PR advise

Eight common concerns about attending Your Year In PR

Thinking about attending Your Year in PR but can’t make up your mind? I get it.

It’s perfectly natural to worry about whether you’re making the right decision to attend a conference or workshop.

It’s not just about the ticket price. On top of the cost of your ticket, you may also need to budget for travel, accommodation, food - and time spent away from your business. So you need to be sure you’ll get a return on your investment.

With that in mind, here are some of the most common concerns small business owners raise about attending Your Year in PR - and the advice I offer.

If you’re not familiar with the event, Your Year in PR is a media planning masterclass. It’s your chance to dedicate a day planning out the content for your blog/vlog (if you have one), social media, email marketing and press activities for the whole of 2018. You’ll learn strategies you can use to generate ideas, re-purpose content and schedule well ahead of time - so you’ll never be stuck for ideas again. If you want to create content that attracts more likes, comments and shares, you can stay on for a second day of training that focuses on creating shareable content that will help you make more sales in your business

Concern 1: ‘I can’t afford it ’

Some prospective delegates tell me they love the idea of the event - and would attend if they could - but can’t afford it.

My advice

If this sounds like you, the first thing you need to do is change your mindset. Instead of saying ‘I can’t afford it’ ask yourself ‘‘what could I do to make it affordable?’

If you’re reading this post, you’re an entrepreneurial sort. So if you really want to attend an event, I believe you’ve got what it takes to figure out how to get yourself there. Here’s a list of ten things you can try to raise the money to attend a live event.

Try them and let me know how you get on.

Concern 2: ‘I can’t afford to take time away from my business’

Some prospective delegates tell me they love the idea of the event - and think it could be really beneficial - but can’t spare the time away from their business. This is particularly common in product-based business owners, who are often at their busiest in the run up to Christmas.

My advice

Are you really so busy that you can’t spare a day to invest in the long-term health of your business?  Could you put in a few extra hours on a weekend or in the evenings to make up the time - or outsource some tasks that would free you up to attend?

It’s great to be busy, but if you’re firefighting at the expense of promoting your business, in a few months time, you may find you’re short on clients.

When you run a seasonal business, it’s easy to tell yourself that quieter periods are the norm - but it doesn’t have to be the way. Taking time out for some strategic PR planning could help ensure you’re busy all year round - not just at Christmas.

Concern 3: ‘I’m afraid I won’t have time to implement what I learn’

A common concern I hear from owners of prospective delegates is that they won’t get time to implement everything they’ve learned.

My advice

Taking some time out of your normal routine is bound to leave you buzzing with ideas. But once you’re back at your desk, there’s a risk you’ll get bogged down in the day-to-day running of your business and not put into practice 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 event ) to reflect on what you’ve learned and make a plan to put it into action.

If you come along to Your Year in PR, you’ll also be invited to take part in a live follow-up call with me in January 2018, which will give you accountability and a chance to ask questions about what you’ve learned.  

Concern 4: ‘I sell products rather than offer a service.’

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

My advice

If you’re selling products online, you need to be publishing regular content - ideally on a blog/vlog, on social media and via email - so you can build relationships with prospective customers and attract them to your website (or wherever you’re selling your products). Creating a content schedule - so you know what you’re going to publish, when and where - will keep you consistent, accountable and ensure you never run out of ideas. It will also save you tons of time.

Concern 5: ‘It’s not the right time for me’

Something I hear a lot from prospective delegates is: ‘I love the idea of this event but I don’t think it’s the right time for me. I’m too busy working on my website/I’m building up my client base/I’m not ready to be the face of my business.’

My advice:

A bit of tough love: if you’re selling your products/services online you need to be publishing regular content - ideally on a blog/vlog, on social media and via email - so you can have conversations with prospective customers and attract them to your website. So if now’s not the right time to focus on your content strategy - and make sure this actually happens in 2018 - when will be?

If you’re too busy working in your business to take time out to work on your business I can pretty much guarantee that this time next year you’ll be in exactly the same position as you are right now - wondering where your next customer or client will be coming from. Do you really want to leave it a year to start making positive changes in your business?

