Have you ever wondered how a business similar to your own manages to get onto TV and the radio?
Or maybe you’ve sat down with your favourite magazine, hoping to stop and switch off for a moment, until you see a story on your competitor staring right back at you.
How are they doing this?
The answer is they have probably added PR to their marketing arsenal. And, trust us when we say PR is one of the most powerful ways of getting noticed.
When your business appears in the media, it’s like someone putting a huge spotlight on your business. Not only does it make you visible, but it also adds a level of credibility that advertising just can’t. You can’t create an ad or run some Facebook posts telling everyone how brilliant you are; well you can, but people will see straight through it! However a journalist can sing your praises to their ready made audience of your potential customers and that makes it believable.
PR could be a story about your business, it could be your product or service reviewed by a journalist or it could be an interview with you on a subject you know a lot about. It could even be a thought leader and advice piece you write simply to help others. All these tactics are ways of getting you exposure on TV, radio, newspapers, blogs and magazines.
So let’s say you’re keen to give PR a go, but where do you start?
Well the best place is by telling your business story. But don’t confuse that with a profile of your company; that’s not a complete story to most journalists. Also sadly no one really cares about the details of your product or service even if you’ve just launched. You need to go way deeper.
At I Do My Own PR, we like to break down building a story for the media in a way that makes it a little easier to get your head around. We look at it like baking a cake.
To bake a cake, you need the right mix of ingredients to create something that will taste good. Flour on its own isn’t a cake nor are eggs, butter or sugar, but put them all together with some know-how and you have a cake.
The same goes for creating a story that will whet the media’s appetite. You want them to get hungry when they read about your product or service offering, so that they want to talk about it.
Your basic product message on its own isn’t a story; add in some background on the problem your product solves and why people need it, perhaps even a case study of someone using it to improve their life, some research and data that proves there’s a need for it plus a spokesperson and it’s starting to look quite tasty to a journalist, and more like a story they would run.
So, the question is, how do you go about building a strong story?
Start with a base:
Your base story is the essence of your product or service, coupled with the problem that it solves.
The base is the reason you launched in the first place. It’s what gets you out of bed every day. Make sure you share the interesting parts, like your backstory and the bumps you hit along the way to being a business owner. These sorts of stories can make for talking points and immediately make your story more appealing.
It’s great to have the base, but now it’s time to throw something weighty into the mixing bowl. Research and statistics are the perfect ingredients to bolster your story. Also providing this sort of information makes the journalist’s life a whole lot easier, as it allows them to craft an article rooted in actual fact rather than just opinion.
There are two ways to gather data. The first is to find an existing, credible study that backs up the reason for your product launch. If you are going to reference statistics and data from existing reports or studies, make sure you credit the source.
The second method is to do your own research and release the findings. Done correctly, with a substantial survey audience (at least 200 people, but the more the merrier), generating your own research data can add to your credibility, so it’s worth considering.
Really ramp up the credibility:
Credibility is one of the most important elements of getting your story in the media and the best way to build it is to have an expert (not affiliated with the brand) talk about it. An expert opinion that is not your own is gold.
An expert provides an additional level of trustworthiness and helps to make the story more rounded, plus it saves the journalist some precious time, where they would otherwise have to source an expert of their own.
Now make it real:
Who is your product or service actually helping and what problem does it solve for them?
Put a spotlight on someone who has experienced the problem you are solving. Like the expert, this person (let’s call them a case study) should be an independent person who can share their real-life experience with the problem and explain how your product or service will make their life better, easier, happier or more streamlined.
This part is vital as it helps people to understand how the story relates to them and it creates empathy with your brand.
The next ingredient to add in to baking your story is you.
Okay, so it doesn’t have to be you, but it is important to put forward a credible spokesperson to speak on behalf of your company. This person will be able to explain what you do and to help tell the company story. They will know the company inside and out.
The most credible company spokespeople are those in the know. Think the CEO, founder or product developer. They should be extremely savvy about your company offering and the industry as a whole. You’ll need to craft a great quote for your media release as the media will often lift this quote and run with it. That means you need to get your messaging right as well as say something of value. This is one of the parts we love helping people with the most. Nail this and you’ve pretty much nailed your elevator pitch.
If you haven’t planned the image that goes with your story well, you could be left with the shock of seeing something terrible, or worse yet, the completely wrong image.
For print and online media, think about the picture you want to provide to accompany your story. It may sound obvious, but make sure it reflects your brand, it’s up to date and it’s the right product.
For TV, you need to think about whom they can film and where they can film. Do the hard work for them and it’s another tick on your checklist of getting your story covered.
Follow these steps and next time, instead of opening a magazine and seeing your competition, you might just open it up and see yourself.
You’ll even be able to send a copy to your mum.
In the next part of this story, we’ll take you through how to go about approaching the media.
Jocelyne Simpson is the co-founder of I Do My Own PR, an online tool that launches startups and helps to keep small businesses in the media. You follow their simple process and get 1:1 access to an expert. They’ll tell you what to say, check everything and give you the right media contacts. Over 15 million people have seen a business that’s used their kits. Users have appeared on everything from The Project to The SMH and The Age to Mamamia to Broadsheet to the BBC.
Jocelyne has 20 years PR experience advising and running PR accounts for some of the world’s most loved brands like Coca-Cola, American Express, LEGO as well as countless startups and small businesses. Connect with her here.