national coverage

How to prepare for Soulful PR for Starters

Enrolling in an online course a big investment of your time and money. To get the most out of the experience, preparation is vital.

There is nothing more annoying than starting a course then finding you can’t find the materials or haven’t got enough time to complete the activities

With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about preparing for Soulful PR for Starters, which opens again in March. 

1.Set up a dedicated email folder for Soulful PR for Starters

Redirect any mail relating to Soulful PR for Starters to the folder, so you can find emails relating to the course easily - including your login details for the members’ area (these will be emailed to you when the course starts officially).

Whitelist my email address (i.e. add it to a safe list of emails) to ensure they don’t end up in spam. The method for doing this will vary according to your email provider, but if you Google ‘how to whitelist an address with [INSERT NAME OF EMAIL PROVIDER]’ you can easily find instructions.

2.Bookmark the learning area (and this post)

Bookmark this post so you can revisit it when you have any questions. We’ll be updating it with more info over the next few weeks.

On the first day of the course you’ll receive your log-in details for the learning area (where the learning materials will be stored). Bookmark this URL when it arrives.

3.Introduce yourself in the members’ area

There is a private Facebook Group for Soulful PR for Starters students. This is the place to pose questions (both to myself and other members) and have conversations.  Do go ahead and introduce yourself to the other students.

4.Join Twitter (if you haven’t already)

Twitter is the social media network where most journalists hang out - and we’ll be making the most of it during the course. So if you’re not already active on Twitter, set up an account and start using it.

If you’re a complete newbie, this article on how to get started with Twitter is a useful guide.

If you want to get more experience of using Twitter, do join my #soulfulprhour Twitter chat on Sunday evenings 8-9pm (BST). If you a complete newbie, read my guide on how to take part in a Twitter chat.

You might also want to follow our Soulful PR for Starters Twitter list.

5.Study the course schedule (and get key dates in your diary)

Spend some time familiarising yourself with the course schedule, including when you’ll receive the learning materials. Soulful PR for Starters is an eight-week course that includes six classes (video lessons of around 30-45 mins long plus related activities). You’ll also get five bonus sessions, which will be published at regular intervals during the course.

Here is an outline of the programme:

Session 1: Setting your intentions

Session 2: Connecting with journalists who are already looking for help with stories

Session 3: Developing story ideas for journalists

Live call 1. Date and time tbc. N.B. NO NEW SESSIONS WILL BE PUBLISHED THIS WEEK

Session 4: Pitching to journalists (including press release writing)

Session 5: Dealing with journalists (including finding their contact details)

Session 6: Maximising your press coverage (how to make each story go further)

Live call 2. Date and time tbc. 

Bonus material will be published at regular intervals during the course.

Bonus modules:

  • Traditional PR for social media managers and marketers (available September 11)
  • Newsjacking (using topical news stories to get media coverage)
  • Dealing with negative comments/criticism
  • 3 x video interviews with editors from Marie Claire, Grazia magazine and the Huffington Post - in which they share their tips on how to get featured in their publications
  • Influencer marketing (an introduction)

6.Do some background reading

If you’re new to PR, it can be a good idea to do some background reading before you start the course. My book, Your Press Release is Breaking My Heart, is a great starting point but is absolutely not compulsory.

As a minimum, I would recommend reading these blog posts:

How to tell your story in the media (without being boring)

How to write emails journalists will actually read

How to connect with journalists on social media (without feeling like a crazy stalker)

If you're new to PR my book is a great starting point but is absolutely not compulsory

7.Consider blogging about your experience

Taking an online course can be overwhelming. There is so much information coming at you, it can be easy to miss things. Reflecting on your experience and setting goals can be a great way to document your progress as copywriter Tarzan Kay does in this review of Marie Forleo’s B-SchoolYou may also be able to turn it into useful content for your own audience.