Concern 6: ‘I’m worried the content/delegates aren’t a good fit for me’

Some prospective delegates say they love my content - and the Soulful PR community - but they’re not sure if the content/delegates will be a good fit for them.

My advice:

I’ve tried to give as much information as I can on the sales page - including a list of who I the event is right for (and who I think it isn’t). If you have any other questions...just ask!

It’s really not in my interest to have you at the event if it’s not a good fit for you. I want everyone who comes to have a great experience and I certainly don’t want you to leave negative feedback (!) so if it’s not a good fit for you, I’ll tell you straight. So please feel free to share you concerns and ask anything you like. Email me on [email protected] and I’ll get straight back to you.

Concern 7: ‘I’m worried it won’t work for me’

Some prospective delegates say they love the idea of the event, but are worried my media planning strategies won’t work for them.

My advice:

I can’t give you guarantees.  What I can tell you is that I’ve trained hundreds of people in this approach - and it works (even if you have a product-based business).  The key thing is that this is a partnership. I can share all my best ideas, tips and strategies but if you’re not willing to put in the work to make it happen, you won’t get the results you desire. But if you’re willing to do the work and make media planning and content creation a priority, you will get results.

Concern 8: ‘I won’t know anyone else attending’

If you haven’t been to a Soulful PR event before, you may feel worried about not knowing anyone.

My advice

Walking into a conference hall can be intimidating - even when you do know people. That’s why I hold a briefing call ahead of the event where you can ask any questions you have. I have also created a Twitter list and a Facebook group where you can meet other delegates ahead of the event. I’m in the process of putting together a blog post on how to prepare for the event - so when you arrive at the event you’ll already feel part of the family. You can also check out this video to get a feel for what it’s like to attend a Soulful PR event.

I'd love you to join me at Your Year in PR, so if you're ready to get your 2018 PR plan in place, then click here to book your place


What's the point of press coverage?

If you run your own business, you may be wondering if it’s worth bothering with traditional PR i.e. coverage in newspapers, magazines and on radio & TV.

You get that it could raise your profile, but you're not sure how it could impact the bottom line of your business.

Here’s four reasons why you should care about traditional PR.

1.It will boost your credibility

Not everyone gets the chance to be interviewed for the BBC or quoted in a top-selling magazine like Marie Claire or Grazia. So if journalists from those kinds of publications or programmes think it’s worth talking to you - or featuring your products - you must be brilliant at what you do.

That’s what your prospective customers or clients will think when they visit your website and it says (ideally on the homepage) ‘as featured in’ the Guardian, Telegraph, BBC, Marie Claire, Huffington Post….’ (or wherever you have been featured). It will also impress potential sponsors, brands, book publishers, event organisers who are looking for speakers - anyone you’d love to work with, in fact.

And of course you don’t just get to share your media success on your website. Talking about your media appearances on your social media platforms - and sharing photographs, links and cuttings where possible - will also help you spread the word that you’re brilliant at what you do.

Vintage Style expert Kate Beavis has been featured in many national publications, including The Guardian, Elle, Psychologies, Marie Claire & Cosmopolitan,which she believes has raised her credibility. She's also appeared on national TV.

Kate Beavis with Eamonn Holmes from ITV's This Morning, after she appeared on the show

2.It will sends traffic to your website

Being featured in the press often means getting a link back to your website from a more influential site. Not only can this be great for your domain authority (which means you should rank high higher in Google), it will also send traffic to your website.

For example, this article I wrote for the Guardian on how to write a press release (published three years ago) sends tons of traffic my way, as do my other articles for the Guardian on small business PR. This particular article ranks on the first page of Google - above my article on my own blog on the topic.

Relocation consultant Melanie Haynes says this article (published over 18 months ago) on how she built a business out of being an expat in Copenhagen still sends her leads and clients, as does her regular column in the expat newspaper the local dk.

Arabel Lebrusan jewellers saw a huge spike in web traffic when this Daily Mail article appeared about an unusual wedding proposal - featuring one of their engagement rings.

Even if you don’t get a link back to your website, if people read an article that features you or hear you on the radio talking about something that interests them, they will ‘Google’ you and head over to your website to find out more.

