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Expert Q&A – PR for entrepreneurs

 

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Last Thursday brought on another excellent expert Q&A in the Simply Smart Social community, PR for entrepreneurs with Kerri Walker.

Kerri is the go-to girl for anything relating to the wonderful world of PR, and she kindly offered to pop by and answer all of our questions, helping us reach our own levels of PR success!

Kerri Walker - PR success

How do you research your target hit list of publications?

Personally, I start with a wish list. For me, I’m a visual learner so I have a Pinterest board of media and publication logos to inspire me.

Then I think who would be a good fit for what my business is up to right now. Jump on their websites. If you want to send them an article or guest blog post, check out what other people have written about your topic already. Think of another angle to pitch to them.

Any tips for figuring out who would be the best fit for your business?

I often work backwards with everything. Figure out what I want e.g. podcasts, magazines, radio stations. Then I visualise how I see that e.g. writing articles, speaking in interviews.

Then I contact people I know, Google ‘best business podcasts’ or similar to just do some research. You could always start by approaching people you already know too, as quite a few people in the groups we’re in host guest blogs or podcasts.

Do you have a cheat sheet for HOW to pitch your biz to publications? Is there an etiquette?

It’s amazing how many places have their contact name or details right there for you ready to call and email them.

There definitely is an etiquette. When typing your email subject, don’t just put your story title, write ‘story pitch’ or ‘guest post pitch’ then the topic. That way the recipient know exactly what it is and there’s way more chance of them opening it.

How frequently do you pitch the same media?

I try not to inundate the same press contacts too frequently so as not to annoy them. Much like any contacting really. If you constantly have news for a news desk though you could contact regularly, but if you have a mediocre story then not so much.

How often do you recommend contacting publications? Do you send them your latest blog posts or just a general overviews?

Only send out your press releases and the like when you have something good to say and something newsworthy. I can’t put a time limit on that as everyone different.

It all depends on what you’re pitching for really. You should usually include an intro into why you’re contacting them eg. “I’m wondering if an article about X would be of interest” then follow up with a paragraph briefly describing your background or history, or why you’re pitching to them.

How do you research the readership to select which publications you wish to target, in terms of readership demographics?

Often publications will have their media pack on their website for people looking at advertising with them. It’s either easily available, or you can simply ask them for it. You can also check out their social media profiles to see if have high follower numbers.

How do you become their go-to for ‘expert’ quotes in your field

Again, much like putting yourself forward for articles and blogs etc. it’s a case of researching who you’d love to recommend you as an expert. Start creating a rapport with them now so when they need someone to comment on a story, you’re their go-to gal (or guy).

Regarding quotes, it’s a great alternative to writing the whole article. Saves you a crazy amount of time but still has a huge impact!

Is it worth pitching the same post to different journalists from the same publications? Or is that annoying?

It’s absolutely fine, because they don’t know you’re contacting lots of people. Just be careful not to pitch too many in case multiple people say yes and you only want to work with one.

You can always pitch a topic as opposed to a blog title, that way you can still offer multiple posts if you get a few yes’s.

Should I send existing blog posts to the media, or does the content have to be “exclusive”?

Sometimes people will accept guest blog posts that have been previously published but often they want something exclusive or new. Check with each one to see what they’re looking for. You can always repurpose something you’ve already written and send that in. It’s a new post for the web monkeys but not as much for you to have to create from scratch.

I’ve been invited to host a round table and speak at a networking event….however attendees don’t fit with my target audience so is any PR good or should it be targeted….

Hmm. Well if you have the time and you think you’d gain anything from it, such as hosting experience and networking opportunities, then go for it. If you’ve been invited then they obviously think you’re cool.

If it’s not a fit and you don’t want to network then, there’s no harm in saying no and staying true to your business’s objectives.

Personally, if I wanted to get more speaking experience then I’d do it because you can promote that you’re a speaker and put the events logo on your website too.

I’m a jewellery designer and I’ve just finished my first collection. Any suggestions on what would be interesting areas for me to put forward when approaching a publication for PR?

Your story could work for the right publication. Perhaps pitch yourself to women in business magazines or similar to feature your story.

Otherwise you could write articles for magazines or guest blog posts about perhaps DIY versions of your top selling pieces. Anything that’s just not a direct sales pitch.

How do you reach people that set up podcast and blab interviews?

Maybe start by following them on Facebook and Twitter to see what they’re up to. Or perhaps if you listen to any podcasts then just contact the show host. They need to fill their spots so usually welcome hearing from people.

You could always host your own Blab too! It’s not as much of a commitment as a podcast, so could be a good one off. Maybe invite a few people who compliment your skills to co-host with you.

What can I do to improve my chances with a publisher?

If you mean the pitch itself, I would include everything possible (although keeping it brief, no waffling). Contact details, what you do, your background, any awards you’ve won, recent media coverage, your PR contact (if sending enquiries to someone else). Plus add a headshot and any necessary attachments and a closing or call-to-action of ‘if you want to book me’ etc. so they know what to then do.

Best tips for developing a PR strategy? is there any steps I should be taking so my PR is not lots of isolated events but rather has some flow to it?

A PR strategy can be as crazy complex or simple as you need it. Start off by thinking what PR success actually looks like to you and then work backwards to think about the tasks you need to do to make it happen eg come up with awesome topics to talk about, research speaking opportunities.

Does PR success mean getting featured on TV, radio, magazines, podcasts, a local paper, your local university SU radio, a top industry magazine you love?

Then think about what you love doing, what you hate and what’s a no-no…

  • you will never do public speaking
  • you can’t travel because of the kids
  • you hate to show your face but love audio interviews eg radio/podcasts
  • you don’t have time for interviews but you love writing articles

Incorporate what you love, what you want to be doing, what you absolutely hate and will never do (so no point doing it or researching) and put some notes together and to-dos in the diary!

Would you say we have to plan out our PR far ahead? (From a “best practice” perspective)

If you have something launching or a specific date you’re working to, it’s good to plan some activities in that time. Otherwise you can always just set a small goal of 1-2 things a month. Whatever works for you!

 

Kerri also kindly provided the group with a comprehensive guide to pitching your ideas to the media – jump over and join the group for access. I’d like to shout a huge thank you to this lovely lady for giving us her time (and to all of the group members for bringing it with their questions!)

 

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