I’d recommend writing a ‘before’ and ‘after’ blog post. Stating publicly on your blog that you are taking an online course also gives you accountability (telling your audience you’re learning how to get traditional PR coverage means you have to follow through, right?).

8.Block out time for follow up

It’s easy to finish an online course full of brilliant ideas. Sadly, it’s just as easy to get bogged down the minute the course is over, forget everything you’ve learned and not follow up on what you’ve learned. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you by blocking out a few hours (ideally in the week or so after the course finishes) to reflect on what you’ve learned and make a plan to put it into action.

If you haven't yet enrolled in Soulful PR for Starters, you can do so here

 

10 common concerns about enrolling for Soulful PR for Starters

Investing in an online course is a big decision. Not only is there the cost of the training to consider, you’ll also need to set aside time for learning, which might mean taking time away from your business.

It’s natural to worry about whether you’re making the right decision in signing up for an online course (and the consequences of making the wrong choice).

With that in mind, here are some of the most common concerns prospective students raise about joining my Soulful PR for Starters course

If you’re not familiar with Soulful PR for Starters, it’s an eight-week online programme that covers everything you need to know to get high-profile coverage in newspapers, magazines and on radio & TV - for example: understanding what journalists are looking for in a story, writing pitches and press releases, finding journalists’ contact details, helping journalists find you online and a whole lot more.

The course is suitable for small business owners who want to do their own PR. It is also suitable for those who want to offer traditional PR as a service to their clients e.g. social media managers, marketing professionals and PRs.

Concern 1: ‘I’m not ready for PR’

Some prospective students tell me they love the idea of the course - and are keen to get national press coverage for their business - but want to wait until they’re ready to launch a new product or programme.

My advice

It’s never too early to start building your media profile - particularly when you consider lead times on national publications and programmes. Monthly magazines can work up to 3-6 months ahead, weeklies 4-6 weeks ahead, while some TV/radio shows are made up to a year ahead. Wait to learn about PR and you may miss the boat on cracking your ideal publications or programmes. That aside, just because you’re not ready to launch a new product or programme - doesn’t mean you can’t be featured in the press right now (in fact, if you’re running your own business, you absolutely should be). And building relationships with national media contacts now will make it far easier to get PR around your launch.

Concern 2: ‘I’d rather wait until I can afford to hire a PR company to do it for me’

Some prospective students tell me they’d rather put off getting press coverage until they can afford to hire a PR company - usually because they feel they don’t have time to do their own PR (see concern 3).

My advice

Hiring a PR firm could cost you upwards of £300 a day (and much more in many cases). So you’ll need a budget of at least £7.2k a year for just a couple of days support a month. Do you really want to wait until you have that kind of budget to get press coverage for your business?

With the right strategies in place, doing your own PR doesn’t have to be time-consuming. And when you do have the budget to outsource, if you know how to pitch a story, find journalists’ contact details or what to include in a pitch or press release, you’ll be much better placed to make the right hire.

Concern 3: ‘I don’t have time’

Some prospective students tell me they don’t have time to do their own PR. That they are too busy running their business to contact journalists, write email pitches or press releases.

My advice

Getting press coverage can help attract visitors to your website, build credibility and raise your profile both with prospective customers and in your industry - all of which generates leads and sales. So if you can’t make time for activities that generate new customers/clients, you may need to rethink your priorities. You might be busy right now, but if you’re not generating a constant stream of leads and sales, things might look different in a few months’ time.

With the right strategies in place, doing your own PR doesn’t have to be time-consuming. For example, a short email is often easier (and much more effective) than a press release

Concern 4: ‘I’m not a very good writer’

If you don’t have much experience of the media, you may be under the impression that the only way to be featured in newspapers and magazines is by writing the content yourself. Some prospective students tell me they are worried their writing isn’t good enough for PR.

My advice

There are plenty of ways to get featured in newspapers and magazines - without writing the content yourself. In fact, if you contact a journalist with an idea, they’ll generally either interview you over the phone or get you to answer some questions via email.