3.It can help you get clients and customers

If you’re getting more traffic to your website as a result of your press coverage, these are leads you can convert into customers.

Designer and photographer Emma Mapp had a huge increase in orders after her stylish camera bag was featured in the Guardian’s 2016 Christmas Gift Guide. She’s also made sales from her coverage in Stylist and various in-flight magazines.

This article I wrote for PR Week on why I think every PR professionals should spend time in a newsroom before they practice landed me a consultancy job worth around £2k plus dozens of sales of my book. I have even got clients from this piece I wrote about why we need to talk more about miscarriage - proof that people like to do business with people.

Academic Lucy Parsons had a big surge in book sales after her article on how to ace every exam you’ll ever take appeared in the Daily Telegraph. She also got a coaching client directly from the article.

Emma Mapp's camera bag was featured in Stylist magazine resulting in an increase in orders

4.It’s free

A few figures for you:

Cost of a full page advert in a regional newspaper: around £2k/$3k (based on rate card price)

Hiring a PR company £12k/$18k a year (based on three days a month at a modest rate)

Cost of a full page advert in national newspaper £20k/$30k (based on rate card price)

Cost of getting coverage in a magazine or newspaper £0/$0

It gets better; not only is coverage in the media absolutely free, it’s also better for your business or brand. A journalist choosing to feature you because they think their audience will be interested in what you do (rather than because you’ve thrown a wad of cash at them for an advert) will give you far more credibility.

That being said PR is not a quick-fix solution. While you do hear of the odd article that leads to mass sales, for most business owners, PR is a marathon, not a sprint. A one-off feature in a newspaper or radio interview isn’t going to make you millions. But a steady stream of newspaper and magazine articles, and radio & TV appearances over a number of months - or more realistically - years, will help you build credibility and make sales.

If you’re serious about getting PR, you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and put in the ground work. As with anything you achieve in your business, success is rarely the result of a one-off action. It comes from a series of actions you repeat, day after day, week after week, until you get so good at it, you can almost do it in your sleep.

My blog and podcast are full of resources to help. But if you’re keen to get started and don’t want to waste time searching for everything you need,  join my online PR course Soulful PR for Starters.

You’ll be guided, step-by-step through everything you need to learn to get high-profile media coverage for your business. While you’re working through the course, you’ll also get access to me - both in a dedicated Facebook group and on a series of live coaching calls.

Click here if you're ready to learn more about Soulful PR for Starters.

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.

How to get your business featured in a local newspaper

If you run your own business, getting featured in your local newspaper can be a great way to get in front of prospective customers. But how do you go about it? Read on and find out.

1.Read the newspaper

It sounds obvious but if you want to get featured in your local newspaper, you actually need to read it. And I don’t meant a quick flick through; I mean reading it carefully - from cover to cover - so you can get a feel for the kinds of stories it generally covers. Some local newspapers are happy to cover award wins and charity fundraisers, while in others (bigger regional titles, for example) the bar to entry is much higher. Your local newspaper may have a specific business section, where it covers new enterprises, events and launches. It may feature stories on local businesses in the main part of the paper. You’ll only find out if you invest the time in reading it carefully.

Although it’s tempting, please don’t skip this part. Taking the time to understand what kind of stories your local newspaper will be interested in - and what it definitely won’t - will save you tons of time in the long run.

2.Develop some story ideas

Once you’ve read your target publication carefully, it’s time to start thinking of ideas. But instead of thinking about the story you want to tell - consider the kinds of stories your local newspaper usually runs - and what you could offer that might be a good fit. While every publication is different, as a general rule of thumb, most are interested in stories that that will matter to local people. So before you pitch an idea, ask yourself whether the guy who runs your corner shop, the local bus driver or the retired school teacher who lives at the end of your road would actually care  about your story. If not, you may need to go back to the drawing board.

Do remember that the fact your business exists, is not a story. To capture a journalist’s interest, you generally need to be doing  something interesting: hosting an event, raising money for charity or launching something new, for example. And the more unusual or unexpected it is, the more chance you’ll have of getting coverage.


Who will succeed local dog Ginger to take the Nose of Tralee Title

Why did this story make the news? It’s unusual, quirky and will appeal to local dog owners who may consider entering their own dog into the competition.

