I said to my friend the other day, after he was published in Singapore’s #1 English language publication, that “Any PR is good PR” to an extent at least. When I was just starting out as an entrepreneur, I was 14 years old. I remember even before this was ever a thought being featured in the newspaper for a good act I had done in my community, unrelated to my startup idea. I walked into the building of the Lincoln County Journal, the major local newspaper publication in my area. Sitting down in a conference room with a reporter, Bob Simmons. The recorder, his note book, and him asking me question after question. A few days later, my picture was circulating to over a dozen thousand people. This was thrilling to me, to say the least.
Fast-forward a few years, to my first start-up. I was running a children’s theatrical production company in Troy, MO. I was dependent upon a few things to help me succeed: my team, my family, my community, and potential marketing messages I could employ. Luckily, I realized very quickly thanks to outside positive reinforcement that what I was doing was rare; a young teenager starting a business and employing a few people in the community and offering services for local kids. This, I was informed of, was a story that needed to be told. Without hesitation, I called the Lincoln County Journal and asked to talk to Bob Simmons. He was not in the office so they connected me to another reporter, begrudgingly I followed through with my plan. Little did I know, this new reporter would come to be a huge attribution to my success in the community. Each time I had any glimmer of what I believed to be a news story, each event, each milestone, and every update, I called her directly and gave her the scoop or simply sent her a press release. A few emails later, my news would be swarming around the local communities.
A few things to take from this small story:
Find who your connections are in your community, in media. Learn their names, what they write or talk about, and how you can get in contact when the time comes. When I work with my media professionals, I develop friendships and even keep in connection via social media.
Know your story. What are you or someone else doing that needs to be made known. When you know the story, if you are a good writer, put it on paper in the form of a press release. Then send it to them, follow up with them in person or on the phone, and keep them in the loop with all the details.
Be prepared to tag in a line or two about “why should you care”. Why do the readers/listeners care, why should the media outlet promote it, and why would anyone support it (is there a benefit to the person, the organization, the community, or other).
Have a template ready for each and every press release you write. You can find plenty of examples online to use. A simple press release template will make your job of doing and sending a write-up to them much quicker and easier.
Don’t be afraid to call and talk. If you don’t speak up about yourself no one will know you are there. You may consider it bragging and that may be bad but it is just informing others on what you are offering the local community. People love to be aware of what is happening in the community, you are an agent of your community and therefore should be able to inform them of what you are doing.
When you let media outlets know about what you are doing, why you are doing it, who it benefits, where it happens and when you are supplying them with all the details they need to produce buzz for you. The more attention you can get, whether someone writes about you or you write it and send it out, the better off you will be. My first company survived by posting endless press releases in the local publications. You can have the same if you learn how to constructively brag about yourself and your business in the right way to the right people. There have been a set of articles that I have created, each one explains an idea that one of my entrepreneurship students has and is working on. I created these articles as the stepping stones for them to use to become present in the media. Since writing the articles and making the media aware of these students (doing the bragging for them), most of them have been or will be featured in their local publications and a few are set for radio interviews. This is the power of bragging on the great things you are doing that others aren’t. In turn, the things you do and promote in the press will see higher success rates meaning that your odds of overall success increase.
Try this out: Write a 500 – 1500 word press release on an event, exciting personal story about you and your business, or even the grand opening of your business. Take that press release, get it edited by an educated friend, family member, or English teacher. Call the local newspaper, television station, or radio channel and ask them to cover or support you/the event. Offer to send them the article and get their contact to stay in touch. Feel free to comment or let me know what happens with your usage of this method.