So if you want to get featured in the press, the only thing you need to be able to write is an email to a journalist. That’s it. You don’t even have to write press releases (unless you really want to).

That said, there are opportunities for you to write for the media e.g. opinion articles or practical ‘how to’ articles that can be great for business. If writing’s not your thing, you can always outsource that part to a copywriter.

Concern 5: ‘I don’t have anything interesting to offer journalists’

Some prospective students tell me they can see how national media coverage could help their business - they just don’t have anything interesting to offer journalists.

My advice

In 16 years of journalism, I’ve yet to come across a business owner who doesn’t have an interesting story to tell or an expert point of view that is helpful to journalists. Doing an online course will help you understand what you have to offer that journalists might be interested in. You’ll also learn about what journalists are looking for in a story (and what they’re not) so you can identify the publications and programmes you should be targeting and the best way to ‘pitch’ your ideas.

Concern 6: ‘I’ll be inundated with orders I won’t be able to fulfil’

A common concern I hear from owners of product-based businesses is that if they get featured in the national press they’ll be inundated with orders they can’t fulfil i.e. they don’t have the stock.

My advice

As much as I’d like to tell you that a single piece of national coverage will make you millions...this is very unlikely to happen. If you have some experience of marketing, you’ll know it takes, on average, around seven or eight touchpoints before a prospective customer buys. PR is just one of those touch points. So the more times a prospective customer sees/hears a mention of of your business or product, the more likely they are to buy. Yes there are always exceptions. But if you happen to be in the minority of businesses that does manage to make a ton of sales off one piece of press coverage, that’s a good problem to have, right? You’re resourceful enough to find a solution.

Concern 7: ‘I sell products rather than offer a service.’

Some prospective students tell me they don’t think the course is right for them because they run a product-based business.

My advice

If you’re looking to get national press coverage for your business this course is relevant for you. The learning materials include strategies and resources specifically aimed at product-based businesses, including examples and case studies. 

In our group coaching calls and private Facebook group I will be able to guide you on the best ways to get media attention for your business - whether you sell products, services (or something else entirely).

Concern 8: ‘I’m not ready to be the face of my business’

Some prospective students tell me they want press coverage of their product or service - but they don’t want to be featured in the media themselves.

My advice

Here’s some tough love: journalists are far more interested in people than products. So unless you’re prepared to step out from behind your logo, your media opportunities will be limited to the odd review and/or product round-up. Investing in a PR course - created by a journalist with 16 years’ experience in the industry (that’s me!) - will open your eyes to other ways you might be able to get your business featured in the press and should help allay your fears about being in the limelight.

Journalists need people like you to help them create content for the publication or programme they work for, so if you’re not taking advantage of this, you’re definitely missing a trick. Learning about how they work and the daily pressures they face will help you feel more comfortable about being featured in the media.

Concern 9: ‘I’m worried about looking stupid’

Some prospective students tell me they don’t think the course is right for them because they don’t know much about PR.

My advice

If you don’t know much about PR this is exactly why you should be learning about it. Soulful PR for Starters students are typically small business owners (of both product and service-based business), social media managers and marketing professionals with one thing in common: little or no experience of PR.

Concern 10: ‘Traditional PR doesn’t work’

Some prospective students tell me they had an article in a newspaper in a magazine - or appeared on radio or TV - but 'nothing happened'. 

My advice

Would you expect your business to blow up after posting a couple of tweets or Facebook updates? Of course not. It's exactly the same with press coverage.

It takes, on average, around seven or eight touchpoints before a prospective customer buys. PR is just one of those touch points. So while you do hear about the odd bit of press coverage that goes viral, for most people it’s more of a slow burn. And like everything else in your business, you need to keep at it. The more times a prospective customer sees/hears about you or your business, the more likely they are to engage with you. So the more press coverage you can gain over a number of months or years, the bigger the impact on your business.

