Publicity is good. Free publicity is even better. And it’s also easier to get than you think, provided that you know where to start, have an action plan, and grasp the “rules of the road.”

Where to Start

This part is simple. Start at HARO (Help a Reporter Out) at www.helpareporter.com. Three times a day, HARO sends its subscribers no-cost media opportunities in selected fields, such as healthcare, business and finance, education, entertainment and media.  It’s an essential PR resource every entrepreneur, business owner, expert and author should know about.

HARO is one of my favorite sources — and not because I’ll be featured on their website in an upcoming success story. It’s because HARO provides a media-rich collection of publicity opportunities for experts across the world, as well as a fast-paced forum for journalists looking for source experts (a.k.a. you).

Without question, for an entrepreneur, author or guru of any kind, being “picked up by HARO” is a huge win. It could easily lead to being quoted in an article or report, or featured in a story, blog or book. It could also lead to radio and TV interviews – which means more credibility, mind share, competitive advantage, a rush of traffic to your website, your phone ringing off the hook, your email bursting with inquiries, and most importantly: sales, sales and more sales.

Your Action Plan

There are five pieces of a successful HARO action plan:

  1. Start your media response strong. List your name, position, website address and company description in the first paragraph.
  2. Keep your pitch short and sweet, and answer questions directly. If a journalist or producer is interested in your story, he/she will email you back.
  3. Provide a link to important material in your email – don’t include attachments (more on this below).
  4. Create a standard Press Response template that you can use for every media inquiry. Use the same intro and conclusion/call to action for most responses, and customize the main message for each query.
  5. In the subject line, use the word HARO and include the query title (e.g. HARO: Why HARO users have a PR Advantage).

“Rules of the Road”

Knowing the “rules of the road” will make or break your HARO efforts. There’s a fairly strict code of media etiquette, and playing by the rules is important.  Here’s a snapshot of what to do – and what not to do.

Do’s:

  • Do communicate in a polite, respectful and focused manner. Reporters will respond in-kind.
  • Do provide great content. Reporters get hundreds of pitches daily. Make it easy for them to say “yes.”
  • Do ensure that the body of your copy is clear, concise and concentrated.
  • Do move quickly if a reporter wants your help. Time is of the essence.
  • Do stay on-message. As with any marketing, this is the only way to go to reach your audience.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t include an attachment, because of malware and virus threats.
  • Don’t beat around the bush. State your opinion (more on this below).
  • Don’t bother with a “catchy” headline. Save that for your media releases.
  • Don’t try and negotiate deadlines – they’re firm at HARO and there’s no wiggle room.

Standing Out in the HARO Crowd

Once you get the hang of HARO and follow the “rules of the road,” interest from reporters should follow. But then you’re faced with another challenge: how do you stand out in the HARO crowd, and become a sought-after source? Here are some bonus tips that can truly put you over the top:

  • Without going off-message, over-deliver in your interview. You’re being consulted for your expertise and experiences. This is the time to share what you know.
  • Reporters need and want sound bites and opinion. So while it’s fine to be reflective and fair, you aren’t being asked to describe an issue or a trend. Reporters can figure that part out themselves. They want your opinion. So have one, and be prepared to share it.
  • Build a database of reporters by being friendly, helpful and to the point.

And most importantly…

  • No matter what, respect the connection and the relationship, as you would with a trusted colleague or your very best customer.

 

I’ve discovered that one of the easiest and most fulfilling ways to bring business in the door, and feel like I’m making a difference is through donating gift certificates to charities and organizations that need to raise money for a good cause.

Choosing the right organizations that align with my brand and core values is important, and knowing who the audience is gives me an opportunity to target my message and customize it for the cause.

In my Goodness Campaign, all branding materials and collateral have a ‘look’ that is consistent with the way I want to be seen — in my community, to my colleagues and clients, and to the world. My gift certificates are well designed, include my signature photo, and key information about my business – so anyone bidding on an auction item or not, can contact me.

My time and PR and promotions services are valuable, so I also make it a point to give at least a $500 gift certificate and ask that at least half of the money is collected for the cause. Return promotion is a given.

If you want a million dollar brand, you want to look like a million, and feel like a million. Giving opens the heart and allows prosperity to flow.

