My last post 3 PR tactics to boost your sales in 2013 promised more ways to decrease the time spent on content marketing.

There are some business owners and corporate climbers that make content marketing seem simple, but for many the concept is utterly overwhelming. How do these people pop up on blogs, Twitter, the media, speaking engagements and still manage to succeed at their jobs or as business owners? Are they sitting up all night writing or do they have a team of ghost writers squirreling away to produce their content for them?

The answer is no. Well maybe some do, but the smart ones certainly don’t. They are skilled multi-taskers. They have mastered the platforms they use to distribute, engage and share content and and they are (usually) experts in their fields. They dedicate considerable time to reading and producing stellar work but definitely don’t sit up all night writing new material simply for marketing purposes.

Many people I work with are experts in their field and have worked for decades producing vast amounts of research, content, templates, reports and tailored approaches and solutions to their clients’ problems. This is the gold.

Rather than starting from scratch, good content marketers use what they already have at their fingertips, tinker with it and streamline the distribution of this content simultaneously through multiple online channels.

So before you start furiously hitting the keyboard and creating content, make a cup of tea and ponder these six questions:

  1. Who am I promoting?
  2. Why do I need content marketing?
  3. What do I want to achieve?
  4. Who is my target audience and what are their online behaviours?
  5. What work have I developed throughout my career that my audience needs, wants or might like to access?
  6. How much time do I have to devote and how engaged do I want to be?

The beauty of content marketing is that you can go at your own pace and build your engagement as you establish a pattern and feel comfortable. Once you start, ideas will flow and you’ll be on a roll.

Which tools to use?

Next, decide which tools you you’re going to use and which you aren’t going to use. This is clearly linked to answering the questions above, especially the one about your audience. You obviously want to place content where your audience is. Here are just a few channels to choose from:

  • Website
  • LinkedIn
  • Blogging
  • Electronic mail distribution (online newsletter)
  • Video
  • Podcast
  • Slide shows
  • Webinars
  • Social media

Maximising existing content

Before you start scheduling blocks of time to tinker with piles of content you already have, look at your calendar for the month. Are you speaking publicly? Are you due to put out a media release? Is your website up-to-date? You might be speaking next week and if so, don’t leave without your video camera!

You may not realise it but the media release you have written or the speech you have prepared is already content for your other channels.the media release you have written or the speech you have prepared is already content for your other channels

Giving a speech? Video it and post it on your website. Post your notes as a blog or e-newsletter story. Want to go further? Edit it in to an Opinion Editorial and send it to an editor to publish. Once all this content is available via your website, promote it through LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook – whatever channels you choose that are right for the audiences you wish to reach.

This example applies to any content you develop in your day-to-day business. Some reports and research my clients have developed can even be turned in to five separate blogs or opinion editorials. In one work task they have actually achieved the possibility of five published pieces in the media.

Recycling your content and specifically tailoring it for your audience and, delivering it to them through the channels they want to receive it from will not only make you more visible online, it will permit you to share your knowledge for the benefit of others and engage and participate online, at your leisure.

Set up your website to automatically distribute your e-news and house your blog. You can set up your social media to automatically promote new content on your website and so on. If you structure it well, you can basically create one item for three channels and promote via ten platforms all at the click of a button!

Once you’ve answered the questions in this article, set aside some time to timeline activities and dig through the work you’ve done over the past two or so years.

Let me know what hidden gems you uncover!

Felicity Grey

Founder and Managing Director of The Theory Crew. Felicity contributes to PR and Marketing section. Melbourne, Australia.

Featured image: Victor1558


Wikipedia defines Public Relations as ‘the practice of managing the flow of communication between an individual or organisation and the public’.

In 2013, it’s time to take a deep look at your audience. Who are they and what do they need from you? How are you going to solve their problems this year? If you can articulate a concise answer to the last question, you’re best placed to embark on PR in 2013.

So what are the top three PR tactics you should use in 2013 to boost your sales? Here are some simple but effective tips:

1.    Think before you email

The more you can put yourself directly in front of your client and customers, the better your chances at establishing a genuine relationship, trust and sales. Make time to meet people face to face and genuinely listen to what they have to say. PR is about two-way communication. Don’t tell them what you want them to know or hear. Listen to their problem and then respond with a solution. This is PR Rule Number One and often forgotten when we can all so easily revert to email. Face-to-face is always the best way to build a relationship and a good relationship is the best way to generate sales.