You may have noticed I haven’t included ‘I don’t have the budget’ in this list. That’s because, over ten years of running training courses, I’ve yet to meet anyone who can’t think of ways to fund training they really want/need.

Interested? You can find out more and sign up here.

13 Reasons to sign up for Soulful PR Starters

If you’d like to get featured in newspapers, magazines and on radio & TV, but don’t have the budget to hire a PR firm, there’s no reason why you can’t DIY. But if you don’t have much experience of the media, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Investing in online training can be the quickest way to get up to speed. But enrolling in an online course is a big decision. Not only is there the cost of the course to consider, you also need to think about the time taken away from your business.

With that in mind, here’s 13 reasons to enrol in Soulful PR for Starters.

1. You’ll get a tried and tested course that definitely gets results

Check out this video of Sally Bunkham talking about her experience with the Soulful PR for Starters course...

 

2. You’ll get everything you need in one place (in the right order)

There’s tons of free content online (including on my own blog and podcast) but searching for it - and identifying reliable sources - takes time. Invest in a course like Soulful PR for Starters and you’ll get everything you need in one place, with all the steps you need to take, in exactly the right order. And it’s yours to keep forever.

3. You can learn at your own pace

Enrol for Soulful PR for Starters and you’ll be sent a weekly video lesson and tasks to complete (over an eight week period which includes a reading week in the middle). This means your coursework can be completed when it’s convenient and fitted around your work and life. While you’ll get more out of the course if you work through the materials as they are released (not least because you’ll be able to discuss them with me and the other students in our dedicated Facebook group), if you fall behind, you can simply catch up when it’s convenient. You’ll get lifetime access to the course materials - and all the live content e.g. Q & A calls will be recorded - so there’s no rush.

The learning materials for Soulful PR for Starters are yours to keep, so you can work through them at your own pace and refer back to them at any time

4. You’ll learn what journalists are interested in (from someone who actually knows)

There are plenty of people out there who claim to be PR experts - some of whom have never actually spent time working in a newspaper or magazine office or on a TV/radio show. I’ve spent the last 16 years writing for national newspapers and magazines - and trained hundreds of people to appear on radio/TV - so I know what journalists are looking for and, crucially, what they’re not. So I’ll teach you strategies that actually get you results, so you don’t waste time writing press releases or sending emails to journalists about things they won’t be interested in.

5. You’ll get insider tips on how to find journalists’ contact details - quick

Confused about the difference between a reporter and an editor? A TV producer and a researcher? You’ll learn about the different roles and responsibilities on magazines, newspaper, radio or TV - so you can find exactly the right person to get your ideas in front of - quick. I’ll also share my best hacks on finding journalists’ email addresses and phone numbers - quick.

6. You’ll learn the best way to set out a pitch or press release for a journalist

Not sure how to set out a press release or what to include in an email to a journalist? You’ll learn exactly what information they need from you (and what you can leave out). And you'll get cheat sheets and templates to help you write them fast. 

I’ll also share insider tips on how to increase the chances of getting your email opened, including how to write engaging headlines and email subject headers. You’ll also learn about the best days and times to send your pitches and press releases. 

You'll get cheat sheets and templates to help you write pitches and press releases - fast

7. You’ll find out what to do if a journalist ignores your pitch or press release

You’ll learn exactly how many pitches and press releases journalists get each day and what it might mean if yours gets ignored (and what to do about it). You’ll also learn whether you should chase them up, how long you should leave it before you do and the best ways to go about it (i.e. phone/email).

8. You’ll learn how to help journalists find you (so you don’t don’t have to do all the work)

You’ll learn how to optimise your social media profiles and make effective use of social media so journalists can find you more easily (and you don’t have to do all the legwork). I’ll also share tons of free tools and apps you can use to connect with journalists who are already looking for help with stories - saving you time and money.

