Regarding media exposure, I’ve had this conversation many times:
You: “I think I have a great product, but no one knows about it.”Me: “Do you have someone handling your public relations?”You: “We looked into it, but it’s so expensive. We’re just trying to do it ourselves for now.”Me: “Well, what are you doing?”You: “We post on social media and send out press releases, but it’s like people still don’t know we exist.”
Well, if you want to know why you’re not earning media exposure… maybe it’s because you’re not making yourself, your product, your service, your business, or even your brand newsworthy.
1. You’re not earning media exposure because you are sending a press release.
Before I start working with most clients, the words “press release” are usually spoken in the first 10 minutes… and not by me. I don’t like press releases, but many small business owners insist on me writing them and sending them out. If this is what you’re doing, this is why they may not be working for you:
Your press release is too long
Your press release is boring
Your press release is complicated
Your press release is not newsworthy
Your press release is too evergreen
2. You’re not earning media exposure because you are reaching out to the wrong people.
Earning media coverage is hard. Because it’s not only free, but much more effective than advertising, small business owners want it for their brand. Many times, this means pitching anyone and everyone in the media industry with an email address. This is not effective. When I was a TV reporter in Miami, I would receive pitches that included a topic in a different market, a topic I have never covered before, a topic that would never be covered by the TV station itself, and the list goes on.
3. You’re not earning media exposure because you are promoting your brand too much.
While some media coverage may end up being seen as a great commercial for a brand, it should never be pitched this way. Remember, the job of a journalist is to tell a story that will educate, entertain, and evoke some kind of emotion in the reader or viewer. If your brand isn’t doing that with a pitch, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
4. You’re not earning media exposure because you are not trying hard enough.
Very rarely does a member of the media come to you. If one does, consider yourself lucky and that a rare occasion. Journalists work 24/7 – at 2:00 am, on Christmas morning, and many times in a few different cities in just a couple of days. It’s not a 9-5 job, so you cannot treat your outreach like it is.
5. You’re not earning media exposure because you are not ready.
If your website is not up and running or if your product is not ready for distribution, then you are not ready to earn media exposure. Unless you have a solid business plan with something to see, people to talk to, and documents to share, then you need to do more on the business side before trying to earn exposure in the media.
Now that you know what’s not working, why not try some things that work? In this free e-mail course, I’ll teach how to right some of these wrongs.
Bloggers are tricky. I recently got a lot of heat for a blog post I wrote about bloggers and why I don’t pitch them. To be clear, I do pitch bloggers and/or influencers, but I am very selective.This is the deal with bloggers, nine times out of 10 you will need a budget to pay them. That’s not earning coverage. That’s paying for it. There is a difference between editorial and advertorial. Most public relations firms or publicists are hired to earn coverage and not pay for it. On one hand, journalists cannot accept payment for their work. That is unethical. However many journalists blog. I am a journalist, and I also accept payment for blogs. (Not here. On Mascara Maven.) The difference is noting a conflict of interest and/or disclosing when the coverage is paid for. If a blogger accepts a payment of any kind, it must be disclosed on the blog. This is a federal law… and it’s pretty new because of the way the blogosphere and social media influencing has blown up in the last few years. Some bloggers will throw you a bone and post something free of charge. This doesn’t happen a lot, but if the blogger and/or influencer is a friend or truly loves your brand, it could happen.
If a client has an extra budget for advertising, then the vetting process begins… and this gets even trickier. (Why vet? Because there are millions of bloggers and influencers online looking to make money because they are in a lucrative business.)
Usually, a blogger will respond to your pitch with a media kit that includes information about their reach on their site and on their social media channels as well at rates, etc. This is where I, as a blogger, get frustrated. Not with the rates, but with the reach. Growing an organic following of people who truly like your brand takes time – months, if not years. Too many bloggers fake their following, for lack of a better word. When I say fake, I mean a couple of things. Here’s one: Their following is paid for. Yes, there are quite a few places that offer the service of buying visits to your website, likes on your Facebook page, comments on Instagram, followers on Twitter, etc.