2.    ‘One-to-many’

Public speaking presents a great fear for many but it’s possibly one of the best ways to build your profile and speak to your target audience at large. This year, investigate potential speaking opportunities or even create your own. If you take a look at all the successful entrepreneurs of the world, they all have one thing in common – they all speak publicly and share their story, their tips and their advice. Do the same and you will instantly increase your brand exposure, demonstrate how you solve problems and pick up a few new clients or customers along the way.

3.    Get on-line savvy

The fact that you’re reading this means you are already familiar with blogs and online news but how far have you come in implementing an online profile for yourself or your business? It may feel overwhelming or too time consuming to contemplate but developing your own blend of traditional and online marketing communications and PR activities will help you boost your reach, and increase your audience. So, start with a PR plan and conduct a review of your target audience. Where do they go online and what do they want and need? How can you deliver answers and results? Look at your website, potential partner organisations, blogs, content marketing, online advertising, media relations, online videos, social media – the list of possibilities is endless – then deduct those that don’t apply to you.

Your implementation plan will allow you to use some methods as a starting point and you can gradually introduce new channels, as you feel ready. Once you’re up and running, learn how to make clever use of your content. For instance, if you speak at a seminar, film it and use it for your e-newsletter, website and promote it via your social media channels. There are so many ways to decrease the time spent and make best use of the information you prepare so you don’t reinvent the wheel each time – this is in next month’s post!

I hope these simple tips give you a good starting point for your PR efforts this year.

Top image: Julien Haler

 


Media releases are designed to announce something new, timely or relevant. They arrive, by the hundreds, into the inboxes of busy journalists each day. These journalists, aside from conducting interviews, dealing with editorial deadlines and writing their stories are all on the hunt for a genuinely new and relevant story for their readers.

So when they receive a media release that is not applicable to their section, it is quickly moved to the trash and often cursed. On the flip side, when journalists do receive an informative email or phone call targeted to their subject, their readers and their writing style, they will usually welcome the effort.

So let’s consider the need to send that media release. Would hitting the delete button and writing a targeted email instead work better?

An email or phone call is perfect for a story idea. If you have a newspaper, magazine or journalist in mind for your story, you will have far greater chances of publication if you make contact with the journalist to tell them the story or send it in a concise (one paragraph) email. Aside from giving the journalist an exclusive angle on your story, you’ll also be establishing meaningful rapport and building the blocks of a long term, mutually beneficial relationship.

Here are some tips for writing a meaningful story pitch and ditching the media release:

  • Research your journalists and publications. Select those that would respond well to the story you have in mind and email a concise email with a clear angle.
  • Don’t send blatant promotion. It’s not an advertisement. If your email doesn’t present a new story opportunity to the journalist, their publication and their audience it will be binned.
  • Tell it straight. If you’re embellishing or exaggerating facts to make yourself and your product sound better than it is, your announcement isn’t newsworthy and your attempt at building a relationship with a journalist will stop right there.
  • Keep it short and concise. Two paragraphs as a maximum but one paragraph is best. Craft your email explaining what your story is, why you think it’s relevant, how you can add value and when it might work best. Then you’ve genuinely done your job and tried to help the journalist you want to engage with to write your story.
  • Proofread what you have written and send it. Some journalists like a follow-up phone call and some don’t. I suggest letting them know you will be following up in a few days and ask them when might be the best time.

If you’ve you have read this and still want to send the media release, by all means do, just make sure it is sent to the journalists that are right to receive it.

Best of luck having your story published!

 

Top image: athena


Finding the right PR partner can be fickle. Like finding the right person to date, you know when it’s a perfect fit but it can take sometime before you realise it is likely to go horribly wrong.

Many businesses feel they’ve been burnt by PR people and agencies so their solution is to completely avoid PR, attempt DIY PR with mixed results or get back in the game and shop for a new PR relationship that (fingers crossed) won’t let them down. Like any relationship however, it’s best to start with honesty – on both sides.

For too long PR practitioners have been the smooth talking, leather jacket wearing rebel boyfriend your parents warn you about. They promise the world and just end up disappointing you.

It’s time for this mentality and behavior to change. Very rarely do I meet a business owner who hasn’t had a negative or disappointing experience. While there are many talented, hard working, creative and well-connected PR people out there willing and ready to work hard for your dollars, the fact remains that without good communication at the outset, the expectations from both sides can be ill-represented and the relationship will fail.

Here are five tips to help you pinpoint Mr. or Miss Right.

