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To Toot Your Own Horn…or Not: Should You Do Your Own PR?
Why You Should Have a Publicist:
Time: Your time is best spent focused on what you do well – your business or your personal growth as a speaker. Outsource the rest.
Credibility : It elevates your brand status when you have a publicist.
Buffer: Journalists prefer dealing with publicists (who are often former journalists) because they are trained to know what journalists want and need. Also, it’s more comfortable to deliver a critique to a publicist than it is directly to the “talent.”
Relationships: Publicists have relationships with editors, producers, reporters and bloggers that you may not have.
Expenses: Publicists pay for a lot of expensive subscriptions to do their jobs properly, e.g., media lists, trend reports and studies, LexisNexis, Radian6 and more.
Why You Shouldn’t Have a Publicist:
Money : The norm is $3k to $5k/month for a publicist and major brands spend $10k to $30k/month.
Passion : No one is more passionate about and knows your story better than you…unless you find the right publicist.
Public Relations is NOT Rocket Science : If you are a professional speaker, I have to believe you’re personable, professional and think quickly on your feet – all skill sets required of a publicist. You ca n learn it.
Let’s Assume You’re Doing Your Own PR. What Now?
This is the disclaimer section where we say “Kids, Don’t Try This at Home,” but if you really must, don’t go off half-baked.
#1. Set REALISTIC Expectations About the Outcome: What do you want to derive from PR.? What does PR success look like to you?
Are you trying to book speaking engagements?
Charge more money for your speaking engagements?
Sell more books? Sell more widgets? Raise brand awareness?
Become a household name?
Position yourself as the media’s go-to person for underwater basket weaving?
TRUE STORY: A book publicist I know scored 150 media interviews for his author client in top-tier TV and newspapers last year. It had zero affect on the author’s book sales.
#2. Do What the Pros Do. More on that in the next slide…
#1. Expert Source File Yourself. By posting your expertise on your niche subject matter, journalists can find YOU. Some, like NewsBasis.com, PitchEngine.com and Journalistics.com are free. You will also want a presence on Quora.com. Some, like ProfNet, are subscriber-based.
#2. Create Your 12-Month Media Plan .
Identify the top-tier publications relevant to your topic. Get their 2012 Editorial Calendars (normally found under the “Advertise with Us” link) and review which months they’re doing stories for which you can provide a quote or narrative, and then populate a 12-month spread sheet. Publicists normally use a service like MyEdCals.com, which shaves dozens of hours off of this process. MyEdCals is somewhere in the $800 to $1200/year range.
#3. Pitch Angles: Identify the various story angles to your media pitch and then write your pitch letters. Run them past peers you trust to ensure you’ve hit the mark.
Passive PR is tangential to your public relations campaign, but these passive leads often jump start a campaign with national TV, newspaper or magazine coverage.
One of the many expensive subscriptions publicists pay for is ProfNet, owned by PR Newswire, which notifies publicists every hour – sometimes more often – as journalists upload requests for expert sources to quote on stories. Included in the query will be their contact information, the publication and the deadline. Publicists are constantly in competition with each other to win that lead for their clients.
There are three free services—and this is likely to grow--that will automatically send you journalist queries every day for FREE, and there are often ProfNet queries on those feeds. They are:
Help A Reporter Out, aka, HARO.
“ Always Be Prepared.” -- The Boy Scouts of America
Is Your EPK (Electronic Press Kit) Ready to Rock on your Website? Do you have a “News Room” on your site? Here’s Your Handy Dandy Check List:
#1. Your professional head shot in low, medium and high resolution. Low is 72 dpi for the Web, medium is 200 dpi (for newspapers) and high-resolution is 300 dpi
#2. Your logos in above resolutions for the media to download
#3. Your Bio
#4. Your “Backgrounder” or “One Sheet,” which describes your company, product or service
#5. Fact Sheet: Interesting facts and stats on your industry
#6. Your Press Mentions (PDFs, Audio and Video/YouTube/Vimeo link Files)
#8. Sample Interview Questions and Answers for Producers
#9. Your Press Releases
#10. Your white papers, if you’ve written any
#11. Expert source list of your topic specialties
NOTE: If you don’t have a Website, you can create an EPK on PressKit247.com for a yearly fee.