Look at this site. It’s slogan is Fastlane to Online Fame! (So embarrassing!) If you want to promote your brand online, you do not want to pay someone who claims to have a huge following, but in reality it’s this. It will do nothing for your brand. These fake numbers are not real people who will become customers. But how do you know if the following is real or paid for? I can tell who puts money into a service like this by looking at the comments onmy Instagram account. The comments are always so random and have nothing to do with the picture. (A downfall of automation.) How else do you tell? Well, there’s an app for that! Actually, there are a few apps for that. They aren’t 100% accurate because some count inactive accounts and in a few cases, it’s hard to tell who’s real and who’s fake. There is an app called Fakers that basically calls people out on a fake following. For example, I get terrible pitches from a woman at a PR firm that will remain unnamed. In her pitches, she starts by basically saying, “As a thank you for sharing this news on your outlet, we will share it with our 117,000 Twitter followers.” Being a social media manager, I wanted to check out this amazing Twitter account.Well, most of those followers are fake. Paid for. It’s a shame too because 21% of 117,000 is more than 23,000. That’s a great Twitter following. Why ruin it by buying fake followers?!There are also other ways to tell. Check outmy Twitter following. It is growing, but it is slow and steady. If one day you see numbers spike, someone just went viral (which is rare) or they bought their following.This is why bloggers are tricky. It can be hard to tell if a blogger really will have a positive impact on your brand or if you’re just throwing money away. (That’s the marketing industry in general.)There are also Facebook groups devoted to helping bloggers get more likes and comments. I actually used to participate in them when I started blogging. I thought it was great to have people read my blog, like my Facebook page, and comment on a post. Then, I remembered why they were doing it – because I would return the favor, whether or not I liked the content or not. In some groups, there are even rules that state you will get kicked out if you don’t like or comment in return. Keep in mind, these aren’t friends we’re talking about. Showing a friend or acquantance support online is completely different. These are complete strangers on the internet. I felt like it was a misrepresentation, not to mention very time consuming, so my participation in those groups was very short lived. (In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t care about how things look. I care about how things really are. I’m a principle person.)
Now, don’t get me wrong, as a blogger, it’s a great way to promote your blog and get it in front of others who may turn into true fans, but the majority just want the numbers to say, “Look at my numbers.” I’d rather have 100 real views, likes, followers, and comments than 10,000 fakes ones. If you’re paying for coverage, I’m sure you would agree you’d like to see real numbers.
Today, I read blogs, comment, like, and all that, but it’s because I want to, not because I’m getting something out of it in return.
With all of that said, this goes to show how influential bloggers are. Some operate their blogging business honestly and have a real following. Others want to get there too, but unfortunately, are taking short cuts.So, if you are looking to spend money on a blogger or influencer in exchange for publicity, make sure you know what you’re paying for.
For marketing your business online, Facebook is perfect because nine times out of 10, it’s where all your buyers are and the targeting that can be done is amazing. That’s why I love Facebook, but it has changed in the last year or so and has made things a little challenging for business owners, hence why I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.
As I explain, I’ll show you some examples with images from my own Facebook page.
Facebook limits your reach.
Before, you could post anything on a fan page, or business page – whatever you want to call it, and everyone would see it. Now, Facebook only shows certain posts to people who it thinks wants to see it. If it seems promotional, for example it includes a link to your website or has text like “buy,” it will limit your reach even more.
Take this post for example. I have more than 6,400 likes on my page, but Facebook has decided to show this post to just 184 people. It’s shared from a very popular page, features the star of a national TV show, includes four tags, and is getting lots of engagement on my page, but still, Facebook makes it visible to ONLY 184 people in my feed. This is the most frustrating part of Facebook as a small business owner and social media manager.
At the bottom of the post, you can see Facebook suggests I boost the post to get more results. That’s why Facebook is not a free platform for these kinds of pages. (And why it’s worth more than 18 billion dollars.) To reach people on Facebook, you need to boost posts and/or create ads. Facebook makes it very easy to target your audience this way. For example, I could choose to boost this post so only people who like the show I Am Jazz see it, to only people who care about LGBT issues see it, or only people in my geographical area see it. You can also choose a budget for as little as $1 a day to much more. When you choose your budget, Facebook gives you an estimate of how many people you will reach. You can play with these factors (audience and budget) to reach a higher amount of people.