How to choose PR agency

1. Play the field

It’s a good idea to speak to at least three consultants as a minimum. However, make sure you give all three the same brief so you can compare apples with apples. This is also fair for the agencies or consultant you are speaking to. Ask people you know for recommendations, look at companies that have PR receiving coverage that might work for you, check out Twitter or your industry’s trade news -there is sure to be a PR firm specialising in your sector but don’t disregard those who don’t -they may bring a fresh approach.

Also, don’t take the ideas on one agency and then opt to implement all their ideas yourself or give their ideas to another agency – it’s bad form, unfair, costs the agency time and money to give you ideas for free and happens way too often.

2. Tell ‘em what you want

There’s a line between dictating how you want your PR campaign to be implemented and leaving it up to the PR pro. I think there should be a balance. If you can, prepare either a written or verbal brief to to define your business objectives and your communication objectives. If you can’t define these objectives, your expectations will not align with those your PR partner. If you’re not sure what your objectives are, meet with your team and work it out. There’s no point embarking on PR and/or marketing without knowing your business objectives. Brainstorm this and you will be all the wiser. Any good PR consultant should be able to develop your communications objectives based on your business objectives.

3. Know your worth…and theirs

I never expect my clients to share their budget with me when we’re in the “dating” phase but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a clear idea what you want.  Like any relationship, know what you are willing to invest before you get started. You don’t necessarily need to share it at first but it’s good to know what you can devote to PR and then the issue of cost can be removed from the equation.

4. Here’s the deal…the real one

You might not know it but PR people love it when you tell them your real situation. If you can blurt out your real problem, most will fall over themselves trying to resolve the issue and create opportunities around your ideas and issues. Don’t be shy and don’t pretend, remember the right person is there to actually help you. Remember: your potential PR partner is not a journalist. They will be working for you. Don’t treat the briefing stage as a media interview. Tell the truth so the PR personal can really help you solve your problems.

5.    Avoid the fast, smooth talker

I don’t care who you are, anyone that talks fast and too much during the proposal, briefing stage is not listening and won’t deliver what you need let alone what you want. It’s one thing to get excited about an idea and another to fail to ask questions and listen. So if the PR people you are taking to are fast talking about their other clients’ results and their high profile journalistic contacts without asking you constructive questions forget it. It’s not going to work…unless you want to throw your money away.

6.    Do you read? You know…books and newspapers and stuff?

Anyone can pitch a story to a journalist and be published – you don’t need to have a relationship. Yes it does help to be well connected and know someone but any self respecting journalist or editor will respond to a good story whether they know you or not.

So…ask your potential PR firm what they read.

BRW’s Leo d’Angelo Fisher suggested this one and I think it is a brilliant question. If they can answer you straight away this is a good sign and if they stumble it’s an even better indication of what they’re really about…your dollars most likely.

Your want your PR firm to be reading. It’s ok if they don’t yet read your industry’s news or your favorite newspaper. If they can demonstrate that news is an important part if their day, this what matters.

Hint: If you have a chance to meet the junior in the agency ask them too. They’ll most likely be doing most of your pitching so it’s great to have a guide on how they present themselves. While you’re at it, ask your agency to break down the roles if who will be working on what components of your campaign.

7.  Let’s stick together…

Your time might be limited but the more material, information and new content you can provide to your PR partner the better your results will be. Try and discover a process with your PR partner to make the relationship information sharing as seamless as possible to alleviate the need for you to chase them and vice versa. You’re in it together and if done right you’ll avoid a heartbreaking fling and develop a mutually beneficial, long lasting relationship.

Felicity Grey is founder and Managing Director of The Theory Crew – PR and Marketing Communications helping SMEs unlock ideas, drive results and unleash potential. Theory Crew has DIY PR products to help businesses achieve their PR goals. Visit www.theorycrew.com.au

Top image: Credit


Who doesn’t want their name or that of their product or service in the media? While some people shy away from the spotlight most business owners know it is part of the deal when it comes to running a successful business.

However, many business owners tend to have a somewhat skewed view of how the media works. Many have worked with PR companies in the past or even had a go at DIY PR with mixed results or their efforts and investment have delivered next to nil. This is hard to stomach and understandably they feel burnt or disenchanted with the whole process.

So for those business owners who don’t want to give up and are ready to commit the time and effort, here are my nine steps to give yourself the best chance of getting your name in the media spotlight.

1.  Know the news and what makes it

Before you are the news you need to know a bit about what makes news. Journalists are looking for newsworthy content. They want the scoop and they want it yesterday.