Mum sets up scholars programme for disadvantaged teens

Why did this story make the news? Local person helping other local people - a strong angle for a local newspaper.

Meg’s getting into the zone with her adult colouring book success

Why did this story make the news? Local person ‘done good’ - often a winning combination in a local newspaper.

Henry hoovers marry in Belfast electrical shop to celebrate Irish referendum

Why did this story make the news? Unusual, quirky and controversial.

Teenagers novel aims to make girls feel body positive

Why did this story make the news? Unusual (teenager publishing novel, written with her mum), controversial and also a local person ‘done good’.

3.Be aware of timing

When you contact a journalist with a story idea, the first thing they will ask themselves is: ‘why do people need to hear about this now?’ (or next week or next month - depending on when you approach them). And journalists generally aren’t interested in ‘old’ news. So it’s no good contacting a local journalist about an event you held last week or a trip you took last month - get in touch in advance.

While there are no hard and fast rules, weekly publications tend to work a week ahead and dailies a day or two ahead, but some plan further in advance (this is usually referred to as the lead time).  Don’t try and second guess this kind of information; if in doubt, pick up the phone and ask.

As well as finding out how far your target publication works ahead, it’s a good idea to find out its press day (usually the day prior to publication) although do bear in mind that many local newspapers now have a strong online presence and may publish stories at any time. The more you understand about how things work on your local newspaper, the better.

4.Source journalists’ contact details

If you want to increase your chances of getting a ‘yes’, finding out the name and email address of the person who can make (or get) a decision about whether to run your story can be a smart move. If you’re pitching an idea for a news story (a short 3-400 word article) this will generally be the news reporter or news editor. If you’re pitching a longer, more in-depth feature or interview it’s more likely to be the features editor.

Many publications list contact details for journalists and email addresses are sometimes included. If not, you can usually work out the email format by looking at addresses that are listed (advertising sales contacts usually are).

Most journalists can be found on Twitter in a few clicks. Read more about how to find journalists’ contact details here.

Steer clear of generic email addresses (e.g. [email protected] or [email protected]) as, in many cases, these are not checked regularly. And don’t be fobbed off by people who say they will forward your press release or email to the journalist or editor concerned. Make it your mission to get the name and email address of the person who can make/get a decision about whether to use your story or not.

If it doubt, just ring up and ask. And don’t take it personally if people are bit short on the phone, as newsrooms are busy places. Ask nicely and you should get the information you need.

5.Write an email pitch or press release

First off, please don’t send a pre-written article, as these rarely get published. Instead, send a press release or email pitch outlining your idea. If a journalist is interested they will either interview you and write up the piece themselves or (depending on the type of article) ask you to write it up to their brief.

Local newspapers are often short-staffed, so a well-written press release, with all the relevant information may be printed with very few changes. Learn how to write a press release for your small business here.

If you don’t have the time to write a press release, please don’t let that put you off suggesting a story idea. A short email pitch, that explains your idea in a paragraph or two, can be just as effective. Learn how to write an email pitch for a journalist  here.

If you’re not confident in your writing skills, consider outsourcing the job to a freelance writer. Most have websites, so a Google search of writers in your local area should throw up some possibilities. Look for someone with a background in journalism as they will also be able to give you feedback on whether your story will grab journalists’ attention (and, if not, suggest tweaks that will make it more newsworthy).

6.Consider your email subject header

Most journalists get hundreds of email pitches and press releases every day - many of which remain unopened, so a compelling email subject header is vital.

An email header that includes the phrase ‘story idea’ and a compelling one-liner that describes your story is more likely to get a journalist’s attention.

It’s fine to pitch ideas over the phone too, by the way. Just avoid obviously busy times (like press day) and have an email pitch or press release to send if you’re asked (most journalists will).

7.Be prepared to follow up

If a journalist is interested in your story, they will generally get back to you within a day or so. But in a busy newsroom, stories can get missed, so don’t be afraid to chase up pitches or press releases by phone or email. If you’ve chased a few times and you’re not getting anywhere, it’s probably safe to assume the journalist is not interested and offer it elsewhere.