In my experience, three kids of posts work best when it comes to the amount of people you reach – pinned to the top, videos, and Facebook live.
This is an example of Facebook live… well, more like a screen grab of it. It reminds me of when I would do live shots in news. It’s just a live recording of what you’re doing at that time. Like a post, you can still check in to a location, type some text, then hit record and create your live video. People who follow you and are on Facebook at that time will get a notification you are live, can watch, and even interact with you by commenting. When you’re done, the “live shot” just stays on your page like any other post.
Okay, now that I’ve described the basics regarding my love/hate relationship with Facebook, let’s get into a little social media management 101.
As I mentioned, it’s important to use tags on Facebook.
(Hashtags don’t work too well on Facebook. I’d save those for Twitter and Instagram.) When you check in or tag another page, it will get a notification and may respond which could also increase your reach. This is also why it’s important to react to every comment you receive on your page. (It’s called social media… so be social!)
It’s also important tohave a goal when you create an ad.
You will have a variety of call to action options when creating an ad. In my opinion, the most commonly used are the top four you see on this list. When you choose the option to increase conversions on your website, you can add something called a pixel to your website so when someone visits your site, it sends a message to the Facebook ad to target them again… because research shows that if you see the same thing 6, 7, or 8 times, you will buy it.
Speaking of call to actions, make sure your homepage has one.
You can create a button on your cover page to ask your audience to do something.
This is an example of mine. I want people to sign up for an online course. I also created my cover page photo to show this with an arrow. Many people see this image on a phone, so you will need to make sure it looks centered and works on a phone as well.
Finally, don’t focus on promoting your businesswhen you post.
Instead, focus on entertaining your audience. I use the 70/30 rule – 70% for my audience, 30% promotional… but it’s all brand appropriate. Take a look at this post. I’m not talking about me or what I do. Instead, I’m sharing some nice pictures of a meet-up I did with others in my industry.
And do you see the great engagement and little reach?! 52 people out of 6,400+. (Come on Mark Zuckerberg!)
…and just when I think I’ve got my finger on it, this one gets a higher than an average reach. It’s a video of Mr. Bean dancing for crying out loud!
Don’t get me wrong, I love stock photos. I could look at them all day long. One of my favorite things about blogging is choosing them, but I should focus on them less… and you should too.
It’s no secret using images in branding increases… just about everything – clicks, open-rates, sales, engagement – I could go on.
Photography is very important in branding. Images can say so much more than words. Plus, people are visual. We like to see things! Posts with images get more clicks for a reason. Whether it be for yourself or your business, you need to use images in branding… personal images, not stock photos.
I have some stock photos for branding on my website, social media, and blogs. But do you know what works better? Using your photos for branding.
I’m in the process of updating some of the images on my website, social media, and marketing materials to show my audience more of me and my brand. I recently teamed up with Sally Butanowicz of Timed Beauty in South Florida to get some more personal, branding pictures done. For these pictures, I chose a red dress (because the Media Maven color is red) and two graphic t-shirts (because I love graphic t-shirts) that basically spell out what I do – public relations and blog.
This is why I think you should start saying no to stock photos… not all of them, just some of them:
Your brand’s personality
Even though stock photos are beautiful, they are common. They tell the story of your industry, but not your brand because they don’t show you, your product, your service, your customers, your clients, etc. Pictures say a lot, but personal pictures showcasing your brand say more.
Your marketing materials
People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Because of that, you need to show them that person, whether it be the people behind the brand or the person who is the brand.
There is no competition. Anyone can use a stock photo, but no one can use a picture of you or your business. That’s your brand. It’s what sets yourself apart.
It’s all about the images and this infographic explains it perfectly. (It’s an image. Shocker.)
There are a lot of pains and a lot of gains in the public relations industry. Some things are understood, while others things are not… by both the clients and the media. The business is changing and so are the rules.