They’re pretty tired of wading through volumes of content and often they need a magnifying glass to find the newsworthiness. For this reason most media releases end up in the bin. Your news needs to be new, timely, and local or present a novelty, consequence or conflict. You may have a human-interest story, but this too needs to present interesting content people actually want to read about.

Take a long, hard look at your product, service and the story you want to tell. Does it have any of these characteristics yet?

2.  Read

If you don’t read then it’s time to start. If you have a particular publication in mind for your story make sure you read the publication and the work of the journalist you want to approach.

The more targeted your angle when you present your story, the better your chances of being published. By reading a wide variety of publications you will increase your knowledge and understanding of how stories are written and where you and your product or service might fit.

Reading will give you so many ideas for angles, journalist contacts and stories. So, read, read and read.

Subscribe to blogs; digital media outlets and whatever else you can lay your hands on and set aside designated time to skim through content. Twitter is helpful for busy people because you can simply follow those you and your business are interested in and receive updates allowing you to decide when and what to read.

3.  Have a plan

Rather than plunging head first in to the media newsrooms consider forming a broader PR or Marketing Communications plan if you haven’t already.

Keep all your communications ideas and activities in the one place and make sure they leverage one another.

There’s no point re-inventing the wheel and keeping media relations as a silo. PR is public relations – the way and manner in which you relate to your publics – so this includes public speaking, events, meetings, media, marketing communication, social media – the list is endless.

Fit them all together in a well thought-out plan and I guarantee you will find new ways and ideas for boosting your media exposure.

 4.  Pretend you’re the journalist

Journalists and editors are busy people. If you want an idea of what their day is like, click here to read a day in the life of the Sydney Morning Herald.

I’ve lost count of the number of business people that have said to me “but what we’re announcing has never been done before. It is news. These journalists are lucky to have this – why don’t they care?”

Want the truthful answer? They probably don’t know about your story – even though you just sent it to them.

Editors and journalists receive hundreds of emails and phone calls every day, all from businesses who want their story told. Many have spent time developing an angle and many haven’t. Imagine you’re the journalist and your inbox is flooded with potential stories. You need to look through these while the phone rings hot from PR practitioners and business owners following up their email. Your editor is on your case about your upcoming stories, you have interviews to conduct and stories to write and deadlines to meet.

Pretend you’re the journalist and you will better develop your story angle and probably interact with the journalist better too.

 5.  Avoid media releases

I’m going to say it. I think media releases are daggy.

Of course, there remains a place for the good old media release but I find I achieve better results with a targeted, meaningful “pitch” email.

A media release is great if you have a large media target list and an announcement that applies to a wide variety of media publications. Chances are however, most of the time, you will have a story that is relevant to select journalists and your angle on that story will vary dependent on the publication and journalist you are pitching to.

Also, put your journalist hat on for a moment and consider receiving a media release along with hundreds of others. Journalists want first dibs at the news, so is this really a way to get them onside?

Avoid the media release when you can.

 6.  Develop a story

A story should be rich in content and provide a beginning, middle and an end. A story is never written by any journalist simply stating “X product is really good because…”

A story should entwine your key messages with those your readers want and need to hear. It should if possible be relevant to what’s currently happening in the news.

Rather than simply talking about yourself, your product and what you want, consider framing your story to be about the benefits of your product to the end user and provide interesting facts that may not be directly related to your product or service but that support your argument.

Make sure you do some research and use quotes and opinions by people that can support your position. Have a think outside the square, how can you involve other people in your story?

7.  Write a winning pitch

Ditch the media release and write a pitch directly to an individual journalist. Keep it short and sharp i.e. a paragraph at best, and directly write to the journalist with information they will find useful for their readership, listeners or audience.

8.  Stick to the truth

Don’t ever embellish or make up facts. Journalists are clever and they will see through it.

9.  Follow-up

Remember when I said a lot of content goes straight to the bin? Make sure you follow-up your media release or your pitch email. Call the journalist you sent it to and ask if they received it. Often you’ll need to send it again. Ask them when a good time to call might be and follow-up to discuss it. If you receive a no, ask why. It might be your angle wasn’t quite right and needs tweaking or it might be a similar story was already covered. Take the opportunity to build a relationship and ask them what they would like to receive from you.

All the best with your media efforts; follow these steps and you will be well on your way to building your media profile.


Felicity Grey is founder and Managing Director of The Theory Crew – PR and Marketing Communications helping SMEs unlock ideas, drive results and unleash potential. Theory Crew has DIY PR products to help businesses achieve their PR goals. Visit www.theorycrew.com.au

Featured image: Credits