Happy New Year my lovely blog reader! We’re blasting off this week with a topic that I’m asked about quite frequently – do you need to have a huge following before going after publicity?
The answer is yes….and no.
It really depends on the opportunity.
When Oprah had her network TV show, it was common for many entrepreneurs to want to go from “zero to Oprah.” This means, if you have never appeared on television or in a national, high visibility media outlet – your chances were slim to none to score that elusive Oprah appearance.
And even if you were a total rock star in your industry with lots of media kudos, it was still almost impossible to get booked on that show.
Getting on the Oprah Winfrey Show was the equivalent to becoming the next A-List star like Tom Cruise or Reese Witherspoon. It only happens to a very small percentage.
The original Oprah Winfrey Show is no longer, but there are so many other amazing opportunities for media coverage that can reach millions of people, a small, niche audience, or anything in-between. Some are easier to obtain than others, and much of this has to do with its reach (number of people that read/watch/listen) or its clout (some smaller outlets – like trade magazines – may have a lot of influence on your brand and, thus, are harder to convince to cover your business).
So how do you know if you’re really ready for publicity?
How is your Media Brand?
Your media brand differs slightly from your company brand. Your media brand is basically the cross-section of what the media covers that appeals to a mass audience and how your business or expertise helps that mass audience. This sounds simple enough, but is usually the area where most entrepreneurs fall short.
Think about how you can help journalists by giving them a great story or providing killer advice for their specific audience. If you have a product-based business, don’t limit yourself to product coverage. Think about how you can emerge by telling your story or doling out advice as an industry expert.
Rid Industry Jargon
If you pay attention to mass media, you’ll notice there isn’t a lot of industry mumbo jumbo. This is so the stories will appeal to a mass audience. Think about how you can speak to audiences in terms they will understand. For example, you may want to talk about advanced biochemical research, but most audiences won’t follow your train of thought, hence – no coverage. How can you make your media brand appropriate for a mass audience?
Craft an Exceptional Public Image
I’m not talking about becoming a beauty queen. Rather, you want all of your marketing to be exceptional – from product packaging to photos to web design. This doesn’t mean you need a ton of fancy schmancy graphics, but it does mean that your public image should elicit a “WOW.” There should be no question that you are the expert/business/product that they can’t wait to feature.
It’s pretty rare that you will get product coverage without letting the media outlet intimately see the quality and/or test the product. This is the only way they can give an accurate review. If you’re worried about sending samples, you can ask for them to be returned unless it is a food product, which they will consume, or a beauty product, which they will likely use. Also realize that the big companies are dropping off huge quantities of full-sized samples for the media to test – so to compete with these companies, create a ‘sample’ budget and expect that you will need to cover the cost + shipping for each outlet you pitch.
For service professionals and experts, you may be asked to give free advice or free consulting to a group of readers, viewers, or listeners as part of the story in exchange for the exposure. It is very rare that you will be paid for this.
Build TV Appearances
Magazine editors don’t care if you’ve been featured in a number of other national magazines (in fact, that could hinder your chances by bragging about your feature in a competing magazine). The one media outlet where you do want to brag about your appearances is TV. Most national shows (Good Morning America, Today Show, Dr. Oz, etc) require that you have a reel of TV clips before they even consider you as a guest. How do you get these clips? The best way is to rack up appearances in your local market. If your goal is to get TV publicity, make 2012 all about building your local TV presence and you’ll be armed and ready to go national once you have a portfolio of appearances to show off.
TAKE ACTION: Post a link to your press page (or just to your website) in the comments section below. For the first 30 people to respond, I will comment back with a simple tip to improve your media brand.