As newsrooms continue to play musical chairs with the decline in newspaper reading and people job hop more often than Dale Earnhardt Jr. changes his oil, remember this:
#1. Research your media list , but also “clean” the list you’ve built, e.g., double-check each journalist’s profile on LinkedIn and Google them. See which topics they’re writing about. If your list tells you they’re the Sports Editor and you can’t find a sports article they’ve written beyond 2009, they’ve probably shifted roles in the newsroom or left altogether.
#2. How do I get a media list? Either pay to have a virtual assistant build one for you (my virtual assistant builds lists and I can share her contact info with you), or subscribe to Cision, Vocus, Wooden Horse Publishing or MyMediaList.com to get contacts. For radio, I like Alex Carroll’s Radio List. You will also want to hit Alltop.com and see who the top bloggers are in your category so you can include them on your list.
If you’ve ever had a career as a telemarketer, a good portion of what you do as a publicist is “smiling & dialing,” or phoning (and emailing) your media contact to pitch your client.
For some of you, this will be like appearing before a judge without your lawyer present. Some journalists and producers will chew you up and spit you out, so you have to have a thick skin for this kind of work. To their credit, they’re overworked, understaffed, often underpaid, and you’re interrupting them in the middle of writing what would have been their Pulitzer Prize-winning story. What do you think should be the first words out of your mouth?
“ Hi. I’m Denise Dorman – is this a good time for a briefing on Rock Hudson’s illegitimate love child?”
If they’re busy, they will tell you right away and give you a better time to call. If your pitch tantalized them enough, they will give you a moment.
We’ll get into press releases in a moment, but please understand that publicists understand what is newsworthy, and non-publicists often think everything they do is newsworthy. It takes no time at all for journalists to peg you as the “Little Boy Who Cried Wolf” or “Mr. All Story, No News.” (For the Texans among us that’s, “Mr. All Hat, No Cattle.”)
Here are some missteps to avoid:
#1. Never, ever, ever call or email and ask the media if they’ve received your press release. EVER.
#2. If you do get interviewed by the newspaper or a magazine, do NOT ask them to let you review the piece before it goes to print. This is a great way to alienate yourself from the media. You do NOT control editorial. Some journalists will call to fact check your quotes, and some will show you the articles ahead of time, but they don’t owe it to you. Be appreciative when it happens.
First, press releases enhance your SEO or Search Engine Optimization. I could give you hundreds of topics for a release, but here are just a few ideas:
#1. You’ve conducted a survey and you want to share some surprising results or identify a trend. (Editors LOVE trends)
#2. You’re launching a new book, product, service or company.
#3. You’ve won an award.
#4. You’re announcing an upcoming lecture or speech you’re presenting.
#5. You’re celebrating a key anniversary –in increments of five – 5, 10, 15, 20 year anniversary.
#6. You attended an event that would be good for your personal brand, e.g., you attended the Oscars after party, or a political fund-raiser and you have photos of yourself with influential people. These images are great fodder for the social pages of regional magazines.
#7. You have timely or seasonally relevant tips to share, such as “The Top 10 Safest Costumes for Halloween” or “5 Ways to Overcome Seasonal Allergies” (Editors LOVE credible reader tips)
(For more press release topics, “Like” me at FB.com/writebrainmedia)
#1. An Interesting, active voice headline that tells the whole story at a glance.
#2. The first paragraph should include the “Five W’s” of journalism – Who, What, Where, When and Why
#3. The 2 nd paragraph often includes a quote from the principal of the company, the author or the personality I’m representing.
#4. Bullet point your facts. Reporters, producers and editors are human scanners. They are pressed for time. Make your release the path of least resistance.
#5. Your press release must be factual only. Any and all opinions, such as praise for your new book, must be attributed to someone’s personal quote.
#6. Research your key words to ensure you’re getting the most SEO love from your release. Use the Google Adwords tool to calculate which key words get the most searches.
#7. Include your “boilerplate” at the end of the release, e.g., “About WriteBrain Media” and a brief paragraph on the person or company.
#8. End with media contact information, including the office, mobile and email information.
#9. At the very end of a release you’ll see -###- or -30- - in the days of yore, newspaper printers used the number 30 to indicate the end of a story and the beginning of a new story. Today it’s still tradition to put a # # # at the end of a story to indicate the very end.
Creating a Media Event to Attract Attention: Always a Gamble
Generally speaking, this is an expensive way to get a story written that, if important enough, would have been written without the event.
It’s understandable if you’re demonstrating some revolutionary vacuum cleaner technology that needs to be seen (although a good YouTube video will accomplish the same), but the old saying is, “If it bleeds, it leads.” One bad accident in your town will pull all of the reporters and photographers away from your event.