It’s fine to offer the same story to different programmes or publications - as long as you’re upfront about what you’re doing. Bear in mind that there can be rivalry between different publications - even on different sections of the same newspaper. While it’s tempting to go after as much press coverage as possible, if a journalist who wants to cover your story sees it somewhere else (particularly before theirs is due to run) they won’t be very happy with you. And it’s never worth risking a relationship for short-term gains.

8.Be persistent

Securing press coverage isn’t always easy. Building a media profile can take months - or even years - so don’t be disappointed if you’re not successful immediately. Some journalists will ignore your press releases and pitches completely. Others will knock back your ideas - over and over again. But if you’re persistent, consistent, willing to learn from your mistakes (and you will make them), you will get there in the end.

9.Stand your ground on advertising

Journalists should report the news in a fair, unbiased way - which means covering stories based on their merit. Sadly, I’m hearing more and more reports of small business owners saying they have been told their story will only be published in their local newspaper if they pay for advertising. Please be reassured that if your story has been selected on editorial merit, there is no obligation whatsoever to take out advertising with the newspaper (although you may decide to do so of your own accord, which is quite a different matter). If a reporter is insistent that you pay for advertising, you may want to raise the matter with the editor (who might need reminding of the National Union of Journalists’ code of conduct).


Why not join my free 10 Day PR Challenge?  Click here to get involved. 


[088] How your brand story can help you get PR

There is only so much journalists can write about your product or service, so unless what you offer is really unusual and/or you're creating regular updates, there isn't really anything for them to say. So when it comes to getting regular media coverage, having a strong brand story can help a lot. 

In this episode I explain, what a 'brand story' is and how having one can help you get coverage in newspapers, magazines and on radio and TV.

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

  • Why journalists aren't interested in helping you promote your business (and what this means for your PR)
  • How sharing personal stories can help you promote your business or brand
  • Why showing what you know through 'how to' articles can be far more powerful than any advert

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.

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How to get PR for your product launch

Getting coverage in newspapers, magazines and on radio & TV, can be a great way to promote your new book, product or service. But what’s the best way to contact journalists with ideas? Should you send a pitch or a press release (or both?) and how far ahead of your launch should you get in touch? 

If you’re serious about about getting media coverage, you need to start your PR campaign weeks - if not months - before your launch. Monthly magazines can work 3-6 months ahead, weeklies 5-6 weeks ahead and some radio/TV programmes are made as much as a year ahead. So, if in doubt, always pitch earlier than you think you need to. It’s far better to have a journalist come back and say ‘this is interesting, but can you try me again in a couple of weeks’ than miss out completely.

The other thing to bear in mind is that sending a press release to a bunch of journalists is both the most common - and least effective - way to get press coverage around a launch. Essentially, it's like throwing a pack of playing cards up in the air and hoping they land where you want them to. Some might, but most won't. And do you really want to leave your PR to chance? 

To give yourself the best possible odds of getting press coverage, you need to take a much more strategic approach. So here’s five things you can  do to to generate press coverage for your next launch. 

1.Invite journalists to review your product/service

Sending out a press release  (or even just an email) to journalists inviting them to review your product or service - along with a sample - is one strategy you can use to get media coverage.

Sadly it's often the least effective and here’s why.

Journalists get sent tons of press releases - along with samples and review copies - every single day of the week. During a brief stint at a parenting magazine, I couldn’t believe the amount of stuff that was sent to the office each day: books, beauty products, pushchairs, car seats...the office was teeming with the stuff. At another publication I worked on, review copies of books were used to prop up wonky table legs and beauty samples often ended up in the staff loo. The Guardian holds ‘swag sales’, where free stuff is gathered up and sold to raise money for charity. So it doesn't matter how amazing your product is, there are no guarantees it will hit the right person's desk at the right time. 

It’s also worth bearing in mind that many publications and programmes plan weeks or months ahead, which means your product can be 'old news' before it even arrives in the office (and journalists hate 'old news'). At a recent event I held in London, the features editor of Psychologies magazine explained that editorial themes were decided months in advance (which is typical of women's glossy magazines). So it doesn't matter how brilliant your new handbags are, if your target publication isn't 'doing' handbags over the next few months, you're not going to get a look in. 