9. You’ll get access to exclusive interviews with high-profile journalists

Join Soulful PR for Starters and you’ll get access to exclusive interviews with editors from Marie Claire, Grazia magazine and the Huffington Post - in which they share their tips on what they’re looking for in a story and the best ways to get their attention.

If you sign up to Soulful PR for Starters you'll get personal support from me - both on our live coaching calls and in our private Facebook group

10. You’ll get personal support from me

I’ve signed up to tons of online courses, where the teacher is ‘all in’ on the marketing...then disappears the minute the course starts.

Enrol for Soulful PR for Starters and you won’t be left to your own devices. I’ll be in the private Facebook group every single day answering your questions. You’ll also get the opportunity to attend two live Q & A calls with me and the other students, where you can ask questions and get personal feedback on your pitches.

11. You’ll get honest feedback

I won’t pull any punches. If your ideas are not newsworthy - or I think you’re spending time on something that won’t get you results - I’ll tell you straight, so you don’t waste time on pointless PR activities.

12. You’ll get to learn all of this and more with like-minded souls

Learning with like-minded people is good for you. Not only will you come away from the course with new skills, you’ll also meet people you may want to collaborate with in the future and make new friends.

13. You’ll get help implementing what you’ve learned

One of the frustrating things about online courses can be the lack of follow-up support. That’s why I’ll be holding a live calls for Soulful PR for Starters students so you can check in with me and ask any questions you have. The Facebook group will also remain open so you can keep in touch with me and your fellow students.

Interested? You can find out more and enrol here.

 

Five things you should do after a conference or workshop

Attending conferences or workshops can be exhausting. If you’re anything like me, when you get back home - or back to your hotel - the only thing you’ll feel like doing is putting your feet up, ordering in pizza and watching Netflix.

But when it comes to building relationships, the first few hours and days after a conference or workshops are the most important. Leave it too late to follow up on the connections you’ve made, and you could find you’ve missed the moment.

With that in mind, here’s five things you should do immediately after a conference or workshop.

1.Join in the socials

As my friend Andrew Pickering (one half of the content marketing duo Andrew and Pete) puts it, the best conversations often happen at the bar – after the event. So don’t rush off at the end unless you absolutely have to. Most event organisers now include evening socials (you can find out about the socials at Content Live in our Facebook community) so resist the lure of Netflix and get out there and socialise.

Hanging out with Andrew and Pete at Social Day

2.Follow up on social media

After a day of tweeting, tagging and re-sharing, you may feel like giving social media a miss for a while, but immediately after the event is the best time to follow up with people you’d like to stay in touch with.

Recording a short video/audio message and sending it over via Twitter or Facebook messenger can be a quick way to do this.

If you’re not attending the socials, posting about your journey home and any other reflections on the day will keep you top of mind.

Putting aside some time to go through the social media content that has been created during the day, tagging other guests and speakers into photographs and sharing other useful content will make you more memorable.

If you really want to be remembered, you could create a memento of the day using Storify (which allows you to collect social media updates, pictures, video and audio clips to create a ‘story’ of the day) or make an Adobe spark video.

Don’t forget to use the event hashtag (for the uninitiated, hashtags group together content on the same topic) even after the event has finished. 

Here’s some more ideas on how to use social media to stand out at a live event.  

3.Reflect on your learning

The best time to go through your notes is immediately after the event, when it’s all still fresh in your mind - ideally on your journey home or in your hotel room. Having all of your notes in one place will help you gather your ideas and give you an ongoing reference to go back to when you starting putting what you’ve learned into action. If you work in a team, this will also make it easier for you to feed back what you’ve learned to colleagues.  

We’ve created a smart-looking workbook for  Content Live 2018 to help you keep all your notes in one place.

4.Create a follow-up blog/vlog

Creating a follow-up blog/vlog of the event not only helps you process your learning, it can also help you attract traffic to your website, win new customers/clients and offer value to existing ones.

For more information, read: five reasons to blog about attending a live event.

