CEO of Tribe Builder Media
You’ve designed and launched a mobile app and are starting to make a lot of money. You’ve been practicing medicine for years, and now you’re ready to open your own practice. You’ve just finished a round of funding, and now you’re ready to ready to take your marketing efforts to another level.
But are you ready to dive into the world of public relations? You know that you want the world be aware of you and your product, message or mission. You’re excited, and you believe in what you’ve created -- but do you have all the elements in place needed to launch a short-term PR campaign or hire a publicist for the long haul?
Before you even start researching PR firms, think first about the meaning of publicity -- and what you want out of it. According to Business Dictionary, publicity is the “type of promotion that relies on a public relations effect of a news story carried usually free by mass media. The main objective of publicity is not sales promotion but creation of an image through editorial or 'independent source' commentary. While the publicist can control the content of the story, he or she may not have any control over its placement or interpretation by the media.”
So even in this frenzied digital world, PR is the same as it ever was -- it’s meant to raise awareness, not directly sell anything. When it works, the spotlight will be on you -- and you have to be ready for it.
Here are a few things to consider before launching your first PR campaign:
1. Your thought leadership is your pitch.
Even the most experienced entrepreneurs and distinguished executives have trouble with this one. Often times, C-levels and founders are reluctant to step into the spotlight. They prefer being more behind the scenes, but this will hurt the chances of getting your company the media attention it deserves. Consumers want to hear directly from the people leading the organization and the founders behind the emerging startups -- not a faceless message behind a brand.
Work with your PR agency to prepare three to five solid topics you can speak to, each having a headline and no more than a sentence or two describing the topic. What is being talked about in the media and online that you can lend your expertise to? Many PR firms use advanced AI and data-science backed analytics to monitor conversations and trends, but a quick keyword search on twitter can provide valuable insight as well.
Still struggling to come up with ideas? Think about the lessons you’ve learned on your entrepreneurial journey. You might be surprised how impactful parts of your own story could be to your audience.
It’s essential to get out of your own head and think about how what you’re doing is meant to help or in some way benefit others, not necessarily how it’ll make you look like a rock star. A good PR person lends that third-party credibility when approaching writers and editors, so it doesn’t seem like you’re just bragging about how wonderful you are.
2. Provide polished details of your personal brand.
Thought leadership and personal branding go hand-in-hand. Your audience, as well as the media, want to know who the founders are on a more personal level. A CEO’s following on social media is quickly becoming one of the first things looked to as social proof. Make sure your profile is polished and ready to go:
Create a succinct and interesting bio. This is extremely important to get right, and an experienced PR person can help you formulate it.
Get a high-resolution, professional headshot. No selfies!
Collect previously published clips relevant to what you are promoting -- where you have been written about or you have written something yourself.
Have links to all social media, including number of followers. Writers and editors want to know that you are able to help share the article.
3. See what sticks.
Now that you have your pitch and personal brand ready to go, let’s see what sticks.
Have your agency develop a targeted media list. This should be compiled of the agencies own contacts as well as lists pulled from social listening tools. Your pitches are more likely to be picked up by the journalist and writers that are actively writing or talking about a particular subject.
Test out the pitches and see which ones get interest. Don’t get discouraged if no one picks them up at first. Your agency should be able to tell you if the pitch emails were at least opened, which can give you an indication that you’re on the right track. Stay on this step until it becomes clear that a particular pitch or two is starting to get interest.
4. Do some leg work. Think like a journalist.
Now that you’ve really nailed your pitch(es), it’s time to really polish it up to make it even more appealing. Look for data and other statistics that support your pitch and the industry you’re in -- similar stories that have appeared and relevant use cases. Journalists will appreciate you handing them everything on a “silver platter,” so to speak.
That being said, always have realistic expectations before diving full-force into a PR campaign. Don’t expect to get a spot on Good Morning America the same day you hire a publicist. Choose a PR agency that focuses on results and understands digital marketing and what it takes to grow a business.