This doesn't mean you shouldn't try to secure product reviews - you absolutely should - but do be aware that it's a scattergun approach, so it's a numbers game. And this is probably the only time you'll ever hear me say something like this... but when it comes to product reviews, the more publications and programmes you can approach, the better.

Do your research first though; some publications don't do product reviews, so sending a pitch or press release can be a complete waste of your time. And don't discount bloggers; getting reviews on popular blogs in your area of expertise may actually be more effective than traditional media coverage. 

While sending a press release can work well for a product launch, do ‘top’ it with a short, tailored email pitch. Not all publications and programmes approach reviews in the same way; some prefer to get their own journalists to ‘road test’ products and write about them, others might have a list of set questions or themes, others might want you to submit some copy. The more you can show that you’ve looked at the publication/programme and thought about how you can help create content that's a good fit, the better chance you’ll have of getting a ‘yes’.

Do be aware that unless your product or service is really unusual or 'disruptive' (e.g. the taxi-hailing service Uber or a novel like 50 Shades of Grey), journalists probably won't be interested in writing a news story on it. But there's plenty of other kinds of media coverage you can go for.

If your target publication isn't 'doing' handbags over the next few won't get a look in
If your target publication isn't 'doing' handbags over the next few won't get a look in

2.Share something interesting

People love personal stories, so instead of pitching journalists about your product, look at the areas of of your life that intersect with your business for inspiration. This is a technique commonly used by authors.  For example, when chick lit author Adele Parks publishes a new novel, you often see a first person article (otherwise known as a 'confessional') in the press - usually on a topic that relates to the theme of her book e.g. being 'divorced' by a friend or being proposed to nine times. At the end of the article there's a big juicy mention of her book and where to buy it.  

3.Teach something  

There's a growing appetite for content that teaches people a concept or skill (otherwise known as 'how to'). For example, Colin was looking for a way to promote his podcasting training and consultancy business. Instead of trying to get journalists to write about his business, I encouraged him to pitch an article to the Guardian's Small Business Network about how starting a podcast can help entrepreneurs promote their business. Bingo.  

Gwen wanted to promote her children's sleep app (which is designed to help kids with their bedtime routine). Instead of trying to get journalists to write about her app, I encouraged her to pitch articles on how small businesses can develop apps (and whether it was worth the investment). She was also successful.

Melanie is a relocation consultant based in Denmark. This Huffington Post article on how to bring Danish hygge into your home (wherever you happen to be in the world) is a great way to show what she knows and promote her business. 

Do bear in mind that you don't necessarily have to be teach something: it could simply be sharing the lessons you've learned from a particular experience (e.g. starting your own business or losing 20 pounds). The key thing is that the audience can (a) relate to your experience (b) take away some actionable points.  

Sharing a personal story can help you get PR for your product launch
Sharing a personal story can help you get PR for your product launch

4.Say something interesting

Pitching opinion articles can be a clever way to get media coverage for your product. Let's say you've written a book on failings in the education system, for example. Pitching an opinion article on something related to the topic of the book can be a great way to get a 'plug' for your product.  

Nathalie - an app developer - successfully pitched an article to a national newspaper arguing that it's easy for women to get on in the tech industry (which is exactly the opposite of what you usually hear on the subject). In it she talks about her own experience - providing an effective (but subtle) opportunity to plug her own app. 

5. Do something interesting

Sadly a launch alone isn't always enough to get journalists interested in covering your new product/service. Holding an unusual event to mark your launch can be a clever way round this problem. Think silent disco or tropical ice-skating (OTT but hopefully you get the picture).  You could even do a survey or commission some research on a topic that relates to your new product or service - like this research on parents taking their children out of school in term time using a tool like Google Consumer Surveys for as little as $100 (thanks to Danny Lynch for that tip).

The key thing to remember is that while journalists (particular on the nationals) may not be interested in writing or broadcasting about your new book, product or service, there are plenty of creative ways to get it mentioned in the media.  So you'll still get your desired outcome - you just need to take a different route. 

Need help writing a press release for your product launch? Sign up for my FREE press release writing course here.