I operate my business very transparently. I’m not going to sugar coat things or send false promises your way, so if you want to know some things, sit back… here are eight things you didn’t know about the public relations industry.
It’s not about sending emails. It’s about building relationships. My contacts in the media don’t owe me anything, so I need to maintain good working relationships with them in order to do my job successfully. Luckily, I worked on that side of things for 10 years and have great relationships with people in the industry. True story: I have seen stories turned down because of the less than likability factor of the publicist handling the client, even though the client was a great fit for a story. Also, I have earned many clients publicity after sending a Facebook message to a friend.
Media relations take time. If you want to see results fast, buy an advertisement. If you want to see more meaningful results over time, hire a publicist. Timing is everything when it comes to earned media. Just because it’s not in print today, doesn’t mean it won’t be in three months. Be patient.
We can only lead a horse to water. If you want publicity, that’s on me as a PR professional. But if you are not doing your part as a business owner to get that horse to the drink the water I led them to, there is only so much I can do at that point. For example, if your website needs help, I will refer you to one of the website developers I work with. What you choose to do after that is out of my control. I once had a client who wanted me to promote her business, but her website wasn’t completed yet. If your online store isn’t open for business, what’s the point of media coverage?
Our work never stops. News is a never ending cycle. It’s just about impossible to take a day off. It could mean a missed opportunity. (That’s why when we reach out to you with a question or request for a certain picture, we need it ASAP.)
There is a level of skill and expertise to what we do. I am providing a service that has taken me years to learn through a variety of different experiences. Just because you have a Facebook page or Instagram account does not mean you know how to strategically promote a business via social media. If I had a dollar every time someone told me they didn’t need social media help because their nephew was doing it for them in their spare time…
What you pay for may not be what it seems. Don’t be fooled by the big, beautiful office and fancy website of a well known firm. Many times, the people running the firm won’t even send an email on your behalf. After you pay your retainer, your campaign is given to a low level staffer to do all the work. Make sure you know who is really working on your account.What is published or aired is usually out of our control. Remember, we don’t write the articles or direct the live TV interviews. Instead, we make you look good so other people want to tell the story we’re pitching them. Sometimes, you may not like the way something is written or the way a question is asked. That’s public relations – how someone in the public is perceiving you, your brand, or your business. I once represented a baby product and around National Reading Month. During that time, I used the product to promote reading to infants and included the benefits of doing so. Well, one writer I pitched happened to have a child who was deaf. She did not believe reading to infants was beneficial at all. Needless to say, she didn’t write an amazing review. Sometimes, these things happen.
No one wants to give you a free commercial. It’s your business and it’s your product, so of course you think it’s the best thing since sliced bread and makes a great story… but so does every other entrepreneur. It needs to be more than that to earn media coverage. For this reason, let your publicist guide the process of developing the newsworthy content for the media.
Interested in learning more about public relations? Well, you’re in the right place. Not only do I fill this blog with tons of PR information, but you may love my new online course, Master your PR. It teaches you exactly what to do to earn your brand media exposure without spending big bucks on public relations.
Because of my decade of experience working on-air, then in public relations – I know what works and what doesn’t… and I’m going to share it all with you! I’ve gotten clients featured on the Today Show, the Rachael Ray Show, in the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Men’s Fitness, Food & Wine, Entrepreneur, and much more.
I attribute my success to two things:
Maintaining great relations with colleagues in the media industry
Telling great, newsworthy stories
While, I can’t give you my relationships with media professionals, I can tell you how to start them, build them, and keep them. I can also direct you, so you’re able to find your brand’s story, craft it, and pitch it to the media.
I’ll teach you all of this, step-by-step. By the end of Master your PR, you will know:
How to find your brands story
How to find the correct media, then pitch them effectively
How to talk to the media so you and your brand shine
How to become a regular on TV as a panelist
How to earn yourself publicity as an expert in your industry, and much more
Making an appearance on the Today Show is a dream goal for almost any business or brand. Most of them tell me, “I want to be on the Today Show” within hours of beginning our work together. Then I say, “Yeah, you and everyone else.” (I am very honest with my clients… and I never promise coverage, especially coverage on Today.)
