some tips to help:
- Ask a question to engage your audience and get them thinking about something.
- Focus on benefits vs. features. Benefits strike an emotional chord.
- People make decisions based on emotion so aim for a feeling
- Just the facts. Do you have a provocative fact to put in your headline?
- Inspire! A headline with a “you can do this” theme is attracting to a reader.
- Share mistakes, misconceptions, or myths. Negative headlines draw more attention.
- Use strong, powerful words that evoke emotion.
Here are some formulas to use:
- 7 Ways to [do something]
- [Question/problem] Here’s How to Fix It
- Warning: [address an industry problem]
- How to [ ] Without [objectionable action]
- The Ultimate Guide to [ ]
Take the time to plan out your headlines so your content and your media pitches get read.
Step 3 – Find the Right Journalist
Finding the right journalist is a vital step because you don’t want to send your story idea to the wrong editor. Don’t send a business story to the food editor thinking they are going to do you a favor by forwarding it on. They are busy professionals and it’s up to you to do your homework.
People are always amazed at how frequently I land on television and in magazines and newspapers. It’s all about finding the right person to pitch. I’m often asked how I do it. Here is my top-secret resource for finding journalists…. It’s Google. Google is a question search engine, “Who writes about [your topic or industry] for [name of publication].” Locally, you’ll usually get their name, email, and phone number all in one search. Nationally can sometimes take a page or two of digging but they will be there. A great resource to find email addresses is, https://hunter.io. Give Hunter a try if you can’t find them on Google.
By putting these three steps in place when pitching the media, you will be light years ahead of your competition and you will stand out to journalists. The more you pitch, the more you are seen as a valuable resource, and it won’t be long before the media is reaching out to you for quotes about your industry.
Getting on TV
Following the Get PR Famous Formula works for all genres of media: television, print, radio, and online mediums. Getting on television is slightly different in that television is visual so you want to make sure your pitch to the media reflects this. If you have a book or a product, you want the television producer to know this. If you have video or photos that can be used in your segment, share that as well.
Television producers need to “see” your segment and by providing these things ahead of time, in the pitch, will help you get the “yes” much faster.
You also want to make sure you do a great interview so you can get invited back as a guest expert. Watch how they perform interviews. Understand their flow and how they like to handle their segments. Also, make sure you look the part and know how to look great on camera. This is dressing in solid, bright colors and knowing how to do makeup for television (yes, men too). By doing a little bit of homework, you will crush the interview and be invited back regularly.
Public Relations Marketing
You followed the Get PR Famous Formula and you’ve landed in the media, now what? What do you do with it? It’s up to you to be your own megaphone of your media success. The media will put the story out and then it’s up to you to keep it alive. Here are some steps to take when you land in the media:
1) Screenshot it if it’s online,
2) Take a picture if it’s in print, and
3) Screen record a television interview.
Get it On LIne
Digital links have a tendency of breaking over time, especially television stations that produce such high volumes of video so it’s important for you to capture it as well. A screen record will show that station’s logo and lower third so even if it’s on your YouTube Channel, there will be no mistaking that it is a television interview.
Next is to let everyone know about your interview. If you have a mailing list, share it with them. If you have a list of potential clients or customers, send them a personalized email with the interview. You can use this to re-open a door with them by saying something like, “I thought you might be interested in this interview I just did with [outlet name] where I discussed [topic].”
Post it on all of the social media platforms that you are active on. If it’s very timely and relevant, pin it on Twitter and on your Facebook Business page. You can include it in your email signature, “See my latest interview on…” Finally, make sure it’s on your website with a link to the actual interview and post the logos everywhere too. Let the world know about it.
The nice thing about social media is you can repost the same thing when it’s relevant again. If something is timely in the news, share your interview where you discuss this topic.
Public Relations Skills
In wrapping up the things a publicist does for you that you can do for yourself, review this “Publicity” Acronym to help you have the best success when pitching the media yourself.
P – Prepare
When preparing to pitch the media, make sure you do your homework. You are an expert in your field. If you are discussing a niche or specific topic in the industry, gather statistics, see what studies have been done. Get what you need from credible sources to support your idea. Associations and trade and industry organizations regularly release data and perform studies. Find that information and use that to support your media pitch.
U – Understand
It is imperative that you understand who the audience is. What media outlet are you pitching and who is their audience? You always want your story idea to resonate with the demographic of the media outlet. Google is a great resource to research demographics and then craft your pitch accordingly.
B – Be Ready
Be ready when the media calls. When you pitch the media or provide a quote, always provide your cell phone number, and make sure you are prepared to answer it immediately. Many journalists are on tight deadlines and even if you pitch the idea, if you aren’t available when they need a comment or quote, they will likely go to another source.
L – Listen
When being interviewed, listen to what the journalist is asking. You want to make sure that you are providing a relevant answer and putting you in your best light. Always listen intently to the question(s) a journalist asks you so you can respond with the proper answer. If you don’t know the answer, it is completely fine to tell them you don’t know. That is much better than scrambling with something that isn’t correct and having that come back later as providing incorrect information.
I – Intentionality
Be intentional with your media pitches. You are providing value to an audience and sharing your expertise but make sure that you are intentional with what you provide so that you can benefit from the story and attract more clients or customers. Go back to #1, the letter P, prepare and make sure you know what message you want to get across and practice so that you can be intentional with your responses.
C – Care
Care about the audience. The best way to have a pitch accepted is to show that you care about their audience. You want to provide value and be meaningful and caring in the information you offer. This comes through in the story and benefits you as an expert. A journalist’s top job is to provide value to their audience. By showing you care and understand their job and giving them what their audience wants will help you get the “yes.”
I – Inquire
Gather information and inquire about your topic so you are completely knowledgeable on the subject matter. As mentioned above, gather studies and statistics from reliable sources to help with your credibility. You are basically riding the coattails of the organization who is providing the data.
T – Timely
News is timely. Make sure you are pitching timely stories to the media. Take into account seasonality, what’s happening in the world, and breaking news when putting together your media pitches. Remember “newsjacking” and use that tactic when pitching the media. It’s much easier when you are following the news cycle and helping them talk about a trending story idea.
Y – Yes!
Enjoy the “yes!” Taking the above into consideration when pitching the media will help you get the “yes” to your pitch much faster. Ultimately, that is the main goal.
There are many things a publicist can do for you but many of you will have to do it yourselves due to budgetary constraints. The great news is that you can be your own publicist! You just need to learn some simple steps as are outlined here.
Learn more at www.ChristinaDaves.com.