When I first started my career in PR 18 years ago, I had graduated at the top of my class, was recruited by the largest PR firm in San Francisco and had my senior thesis published in an industry magazine.
But when the day came that I had to start contacting the media for the agency’s clients, I was shaking-in-my boots terrified.
Palms sweaty, heart beating so loud I couldn’t think, and memorizing scripts, facts and figures over and over again so I wouldn’t make a mistake.
I was representing really large clients and didn’t want to ruin their reputation, and I was going to talk to hardened, cynical reporters who get pitched hundreds of times a day by more seasoned pros than a recent graduate like me.
“They’re going to think I’m ignorant, stupid and wasting their time.”
“They’re going to eat me alive,” I thought.
If you’re an entrepreneur, mom or small business owner doing your own PR, that may be how you’re feeling. If you’re fearing doing your own PR because you might face a grumpy reporter or be rejected by a blogger, chances are, you are stuck and not trying to get any publicity at all.
Which would be a shame.
If you believe, truly believe, in your product, service or gift you have for the world then there are customers waiting to hear from you, and would buy from you – if only they knew about you.
Getting buzz outside your sphere of influence means you need to step out of your comfort zone and reach out to people who don’t know you. Like reporters and bloggers. Who will then tell their readers and subscribers about you. Who may buy from you and recommend you to their friends. And so on.
Sometimes, it can take just a few minutes to get your first media hit, like Janet Esposito, in a PR case study I covered a while back.
Let me offer you Three Mindsets to try on, when doing your own PR that might just help you get unstuck and getting your business the publicity it deserves.
Mindset #1: Think Partnership – believe it or not, the journalist or blogger needs you as much as you need them. In this day and age of content-hungry blogs and short-staffed publishing houses, media are always looking for a good story. Sometimes they just don’t have the resources to find you.
Especially your local press and if you just look around, there are a ton of opportunities in your backyard. See my post on How to Build Your Own Media List. Remember that your local press’ mandate is to cover local companies and personalities. They will choose YOU over a competitor 1000 miles away!
Mindset #2: Don’t take it Personally – yes, you will be rejected even if you have a killer story, the right reporter, the right publication or the right blog. Here are a few reasons why:
• the editor just ran that story two months ago (on your competitor)
• you’ve missed the deadline because they start working on their Christmas issue in August
• they have an editorial calendar and your story does not fit into this month’s theme (but it may down the road!)
• the blogger or editor is having a bad day and is not really in the right frame of mind (think about what you’re like when you’re having a bad day)
Which leads to:
Mindset #3: Be Persistent
Like anything in life, you get what you put into PR. If you don’t get immediate results, learn why your pitch didn’t work and make it better. If your pitch is fine, just pick up the phone and keep calling or emailing other reporters and publications. The more you contact, the more momentum you’ll gain.
Sometimes you’ll get nothing for weeks and then 3 stories hitting at the same time. It can be a numbers game, really.
And celebrate small milestones too.
I once got coverage for one of my companies in a free newspaper. A month later it led to coverage in a national magazine. We got thousands of dollars in product orders. And six months later, I was contacted by a producer for a national TV show. When I asked her how she heard about us, it was from that free newspaper I thought nobody read. She had kept the clipping in her file.
Don’t underestimate the power of a little publicity. It goes a long way in building your brand, establishing you as a leader in the marketplace and generating awareness and sales for your company.
What mindset would help you get some buzz going for your company?
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies, which she's also using for her own bling flip flop company.
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