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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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.