The Small Company P/R Guide to Recognition, Status and Success
P/R is the most effective way to grow your company, but it takes some time.
Besides the obvious pursuits for publicity; podcasts, blogging and guest posts, I am going to talk about the hard stuff; print, radio, and television.
I’ve successfully worked directly with each and the basic reason I was successful was that I was willing to do the work, the hard work and continuous follow up at every stage until I got results.
The reason you will be successful is that everyone else is not willing to do this and you will get it done!
In 1984, I had an idea for a software program that I thought would make a big impact and evolve over time to become one of the most well-known programs of its type. I had high aspirations, but very little in the way of a promotional budget.
In fact, we had $10K in total to launch a product and wasted $6K of it on stupid ads in the wrong magazine. After that enormous failure, I went back to basics and decided to use public relations as my means of getting my software product into the hands of my end users.
I decided to do this because I needed to get the word out without spending a lot of money and because the press needs great products to write about– and I had one!
Basically, it worked because the company I started using P/R later sold for 8 figures, and you can do this, too, if you are willing to do the work.
I started with a list of publications that broadly covered the vertical market my software addressed. Before the Internet, you had to buy a subscription to a service that published a guide.
Where to Start:
Today, you can start here, which is a broad list of publications.
This will help you dive deeper into your market. Narrow down your list to your top 20 or 30 publications, and this will make it far easier to manage the task of outreach and contact.
Building a Process:
Outline exactly what you will say over the course of the next three to six months, with everything carefully planned in advance. Define your goals for each communication, and if you don’t achieve that goal, keep going until you do.
Use a CRM system to manage your contacts; I recommend a free service called Zoho.com which handles much of the tracking for you.
As your communication continues to go out like clockwork, do more research on the editor you are communicating with; make sure you know what they like and mention their past articles as a way to show you are paying attention.
If your goal is to get an interview, propose this up front and explain that is what you want and why you do.
While this “machine” is running, move next to Radio:
Talk Radio is big business at the top end of the spectrum.
Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern are celebrities, but they are impossible to get attention from. Instead, focus on the smaller markets and write letters to the show hosts.
Yes, I said “write” letters, not emails or phone calls. Letters preferably sent via FedEx overnight. Trust me, they will read your letters and will be intrigued that you went to that extent when no one else does.
This is a list of the “big guys” and may be open to a proposal if your subject is general and has a unique twist.
Also, as you do research into the best radio stations for your service or product, consider two facts: 90%+ of American Adults are reached by radio every week. In addition, the millennial market is increasing the fastest.
Be a storyteller. Construct your story based entirely on the benefit received by your listener. Capture attention with big benefits and repeat the name of your product/service throughout the interview. Tell stories about your clients/customers; what problems did they solve using your product/service?
Using URLs on the Radio:
Having spent millions on radio campaigns for Chet Holmes and Tony Robbinsas the CEO of Business Breakthroughs International, I learned some important lessons.
I quickly realized that advertising or marketing on the radio using a URL is not effective unless you are “carpet bombing” your market with continuous radio exposure. The reason is simple: most people are driving and don’t remember URLs.
Getting a Free Phone Number:
An accessible way to get a free phone number is to set up a Google voice number. However, a more expensive option is www.grasshopper.com where you can get a live operator to answer. Regardless, people can dial a phone number while driving, but can’t make note of a URL. So while it may be worth mentioning the URL, it’s better to provide a phone number and mention the URL as well.
Vanity numbers are better than generic numbers because they are easier to dial and remember. But vanity numbers are expensive, and they can cost about $100-$150 a month to lease, but the best company to lease them from is www.Dial800.com
Your goal is to collect their phone number, name and email address. Any of the services I mentioned will capture the phone number, so just ask for their name and email address.
If you are scaling into an advertising campaign, consider using a virtual call center. There are several to choose from, and here’s a good place to start your research:
Do you say you don’t have time to do all this stuff? I get it.
That’s why my very first employee was a P/R person. She was hard working, paid on results and achieved some amazing success.
How to Work with a P/R Person:
Everyone needs to make a living, and, for a while, it makes sense to pay a base salary as your P/R person is coming up to speed. But results should show up at around the 30-day mark. This should look like interviews at smaller properties, local stations, industry publications, and some relevant podcasts.
At around 90 days, you should have already watched as your schedule starts to populate with all kinds of interviews.
Help your P/R person structure their workflow and give direction as to where you want to be seen and how much time they should spend on each medium. An example of a work plan might start with:
20% Writing Blog posts, guest posts: Medium, Huffington Post, WSJ, etc.
20% Running the campaigns using automation: MeetEdgar.com, Zoho.com, etc.
This is a great start and when your new P/R person starts to get some traction; in time, things can shift to what’s really working best.
If your new P/R person is doing a great job, then he or she should be rewarded on results. It’s not uncommon to pay bonuses based on reaching goals set out by the company CEO which is achievable with upside goals for outstanding performance. Setting up these milestones are not within the scope of this article, but should be carefully done to ensure great results.
TV as the Holy Grail of P/R:
Starting small is the key to getting started. This means you need to find small, local markets who are willing to have you on the air. They understand what you are doing and will offer to sell you a demo reel of your time on the air, so you can use it for both branding and as a means to get to the next level.
If you are on an ABC affiliate then you can use the ABC TV logo on your website and press materials.
Like everything in life, it takes work to get this set up, and depending on the nature of your service or product, it could happen quickly. For example, niche products in small market segments are not usually going to get a lot of general P/R since they don’t apply to a lot of people. Yet, broadly applicable topics can get a lot of great coverage if you as the CEO/Spokesman for your company show well, have a unique twist and a great story behind what you are doing.
This is not a how-to course on getting on TV since it’s all about the work you are willing to do. Someone who’s already achieved some notoriety will be a more likely choice for TV producers, obviously. It’s a numbers game, the more you reach out the better you will do. There’s an excellent program conducted by Geeta Nadkarni called www.BabyGotBooked.com which is the best place to start.
Public Relations is far more powerful than advertising. It can reach far more people than you can afford to pay for and becomes a cornerstone of all future outreach programs. Don’t be in too big a rush, get the results you want by doing the work.