Go with the flow. Make time to make a difference.

This week, there were two networking sessions on my calendar; the first, an Open Mixer for Boston World Partnerships, and the second, an all-day conference, Promote Your Passion, where entrepreneurs and a series of experts met to talk about building stronger businesses through innovative marketing, sales, networking and charismatic relationships.

The theme of the conference was clear.  Connectivity is today’s new currency. Without relationships there are no sales, and without sales, there is no business.

Here are some takeaways you may like to add as Insider Secrets:

  • At your next networking event, meet 5 people, and connect with each of them for 5 minutes. The key people are: the Speaker; the Organizer; and 3 yappers. Yappers are always talking to people, have a crowd around them, and never talk to other yappers.
  • Don’t bring business cards to networking sessions. Just bring a sharpie. Write one of two notes; Dud (in code) or *. Follow up with the stars and ask how you can help them (by asking the right questions). Make a coffee date and begin a relationship. Don’t ask for business, just ask how you can help.
  • Buy from network marketers, instead of Target for items you need (and are available by those same network marketers). In fact, buy one item from each marketer who sells the item you need, because each of those marketers know hundreds of people.
  • Find out which Facebook groups those marketers are in, and join those groups. With each new contact, there are hundreds of prospective customers.
  • If you’re in business, use your phone message as a branded marketing opportunity. One of my colleagues has a company that “brings back desire” in relationships. If she added a weekly intimacy tip to her voice mail, and promoted it on Facebook and Twitter, she might double her mailing list. In fact, her phone might ring off the hook.
  • And lastly, be creative with your marketing. You know all those pre-paid envelopes that come in the mail? (Love this), send your marketing material back in the same envelope, and ask the recipient to pass it on.  Why not, right?

Loving the ideas from the 33rd floor and hope you do too!

Special Thanks to Casey Eberhart who shared this information. 

It’s been a busy week here in Los Angeles, where I’ve been at a four day meeting for the “Millions Within.”

A couple hundred entrepreneurs, with businesses ranging from just the idea stage to seven figures got together to learn about being marketable and what’s stopping us from our greatest success. It was a powerhouse opportunity to learn, be humbled by our innermost desires and fears, inspired by passion, and the longing for great change.

It’s always enlightening to re-visit some of the roadblocks we have to becoming our greatest selves in business, and our highest selves to serve our life purpose. I am continually amazed at the high level of energy, commitment and intensity of entrepreneurs who want to make a difference – and find it fascinating to see who will give up when it becomes uncomfortable, and who will welcome being uncomfortable (or bring it on) because they know it’s the only way to grow. No “if’s”, “ands” or “but’s.”

For myself, growth is only possible by stretching beyond my greatest fears and limits, and facing what’s known as the “terror barrier,” an invisible stop sign that’s there to keep me safe. It’s a must to go beyond, and I cringe when I see or feel it coming. And before each breakthrough, there seems to be another roadblock, to keep me at my same level. No choice but to bust through.

Having a coach helps you get through these challenges and obstacles, and keeps you focused, in line with where you want to go, even if it’s terrifying, and you want to give up in the worst way. Trust me, I’ve been there.

The good news is you’ll know you have success when you have a result. It doesn’t have to be the end result. It’s the journey, not the destination, because in all reality, there is no finish line. It’s invisible. We make it up so we’ll feel better.

My circumstances and successes may be different than yours, but they’re no less important. My results are directly proportionate to my efforts, as are yours.

Think of that next time you want to give up because you’re tired, or frustrated, or angry because you need to alter your course – because success isn’t always easy.

Make your action count with a plan. Get the help you need, and don’t stop.

Success is right in front of you.

One of the best pieces of advice in PR and getting noticed was to send your info/product/ideas to the CEO of a company via Fed X. Why? It gets noticed. Whether it’s a big company where your package is logged in,or a small firm–overnight deliveries make a bigger impact to decision makers. They cause a second look. Then, it’s up to you to follow up.

If I ever need to make a splash, I send materials Fed X.  And fun ones! Ever send a pineapple? People are intrigued and chances are you will be remembered!

This tip was featured at The Entreprenette Gazette’s Best PR Tips

I am excited to announce that Partner Promotions will be representing Ovation TV at the Shakespeare on the Boston Common Friday, July 29 – Sunday, August 14th.

