There are plenty of tricks up the couture sleeves of Hollywood Publicists to ensure that their client’s name remains, or pops back into, the headlines.
Ideally it’s the good type of PR of course – losing weight rather than piling it on, constant crazy outfits and hairstyles (Lady GaGa – tick) saved from the perils of drug and alcohol problems due to seeing their loved ones battle their addictions (rather than having an addiction themselves), a bi-sexual past or recent dalliance (hypocritically, this is usually reserved for the female stars, unless the male stars are after a gay following), faux-breakups, faux-relationships, saying no to cosmetic surgery (usually after a lifetime of saying yes. Or saying no but of course not actually stopping). The list rolls on.
You don’t need to resort to this to promote yourself, your client, your product or services though, and you can easily do it without falling into the sensationalising trap.
Whatever or whomever you’re trying to get publicity for, you can do it authentically.
Your success in attracting media coverage rests on your ability to think about what journalists / producers and their readers / viewers / listeners find interesting. Something that’s fabulously exciting news for you or your business might not be of interest to anyone outside your immediate family.
You need to be newsworthy, you need to fit in with the media’s format and, forgive my crassness, you need to apply the ‘SFW’ approach – that’s “So Frickin’ What?”
Business owner: “I want to get an article about my business in a women’s lifestyle mag like Women’s Health or the Body & Soul liftout. I’m a new yoga teacher and I’ve started at home classes for women. ”
Business owner: “But I travel to their home and take them through private lessons”
Business owner: “I do this so that I can fit into their schedules”
Business owner: “Well, I was noticing a trend in the industry that fitness class sizes were dropping. So I did a survey of all of my clients who no longer came to classes, or didn’t come as regularly as they wanted too, plus had my friend who works at a major gym chain to ask around as well and the biggest reason was because it was too hard to find a babysitter for their children or it was too difficult to fit in with set class times”
PR: “Still SFW but we’re getting closer”
Business owner: “To my knowledge, there’s no-one else offering this service in my area”
PR: “Now we’re getting somewhere. And the clients that you see at home, how are they going with their health goals?”
Business owner: “I have one young mother who I’ve been teaching for three months and she’s nearly back to her pre-baby weight. And I have another who was quite over-weight, had a back injury and was on anti-depressant medication. After working with her for six months, using yoga, a walking plan and an eating plan, She’s now lost 20kgs, her back injury is gone and she’s tapering off of her medication. They’re both really proud of themselves, have before and after photos and are happy to talk about it.”
PR: “Now that’s so frickin’ interesting!’
Follow some of the ideas below and you’re on your way to creating a great, newsworthy, authentic pitch.
1. What’s new pussycat?
Do you have a new product or service? Is it just new to you or new to the industry? Think about what makes it exclusive, unique, unprecedented or unrivalled in your market and then you can create a pitch from that angle.
2. Trends aren’t just about fashion
Try and figure this out; What are the main attractions in your business that are bringing you clients? Identify these main attractions, and then investigate if this is an industry trend. Do other businesses in your industry also have these main points? Is it because that’s what customers these days are demanding? Or is it just how it’s always been done? Think along these lines and you’ll be able to come up with some new story angles you can use to attract media interest.
For example, if you’ve had a massive sales spike in the number of chocolate eclairs you’re selling, work out why. That you’re selling more chocolate eclairs is not news but if you can work out why people are suddenly devouring your chocolate eclairs (i.e. you’re using a different type of cream that 2010 customers are finding appealing / chocolate eclairs are in the new food craze / you promise delivery within 30 minutes on weekday afternoons; when people are having mad sweet attacks etc), you may have found your news angle.
3. Be the mistress or master of your domain (and whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s your domain again?)
If you offer bridal hair and makeup, don’t simply promote your service and hope to stand out from all the other hair and makeup artists. Instead pitch a story about stressed out brides whose anxiety levels make their skin break out, their hair go limp and they decide to call off the wedding.
You’ll be seen as the expert that you are. You’re on the frontline! This is YOUR niche. You’re doing hair and makeup for weddings every weekend and have seen the stress first hand! TV/Online viewers, radio listeners and magazine and newspaper readers who then hear about you will believe that you know your stuff. This angle also gives you an opportunity to mention that one way to relieve the wedding pressure is to use a specialist like yourself on, or in the lead up to the Bride’s big day.
4. Forget about how wonderful you are – put the spotlight on how you help others
As the Zen masters say; “It is when you focus outwards that you achieve true happiness”. So instead of focussing on your success, focus on the success of your clients. Why? Well, yes, this is when it comes back to you (sorry Zen masters). Your clients have only had this success because or YOU, your products or services. Focus on why you, your product or your service helped them, not how. Highlight their achievements and keep the story about the client. This will strengthen your relationships with your clients PLUS your product or service will be shown in exactly the light it should be to attract other potential clients.
5. Not a new, glam service or product? Look at how you can fit in with what the media are already planning
If what you do is wonderful (undoubtedly) but not necessarily stand-out unique, you can still get some fab publicity.
Know your target audience and figure out what media they watch/listen/read. Then go online or call the media to see if they’ll give you a list of their upcoming features. Do not call on a deadline day or when the’re just about to go to air or the time-pressed media will dismiss you or give you a (deserved) earful.
You can then pitch your product or service as part of a general feature that they’re doing. For example, if you sell organic candles, try for inclusion in a special a magazine is doing on romance or natural therapies. Or ask them to consider including it in their Valentine’s Day / Mother’s Day / Christmas gift-guides.
PS – magazines and newspapers often work months in advance on things like this so don’t send your pitch through a week before Mother’s day and expect it to be considered. You’ll need to do this at least two or three months prior.
What do YOU say?
Do you know any other PR tips you think can work?
And please let me know if any of these tips work for you – I’d love to hear of your success.