The difference between a master craftsperson – a true artist – and someone who has done a ‘paint by numbers’ job is often easily discernable to observers. But where do you start in demonstrating your expertise? Like all professionals you have a day job – KPIs to meet, a company to run, clients to engage, a board or investors to answer to. You want to take the next step in your business model and have a hunch that getting some publicity might be one of the necessary steps.
I am often asked what the best way is to attract ‘good’ media attention (getting attention for the wrong reasons is easy). There are some basic things that, with planning, will ensure you optimize opportunities when they come your way.
Here is where the disparity between a master craftsperson (who relies on contacts, relationships, and expert knowledge of your market and the media agenda) and a paint-by-numbers PR practitioner can become most evident. The latter approach is unlikely to be sustainable – it’s a far better idea to work on the basics so when the time comes and cashflows can sustain it, you are in a position to partner with a professional PR firm that can help you engage with your markets in a meaningful and perpetual way.
After all, luck is what happens when preparation and opportunity meet. It’s also true that while gaining positive publicity is essentially about trust, relationships and content, there are some basic paint by numbers initiatives that can get you closer to your PR goals. Being an expert in your area helps too.
While there are many other factors that affect whether you are quoted or not (eg the news agenda of the day, the availability of journalists, what the competition is saying) here is a list of building blocks that will help get your name or company closer to featuring in the media as an industry or key opinion leader:
1. Have an opinion – be willing to comment clearly and pithily on industry issues and how they relate to the national / local news agenda
2. Have a quality, creative photo (not a passport- type photo) that demonstrates your personality / what you do
3. Have an elevator pitch for your company and know how to adapt it according to the situation
4. Have a good, relevant (short-form) bio
5. Be open to using business milestones to illustrate economic shifts and trends – for example:
- You are investing in a new strategy / building / refurbishing / market
- You are moving factories / warehouse / plants / stores
- You are acquiring or being acquired by a company
- You have an overseas visitor / international CEO / manager / guest speaker that has relevant ideas for New Zealand
- You have done research on your markets
- You have a new product or service that has relevance to business or consumer markets
- You have invested in a community initiative – are ‘paying it forward’ in some way – or are attracting your community through a creative idea
6. Once you have a few ‘runs on the board’ and are getting quoted regularly and have developed trust:
- Create an In The Media section on your website – this will help you build momentum and share your media milestones with customers and prospects
- Share your media links, such as interviews and opinion pieces, in your e-mail signature, newsletters, and with staff – these create talking points for people within your company. When teams are talking with customers, that’s a good thing.
- Send your loyal clients and prospects a copy of the latest NBR, Unlimited or New Zealand Herald in which you or a company executive has been quoted. It’s a conversation starter.
7. Write a regular blog – this creates another opportunity to share your thoughts/ opinions/ ideas with your immediate community of staff, partners, stores, sales teams, regional teams etc. If they are written in a relevant way they can also be syndicated to mainstream media and used to ‘bait one-to-one coffees with journalists.
8. Learn how to tell stories. Nothing much has changed since sitting around the campfire thousands of years ago. Journalists know their readers like anecdotes and real stories that capture their imagination.
9. Get to know the journalists and bloggers in your area of specialization. Read what they write and be ready to engage them on relevant story ideas.
10. Ask for recommendations of your work on LinkedIn and on your own website – these add credibility when journalists are investigating your background.
11. Don’t send a “media release” to multiples of outlets expecting journalists to pick it up. They receive hundreds, sometimes thousands a day.
12. Be mindful of the deadlines and leadtimes of the various media as well as what editorial features they have planned. Bugging a journalist at the wrong time won’t do it.
13. Write a book – it’s not only a giant business card , but another good excuse for a conversation.