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s annual free Shakespeare on the Common production will be All’s Well That Ends Well, at the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common, in partnership with the City of Boston and Mayor Menino.

This is the 16th year of Shakespeare on the Common, and All’s Well That Ends Well is a Shakespearean comedy and globe-trotting adventure of how far one woman will go to win the heart of her beloved.

Helena loves Bertram, but marriage is the last thing on Bertram’s mind. With boundless wit and tenacity, Helena pursues Bertram from Paris to Florence and through a maze of obstacles thrown at her by chance, circumstance, and her fiancé’s recalcitrance, finally emerging victorious.

The program, which has become a beloved civic institution, will draw an estimated 75,000 people over 16 performances.

I hope you can join us!

Thank you to Sarah Shaw for including the below post in her wonderful piece on What Do You Outsource First?

Be sure to read everyone’s suggestions at http://theentreprenettegazette.com/2011/07/27/what-do-you-outsource-first/

Here’s my response to Sarah’s question:

One night, many moons ago, I realized as I was paying bills at 4:00am,that I hated accounting. I was also honest enough to admit I didn’t know enough about “behind the scenes” technology or on line graphics. I drove myself crazy with the “I’ve got to learn this ALL”! So,I gave it up. I hired a virtual bookkeeper, a wonderful VA, and a graphic artist to help so I could concentrate on my strengths. You can start a business by yourself, but you can’t grow it alone. Get the help you need to share your very best.

“Welcome Back”, I said to myself. I took a break, visited with my kids, wrote some articles and a bit for my upcoming book. I emptied my head. Kayaked. Cooked new recipes. Danced in the moonlight.

I’m just sayin’ — It’s summer, and I gave myself a well-deserved break from my normal routine (though I might like to keep dancing in the moonlight as an activity).

My million dollar tip today is this: For your head, for your heart, for your health –Take a break.

When it’s time (you’ll know), just get back to what’s important to you.

For me, it’s helping entrepreneurs with their lives, and promoting their businesses, and making more money, so it can FUEL the life they want to live. And, how they’ll give.

It’s pretty easy to figure, once you get to what’s important.

This week, I was fortunate to interview Sarah Shaw from www.Entreprenette.com. I loved what she had to share with us, her tips for taking products to market, insights on being an entrepreneur, and the free PR distribution list she shared here. But, I didn’t love something else.

Me.

I was sick as a dog, wobbly, even got the name of her website wrong. (Forgive me, Sarah). I was doing all that I could to hold on and make it through, letting Sarah carry the ball. In all honesty, I lost my voice the week before, canceled the interview already once, and wanted to be respectful of her time, and honor my commitment. I prayed to have a voice, and be clear enough to ask the questions I had prepared weeks before the interview. It didn’t happen.

My body was stronger than my will, and the results were less than perfect.

Wabi-sabi. A Japanese term noting the art of imperfection.

I love to garden and know that a flower doesn’t bloom 365 days a year. Nor do we. I know that sometimes my favorite Greek meatballs don’t come out as good as usual because I forgot to buy scallions, or I didn’t use the cast iron frying pan and finish the batch off with a sprinkling of oregano. Sometimes things turn out differently than you plan. And, that’s ok. We have to give ourselves permission to have an off day, or week, or undefined time — and let it be, without beating ourselves up. That “ourselves”, includes me.

Leonard Cohen, the author, writes this:

Forget your perfect offering
There’s a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Wabi-sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, modest and humble.

For me, an imperfect interview was part of letting go of my own perfection. Accepting an off day, and, being ok with it not just for me, but for my community.

Imperfection is perfection for where we need to be, and perhaps, what we need to learn.

It was such an important lesson for me — to lessen the load with grace.

It IS all good. It’s our minds that may not be in sync, at the time.

I’​m finding that with the current economic marketplace, I advise small business owners to give lots of added value.

Instead of discounting programs, I suggest that they add to an established program. That often makes a difference;​ i.e., a half day session included with a six month program, for business coaching for example.

There are many vendors that may offer your service, but you have to personalize your products to their needs (not yours) without giving up integrity, or doing it for free.

By adding a little extra, of their perceived value, you’​ll turn a prospect into a customer.