But, I have earned a couple of them coverage on Today and I’m going to tell you exactly how I did it, so you can do it too. Click here to see the story.
Remember, this isn’t advertising. This is public relations… media relations to be more specific. If you want earned media, you need to have a newsworthy story to tell. I like to use the three E’s to determine if a story is newsworthy:
When I started working with Heat Running, a fitness app, I knew I could earn the creators coverage because of the story behind it. It had all of my three E’s. That’s how I earned them coverage – not because of the app. It’s cool, don’t get me wrong, but so are thousands of other apps out there. The story behind the app is even better.
So, you have the three E’s… but let’s focus on that last one. Making something newsworthy also means having a “real person” to interview. Arya, one of the creators, is that “real person” the Today Show was interested in.
Here’s another example. An owner of a jewelry store in Boca Raton, where customers can come in and make their own jewelry, wants media attention for her business. After talking to her to find a story, we found one: Moms were coming in to make their own jewelry for fun, but some turned it into their own at-home business and became entrepreneurs. It all started at this store, so obviously the store would be mentioned and hopefully, the owner would be interviewed, but the story wouldn’t be about the jewelry store or the owner. It’d be about that “real person.” That “real person” is usually where the emotional aspect comes into the story… and it is much needed!
I earned Heat Running coverage on the ABC station in their local market of Washington DC. I also earned them coverage in Men’s Fitness, Women’s Running, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and others… all in three months.
From those media hits, came others – like Today. I also put the creators in touch with an interested writer at Runner’s World, so expect to see something there soon. Getting in this magazine was another big goal for my client, so it feels great to make it happen… even if it’s seven months after I originally pitched them. (Yes, PR takes time.)
To be honest, I never cared too much about National Small Business Week. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. But now I’m a small business owner, so FYI, it’s the first week of May.
I’m a big fan of small business news and WalletHub has just released the best small cities to start a business… and one is just a hop, skip, and a jump from where I started my public relations firm in Coral Springs. WalletHubs data set ranges from “average growth in number of small businesses” and “prevalence of investors” to “office-space affordability” and “corporate taxes.”
So, the top 10 best small cities to start a business are:
10. Deerfield Beach, FL (right by me!)
9. Cheyenne, WY
8. Dothan, AL
7. Clearfield, UT
6. Inver Grove, UT
5. La Vergne, TN
4. Jefferson City, MO
3. Brighton, NY
2. North Chicago, IL
1. Holland, MI
Another fun fact: I’m also very close to Miami Beach, that has the highest number of startups per 100,000 residents, 246. That is seven times higher than in Salisbury, Md., the city with the lowest, 35.
I think any business owner, brand, or marketer would love to have a great publicist in their corner. The problem? It’s costly and many businesses just do not have the budget. So, what do you do when you can’t afford PR? You do it yourself, right? Well, there’s another problem.
How can you master your PR if you don’t really know what to do? Sure, you know a thing or two. It can’t be too hard to make some phone calls or send an email here or there in-between other daily work tasks. Actually, there is a lot to it… good thing I’m here to help!
When I’m not acting as a publicist, I’m teaching business owners, brands, and marketers how to do their own PR. Now, I’m sharing my decade+ of experience in the media industry with all of you… well, everyone online at least. Check out Master your PR. This is an online course that covers everything! Want to try a bit for free first? Send me an email at Christina@MediaMavenAndMore.com.
And I mean ev-er-y-thing. I get into how to find your brands story, who to pitch it to, how to handle a crisis situation, how to get a ROI by using social media, and I even tell you personal stories about how I’ve earned brands major media exposure. With that, comes some videos, worksheets, and checklists to help you along.
Here are five tips on using video to market your business:
Consider your audience. You need to make sure the promotion is relevant to your audience. If it’s not, you’re wasting your time.
Tell a story. This is a big one, because so many brands want to promote instead of telling a meaningful story. A great story will get you further and will make for an even better commercial. Take a look at this video I did for Doral Buick GMC. It was so much fun and I think it comes across onscreen.
