5 Common Beliefs Women Entrepreneurs Have about PR (Busted)
Cold hard truth: Women who are in business are also in sales. This requires subtle—yet shameless—self-promotion, PR and news coverage from mass media and online influencers.
The good news is that these days, women entrepreneurs can generate publicity without coverage in traditional media such as print, radio and TV news.
Each of us has social media platforms to share information, stories, tutorials and videos with the world. Today, each one of us has a press pass. The problem is that most women entrepreneurs don’t use this powerful tool to promote and publicize their businesses.
I have my old press passes from my days as a radio news reporter in New Jersey. It’s time for you to step up and take full advantage of your press pass—your social media channels and networks.
Let’s debunk five myths that I often hear from women entrepreneurs about PR:
Myth #1: Self-promotion is obnoxious. Yes, conceit and self-promotion can damage reputations and relationships, but subtle storytelling that helps potential customers solve their problems is a must. When you replace arrogance with humility, self-promotion takes on an entirely new feel and tone. In fact, when you’re really good at it, people won’t even consider it as self-promotion.
Myth #2: PR is expensive, and I can’t afford a publicist. Maybe I’ll advertise instead. PR may have been pricey before social media came along, but when you discover the tactics and techniques that you can maximize for free (the only resource you use is time), you’ll quickly understand that publicists aren’t necessary to get publicity. Advertising is an entirely different animal that’s perceived as one-sided marketing. It’s common knowledge that anyone with a bank account can pay for a spot on TV or radio, in the newspaper or on various websites. Instead of paying, consider how storytelling and word-of-mouth advertising (both are free!) can help grow your business, community and network.
Myth #3: I wouldn’t even know where to begin…and, anyway, I don’t have a story to tell. Everyone has a story to tell, including you. Consider this example: I was doing PR for a commuter ferry service in New Jersey and New York. The business editor at a daily newspaper wanted to feature a rank and file person from the company. I was told “Captain Mark”’ would be ideal for the coveted story, but I also learned he is quite shy. During our initial phone call, I got a lot of pushback from this humble man. “I don’t have a story to tell, I ride the boat from New Jersey to Manhattan, that’s it. The water is very calming.” As I built rapport with Captain Mark, I nonchalantly asked what he had done before joining the ferry company five years earlier. He replied: “I sailed around the world twice on a private yacht.” And there is the story. Captain Mark didn’t think it was a big deal because it was his life. But indeed, he had a fabulous story to share. You do, too. It just has to be uncovered.
Myth #4: Reporters are difficult and mean. If I had their contact information, I’m not sure I would even want to reach out to them. Yes, professional journalists can be abrupt—and some can be rude. However, most are looking for reliable sources and solid stories. These folks would welcome a well-crafted pitch from someone who is prepared and knowledgeable. With a little insight and some legwork, you can be that person. The first step is to determine if your story is newsworthy. Frame your story in a way that clearly reveals why it’s valuable and relevant to people other than your family and friends. The second step is to look at a media newsroom contact page online and see which reporter covers your topic. Third, read their last few stories or assignments, and send them a brief (1-3 sentence) email with a captivating subject line. The secret is to “spoon-feed” the reporter what they are looking for so they don’t have to expend much time and energy to get a story that resonates with readers.
Myth #5: My business is local; social media and big-time PR placements won’t be a good fit. Granted, you may not want to promote your business in Kansas City or Calgary if your hair salon or neighborhood food delivery service is in Pittsburgh. Still, you can use Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to generate publicity. User-generated content is a convenient and popular way to build brand awareness. This tactic has “regular people” taking selfies or posting pictures and videos on your behalf. Meteorologists do this by asking their audience to email pictures from a storm or weather event. The “everyday person” who had their picture or video posted brags to their network of peeps, and the link is spread organically.
PS: If you want to gain influence and build your audience, I’ve created a free cheat sheet for you. Download it now: “My Proven 8 Step Process to Being a Guest Blogger.” Get it now!