Like the idea of blogging about your experience, but not sure how to get started? Read: how to write a blog post about an event you’ve attended.

Here's a round up of content guests at Media Influence Live created:

How to win at live events by Catherine France

Why there is an 'I' in invest by Sheila Mulvenney

Why you shouldn't attend any live events this year or ever by Janine Coombes

My Media Influence Live event goals by Lynn Hill

9 tips to choose the perfect handbag for networking and business events by Jennifer Hamley

Why I'm not attending a book-keeping conference by Zoe Whitman

Should I stop networking to save money? by Zoe Whitman

Why should you attend conferences? by Rachel Miller

Do you invest in yourself? by Louise Roberts

5 good reasons to attend a live event by Sheila Mulvenney

How do you invest in a personal development strategy by Nadine Powrie

If writing’s not your thing, you can created a video, like podcasting expert Colin Gray did for his review of CMA Live 2017: 

5.Book your ticket for the next event

Most event organisers offer generous earlybird discounts to guests who book tickets for their next event on the day - or shortly afterwards. So if you enjoyed the event, book your ticket for the next one as soon as you can. 

Tickets are on sale for our next live event, Content Live 2018, and you can currently get the Super Early Bird price.  If you attended my most recent event or are a member of my membership community, you'll also have an "alumni discount code" which gives you the best possible ticket price.  You can get your ticket here.

You can connect with me on Twitter here and on Instagram here.

 

[086] Will your story interest national journalists? Here's how to find out...

When you're launching a new product or service, it's tempting to think everyone will be interested in your story - including the national media. But you do need to be realistic about what will be of interest to a national audience.

In this episode, I explain how to decide if your story has national potential - or whether it's more suited to the local or industry press.

Here's what you'll learn in this episode:

  • How journalists decide what stories to run
  • What national journalists look for in a national story (and what they don't)
  • The biggest mistake people make when pitching stories to the nationals

Key resources 

How to find out if your story has national potential (includes links to all the examples mentioned in this episode)

Your Year In PR - a media planning masterclass for 2017 on Sep 23

Soulful PR session with Hannah Fearn, opinion editor, the Independent (Nov 23)

Soulful PR session with Andrea Thompson, Features Director, Marie Claire magazine,The Guardian (Dec 15)

The Soulful PR Business Club

MY NEW BOOK Your Press Release Is Breaking My Heart (A Totally Unconventional Guide To Selling Your Story In The Media)

My Soulful PR group coaching  programme (starts Sep 5)

My FREE Soulful PR Facebook Community

What to do next

If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it using the social media buttons at the top of this page.

I’d also love it if you could take a few minutes to  leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on itunes. I read every one personally and may even read yours out on the show.

And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live.

[084] Five things editors would love to say to you

Editors can be frustrating to deal with. They don't always respond to emails and rarely return phone calls, so understanding what they're looking for - and the best way to pitch to them - can be a challenge.

In this episode, I talk about the pressures journalists are under -and their biggest frustrations - so you'll be better placed to give them what they need.

Here's what you'll learn in this episode:

  • The biggest mistake people make when pitching to journalists
  • Why timing is everything in journalism (and what that means for your PR)
  • The one thing that will give you the edge when it comes to getting media coverage

Key resources 

Your Year In PR - a media planning masterclass for 2017 on Sep 23

Soulful PR session with Hannah Fearn, opinion editor, the Independent (Nov 23)

Soulful PR session with Andrea Thompson, Features Director, Marie Claire magazine,The Guardian (Dec 15)

The Soulful PR Business Club

MY NEW BOOK Your Press Release Is Breaking My Heart (A Totally Unconventional Guide To Selling Your Story In The Media)

My Soulful PR group coaching  programme (starts Sep 5)

My FREE Soulful PR Facebook Community

What to do next

If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it using the social media buttons at the top of this page.

I’d also love it if you could take a few minutes to  leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on itunes. I read every one personally and may even read yours out on the show.

And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live.