Promote it. It should hit your website first, then, social media! This is where social media is key. It’s the best platform to share your work with current and potential future customers. Depending on the outlet, you may get :15, :30, etc., so keep that in mind when posting. I’ve even created a series of videos just for those outlets because of time constraints. On Facebook, I posted this video to my fan page and pinned it to the top. That ensures a wider reach. (Click here to read more on the importance of social media.)Keep it short. I don’t think anyone has the attention span to watch something longer than two to three minutes. There is just too much for us to see online. We are at the hands of information overload, so we need to tell stories with emotion while entertaining and educating fast. (It’s why video is the best!) Here is another video I did that includes all of those things in just 30 seconds.
Sidenote: The only time a video entertained me for a long period of time recently (13 minutes) was this one. Watch it. It’s too funny.
Create a call to action. Someone just watched the recording you created, now what? Make sure your website, phone number, email address, coupon code, whatever is accessible when the video ends. If not, what was the point?
Let’s be honest, we all waste a lot of time. I’m sure many of you reading this hate meetings for this reason. If it’s an hour long, I’d bet about 10 minutes of it was productive. Then, there is the meeting to talk about the meeting. I could go on. If you haven’t noticed by now, I love finding ways to be more productive.
Here are my top six ways to increase productivity:
I stopped commuting.
To me, it makes no sense to spend time sitting in rush hour traffic, twice, to sit in front of a computer at work all day. Obviously, this pertains to me working at a public relations firm. When I was a TV reporter, commuting was essential. That’s not a job that can be done from home. But many jobs can be done from home in front of a computer. When I didn’t spend time getting presentable for public and commuting to work, I gained an additional 2-3 hours a day. Now, that’s productive! Want even more details? Click here to read my article in Fast Company.
I have a to-do list.
And it is detailed. I am very organized, so I actually have two to-do lists – one in general with no deadlines, and one more immediate with deadlines. I make sure it’s ready to go before I start working, so when I’m ready to begin no time is wasted. (Yes, that means you have to work a little bit on Sunday night, but it’s worth it Monday morning!)
I eliminate distractions.
I used to leave all the tabs on my computer open. When I would see an email flashing in one, I would stop what I was doing, open that email, and deal with it. It may have taken two minutes of my time, 20 minutes, or even more. Then, I would go back to what I was originally doing. Not only is this inefficient, but it’s also a great way to get off track. Instead, I give myself a task to do – with those tabs closed and my phone face down. I don’t want to see it light up with a notification! Unless it’s a life saving emergency, which I’m sure it’s not, it can wait.
I work when it works.
For some reason, I’m more productive at night. Some people are great in the morning. I’m good in the morning, but great at night. Around 3pm-7pm, I’m distracted and just in need of a break, so I work when it’s best for me. But some days, I’m great at that time. It really just depends on what’s going on in my life that day personally and professionally. I am a firm believer that not everyone needs 40 hours a week to do their job and not everyone needs to do it between the hours of 9am-5pm. If that were the case, what a coincidence that would be!
I schedule everything.
Like, ev-er-y-thing. And I set reminders. This helps me plan out my day, week, and month. If you know what is happening, you will be more productive because you have a plan to follow. Use working out for example: If you say, “I’m going to the gym this week” you probably won’t go or you’ll put if off. If you say, “I’m going to the gym Tuesday morning at 9:30” you will probably go because it is a scheduled plan.
I get to the point.
I don’t want someone to take up my time by sugar coating and beating around the bush… and I’m impatient. I’d much rather prefer someone just get to the point, so that’s what I do. It’s also a great way to get rid of any confusion! When people know you are a straight shooter, they are more trust worthy and you know you won’t be playing a guessing game. In business, that is a must!
Finally, since I brought it up, my advice on getting out of a meeting: Take that list of things to do and devote the meeting time to getting it done. Tell your boss and ask someone to brief you on what was discussed. That = productivity!
Do you want to promote your brand? You can! Sign up for my online course to learn how you can promote your brand by doing PR yourself. Click here to master your PR. Want to try a bit for free? E-mail me at Christina@MediaMavenAndMore.com.