Publicists are on their worst pins and needles when they are relying on media to show up for an event, knowing full well they’re competing with breaking news.
True story: I fired a politician client who insisted on staging an outdoor press conference without merit, on a cold, snowy February day. His competitor, a smart politician, would have been wise to show up and photograph or videotape the lack of interest and absence of attendees and media.
Aside from the aforementioned media lists I suggested you build and develop relationships with, there are the “wire services” and newsrooms do give those priority over all else. The wire services we use most are as follows:
There are about 100 FREE press release services, my suggestion is, use PressReleasePoint.com for a low fee, around $15, to do this FOR you. Each service interface differs and they all take a lot of your time in setting up profiles or accounts.
Other Plans to Promote Yourself, Your Product or Your Brand
If you’re trying to get your book, consumer product or music CD mentioned in a magazine’s “Holiday Gift Round Up” or placed as a background product in a TV show or film, check out GiftListMedia.com. Amy Stumpf provides you with an Excel spread sheet of opps for a fee. Each “season” is its own separate list purchase, e.g., “Moms, Dads and Grads” for May, June and July.
If you’re not making news at the moment, write a guest blog. Can’t find one? Sign up for free at Cathy Stucker’s BloggerLinkUp.com and you’ll get a daily list of blog writing opportunities, plus people who will guest write your blog. This is great for building up link exchanges and improving your SEO.
Write an Op Ed in your local newspaper, Time magazine, or even the NY Times. Ironically, you’re more likely to get local coverage AFTER you’ve gotten national coverage.
Social Media: God’s Gift to Entrepreneurs & Start-Ups
Come on in! The water’s fine! If you haven’t already, you WILL need to do the following, just to better track your results and keep up with your competitors. Best of all, it’s all FREE. It only costs you time.
#1. Create a Facebook Fan Page for you, your book and/or your business. Ask 25 friends to “Like” your page and you will qualify for a vanity URL at Facebook.com/username rather than the alphabet soup URL Facebook issues automatically.
#2. Create a LinkedIn Profile for yourself, research the groups on LinkedIn most likely to hire someone like you, and don’t forget – ask your clients and customers to give you referrals. Being a “Top Referred on LinkedIn” is a coveted position. Also look at networking with LinkedIn networking groups in your geographic area. It’s a great way to grow your database of contacts and speaking leads.
#3. Create a Twitter account and link it to post on your Facebook page. Have both appear as live feeds on your website.
#4. Go to Tumblr.com or WordPress.com and create a blog. Write on topics key to your industry to demonstrate your knowledge. Activate the RSS Feed capability on your blog. Use bitly.com to shorten your blog link and then Tweet it on Twitter and it will appear on your Facebook page. Ask your friends to ReTweet your link. Help that SEO.
#5. One of the greatest SEO generators is BlogTalkRadio. It’s free. Create a podcast, get good audio equipment so you sound good, and start creating content to post on iTunes that will resonate with your audience. It’s great practice for you as a public speaker to be spontaneous on the air.
#6. Create a Flickr photo account and start tagging your images, especially images of you with influential people.
Social Media: God’s Gift to Entrepreneurs & Start-Ups
#7. Set up your “SHARE” accounts so you can “Social Bookmark” your blog and important links. Sign up for FREE accounts on Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Yelp, etc. so you can repost those links everywhere.
#8. Ensure your profile is created on Amazon. This is for all of you, not just the authors listening. On Amazon, you can write reviews and it helps your SEO.
#9. Authors should set up profiles on GoodReads.com and Shelfari.com in addition to their Amazon profile.
#10. If you’re trying to market yourself in a hyperlocal geographic area, sign up for Twellow.com. You will find the Twitter accounts in your zip code and based on that, you can start following them and reaching out to those local Twitterers to get your message out.
More of God’s Gift to Entrepreneurs & Start-Ups: YouTube and Vimeo
What do decision makers want to see when hiring a speaker? They want to SEE THEM IN ACTION.
You need a library of video clips to show your mad speaking skills. YouTube and Vimeo make it easy for you to create your own branded “Channel” that you can link to your Electronic Press Kit on your “Media Room” page of your Website.
If you feel like “I can’t edit video,” you’re not alone. But there’s a GREAT service – you’ll want the “pro” version at a cost of $250/year – called Animoto.com that simplifies the video editing process. You’ll end up with professional-looking pitch pieces that will put your best foot forward.
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