what journalists want

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.

 

[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.

How to find out if your story idea will interest national journalists

Getting featured in national publications and programmes can be a powerful way to promote your business.

But I see so many business owners wasting time pitching stories to national journalists that are far more suited to local or industry titles.

So how can you tell whether your story idea has national potential? And if it doesn’t, is there anything you can do to get national journalists interested in featuring your business?  Read on and find out…

New values

If you want to understand what kind of stories journalists are interested in, you need to understand news values. These are the factors that help journalists decide what stories get covered and how much prominence they are given in their publication or programme. News values will differ from publication to publication (or programme to programme) and between different types of media i.e. local, industry and national.

Depending on which expert you read on the subject, there are up to 20 different news values, but to keep things simple, I’m going to focus on three.

Relevance

Wondering if you’re story has national potential? Imagine a map of your local area with a red line around its boundaries (even better, print one out and draw it on). Would people outside that red line care about your story? Would it be relevant to their lives?

Let’s say you run a fitness business, for example. You’ve recently launched hula hooping exercise classes in four different venues in your local area. Clearly this is not going to be relevant to someone who lives at the other end of the country, so this is a local story.

Maybe you run a financial planning business and have recently won a prestigious industry award. While this is a great achievement, is someone from outside your area (or the sector you work in) really going to be interested in reading about someone they’ve never heard of winning an award they’ve never heard of? Probably not. While this might make a nice ‘local person done good’ item in a regional title, it’s probably not going to be of interest to the nationals.

Or perhaps you run a local business networking group and you’re celebrating your fifth birthday. You’ve grown from 50 to 500 members and now have branches in 15 different locations in your county. While this is impressive, why would anyone outside of the area care?  It might be an interesting case study for people who’d like to start their own networking group - but in a publication aimed at business owners, not in a national.

Imagine a map of your local area with a red line around its boundaries. Would people outside that red line care about your story?
Imagine a map of your local area with a red line around its boundaries. Would people outside that red line care about your story?

Unexpectedness

I speak to so many authors who think publishing a book is enough to make national news. But with more people publishing books than ever, it really isn’t such a big deal (and I say that as an author myself).

But what if your self-published book has made you a millionaire? That’s exactly what happened to thriller writer Adam Croft, which is why his latest book Her Last Tomorrow was featured in the Guardian. Adam’s story is both unusual and unexpected, which is why it made national news.

Jen Lindsey-Clark’s work made national news when she created a chocolate 'Cumberbunny' featuring the actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s face - and sent it to his mum for Easter. The chocolatier from Brighton, who has also made a life-size version of the British actor, got national coverage because her work was unusual.

And you can’t get much more unusual than a restaurant where customers dine in the nude, which is why the first naked restaurant couldn’t fail to attract the interest of national journalists.

It’s worth pointing out here that local publications and programmes also look for the unexpected - particularly something that’s unusual for the local area e.g. the first ‘pay what you want’ restaurant or  ‘men only’ beauty bar in a particular town, for example. But to make the nationals, it usually needs to be exceptionally surprising or a real ‘first’.

Chocolatier Jen Lindsey-Clark made national headlines when she made a life-sized version of the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch
Chocolatier Jen Lindsey-Clark made national headlines when she made a life-sized version of the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch

Divisiveness

It sounds obvious, but to make national news, your story has to be something people will actually care about (beyond those in your local area that is). And stories people care about are often divisive.

Online gym owner Julia Buckley got national coverage when she decided to start taking a £50 deposit from new clients, which would only be refunded if they lost weight and/or inches. Her theory that the fear of losing money gives people an added incentive to stick to a healthy diet and exercise plan is one not everyone will agree with. 

The Keery brothers’ cereal cafe got a lot of national attention when it opened in the East End of London -and not just because it was an unusual concept. Selling bowls of cereal for £3.50 in a deprived area of the city also attracted criticism, along with protests and vandalism, which meant it attracted plenty of national media coverage.

And cafe owner Lawrence Lavender has been all over the national press in his native Canada for selling a Trump sandwich’,  inspired by the US presidential election candidate Donald Trump and advertised as being ‘full of baloney’ . The story has divided the public, offending Trump fans and delighting his critics.

This is not to say you should intentionally set out to be outrageous or provocative in order to get national media coverage (and I don't think any of the business owners I mention above did either). But if you’re wondering why journalists aren’t interested in giving column inches or airtime to your new jewellery range, event planning service or exercise classes, this is what you're up against. 

And do remember that ‘news’ is just one type of media coverage. If you’re looking to get featured in the national media, there are plenty of other ways to go about it (that can be more beneficial for your business). For example:

1.Thought leadership: offering your expertise on ‘hot’ news stories - both by supplying comments to journalists (both in print and on air) and writing opinion articles for newspapers and magazines. Writing articles for the Huffington Post on Danish life has helped Copenhagen based relocation consultant Melanie Haynes attract clients and further national coverage.

2.Teaching: there is a growing appetite in the national media for ‘how to’ content where you share knowledge and/or help people learn a skill. I’ve written a whole series of articles for the Guardian on how to get media coverage and this article on how to write a press release has sent a lot of business my way.

3. Storytelling: sharing personal stories about the parts of your life that intersect with your business can be a powerful way to promote what you do. This article on how being an expat inspired her to start a business has won Melanie Haynes eight new clients.

And one last tip for you...don't be fooled by celebrities! Many business owners assume that getting a celebrity involved in a press launch will automatically guarantee them national coverage. Remember that celebrities do this kind of thing all the time, so unless they are going to be doing or saying something interesting (think Angelina Jolie's human rights activism!) their mere presence at your launch event is unlikely to interest the national press.

[045] How to use the media to reinvent your personal brand with Sarah Newton

Ten years ago, youth coach Sarah Newton had her own TV show, book... and national journalists lining up to feature her in their publications and programmes. But the experience left her feeling inauthentic - as if she was an actor playing a character rather than being herself.

Sarah turned away from the media - and her work with young people - for several years. But she has recently made a comeback. And this time round, she's determined to take control of her own media persona. Her tenaciousness has paid off; over the past few months, she's secured coverage in the Guardian, Daily Mail, Huffington Post, Mail on Sunday and a host of regional publication and programmes.

In this episode, she shares her tips and strategies on using the media to reinvent your brand.

Here’s what's covered in this episode:

  • Sarah's business story: from policewoman to youth coach to author & TV personality
  • Why Sarah took a two year break from the media
  • How Sarah has used the media to reinvent her personal brand and promote her new book
  • Why Sarah decided to do her own PR rather than hiring a company/consultant
  • Sarah's tips on getting national coverage - and staying positive when you're getting knockbacks(or being ignored) by journalists

Key resources and links

Sarah's website

Sarah on Twitter 

You can do your own PR with Melanie Haynes (Episode 11)

My next Soulful PR Group Coaching Course which starts in April 2016

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.

[044]Three PR gaffes you probably don't even know you're making

Using contact forms on your website or social media autoresponders can seem to make sense for your business. Not only does it save time, it can also help you separate window shoppers from people who are genuinely interested in working with you.

But when it comes to PR, these kind of strategies can be bad news for your business. In this podcast episode, I explain why.

Here’s what I cover in this episode:

  • How using contact forms on your website can reduce your chances of media coverage
  • Why Twitter autoresponders can be a turn-off for journalists (and potential clients)
  • What using email autoresponders tells people about you and your business

Key resources and links

Tropical Think Tank 

Why you need to build a personal brand with Chris Ducker (episode 19)

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.