I keep forgetting how easy it is to get free publicity.  If you know where to look and how to respond, it’s straightforward. But, you have to have discipline.

My favorite site for free PR is HelpAReporter.com, commonly known as HARO.

Last month, on December 20th I was featured in an article on kids, parents and gratitude  on CNBC.com, 5 Ways to Teach Your Kids the Art of Giving This Holiday Season.

A couple of weeks earlier, FS Local wrote a story, Picking the Brain of a PR Pro! Behind the Business with Brand Expert Robin Samora.

Do You Want Free Press? Follow these 7 Steps to Get Picked Up by HARO Reporters

  1. First, sign up for HARO and get daily emails from reporters and journalists.
  2. When you see a query that interests you, make sure there’s a fit.
  3. Make your pitch short, concise and be sure there are no misspellings or mistakes.
  4. Don’t deviate from the questions, stay on topic. Be light, bright and polite.
  5. In the subject line when you respond write: HARO: and copy the title of the query.
  6. Include your contact information, website, email and phone number. Be available 23/7.
  7. Don’t stalk the reporter or follow up, unless they ask. Do your best and become a resource.

The more practice you have pitching a story, the better you’ll be. And, once you start getting published, the more you’ll want to respond.

This is earned media and you’re showcasing your expertise.

Sure, responding to HARO and other sites takes time, but the rewards far outweigh the work.

Sign up this week, and get the visibility you deserve!

Sounds like an easy task – to write what you want. Most people start with a list of questions to answer which provides valuable insight, but I also like to add a visual component.

What does a wheel have to do with PR and marketing? This wheel, and the one you’ll draw, is a PR Vision Tool where you decide where you’d like to be seen. You can add spokes, identify opportunities and weight them according to your goals and desires. And, every few months you can reinvent the wheel based on your results and efforts.

Here’s a sketch of my Marketing & PR outline for 2017.

Remember, it’s a work in progress so you can tweak and recreate as you like. Think of it as a recipe for success. Take a look.

Simple? Maybe you think so, but the start of everything great begins by writing it on paper. This isn’t just about manifesting.  It’s about planning and thinking where you may get the biggest bang for your buck. [Free].

I love to teach how to pitch and contact the media, without fear.  If you want attention, recognition, leadership position and expert status – learn how to pitch.  Whether you’re pitching to a reporter, bloggers, podcasters, expert panel groups, speaking committees, industry associations, TV or radio shows – customize the pitch to their request.

Here’s a repurposed pitch for Marketing on a Shoestring.
Robin Samora - Pitch Sample
 

Want to know more about pitching to the media?  Check out these articles.

You’ll also want to look at this:  Society of Professional Journalists Freelancer Directory

Hope that you’re pitch perfect!

I’m a big believer in using events to grow your business. Events provide a forum for you to showcase your expertise, grow your database, make new contacts and attract new clients.  And, if you’re in the front of the room as the expert and love engaging with the audience, it’s also fun!

In this article  5 Ways to Grow Your Business with Events by Eventgenioso, you’ll find events other than tradeshows to increase your ROI. Some examples? Experiential events for brand activation or product launches which pique the media’s attention. Training or seminars with high profile speakers in your industry, that even the fussiest client can’t refuse. And, incentive travel for new prospects and to jazz up your sales team. Fuel prices are low, everyone loves to travel and you can mix and match programs to target your goals. Have the courage to make it a mystery trip? 

As an INBOUND Guest Blogger (blogging is a great way to get media mention BTW), Joel Comm talks about using live events to drive business. In his post Live Events: The Fastest Way to Grow Your Business, he discusses the importance of meeting new people and building rapport with your audience. First, there’s getting to the like, know and trust stage. Then comes the opportunity to do business. Yes, live events can be fun and should be – but don’t forget the value of finding out what’s new (and trending) from vendors and starting conversations with strangers, who may one day be your client! 

Lastly, Constant Contact’s UK blog lists 7 Events to Grow Your Business with content definitely worth mentioning. You may be thinking networking or throwing a party right off the bat, but what about an Open House? I’ve suggested this to hospitals to Meet the Doc. There are also events to Get a Taste of “your subject”, expert/customer panels where advice and testimonials can be shared openly (great PR) and of course, Breakfast n’ Learn, to start the day off right. Make your own waffles, anyone?

Events work to build business, expert status, reputation and credibility.

PASSION 

Passion ignites the fire of your brand. Without it, you’re just like everyone else. The press wants to highlight intriguing and passionate people, products and services that their readers will be interested in.

Ask yourself:

  • What’s your passion and why?
  • Do you include your passion in your “story” so others can get to know you, your products and services, and what you stand for?
  • Are you willing to be transparent and let the world know who you really are?

Remember: A passion for your work + life enhance your
brand and celebrate your uniqueness.

POSITIONING 

Positioning is a mindset for success. Combine it with a road map for where you want to go, be seen and heard. Determine where you want to go not just in your imagination, but on paper and as part of a PR/promotions plan.

Ask yourself:

  • What does your road map look like for media and audience attention?
  • Are you following the same highway as others in your industry, or are you willing to be bolder and combine traditional with non-traditional tactics?
  • Who will set the course for the journey, and who’ll read the map?

Remember: Welcome those who fortify, strengthen and evolve your positioning, and be willing to help others do the same.

PREPARATION 

Be prepared for success and consider yourself an expert, even if you don’t think you are. The road will come to meet you if you’re doing the work and course correction is part of the journey. You’ll find it easier to leverage publicity with every new press mention.

Ask yourself:

  • What is your competition advertising or promoting on and off line?
  • How is your competition utilizing PR in the media and in what formats? (e.g. feature stories, articles, interviews, quotes, podcasts, book jacket reviews, etc).
  • Who will support you to ensure success?

Remember: You can create a PR swipe file of what you like, resonate with,
and aspire to. Imagine yourself in the story, on TV, as a featured panelist. What makes you different? 

PERSONALITY 

Make yourself unique interesting to the press. Start with a BIO that’s full of personality and passion, and ensure that it tells your story in a way that holds the reader’s attention and makes a positive and memorable impression.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you have both a long and a short version of your BIO for different purposes? (e.g. media interviews, teleseminars, articles, email signatures, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, etc.)
  • Are you reviewing your BIO 3 months to keep up with your professional growth?
  • Is your BIO transparent and human, yet highlights your credentials and expert status?

Remember: Include at least 5 things others don’t know about you. They can be accomplishments, hobbies or interests that others may find fascinating. 

PRESENTATION

A professional presentation, photos and website get you past the gatekeeper for a longer look. Ensure that all of your on line and off line branding, photos, collateral and correspondence have a professional look and feel, and that you represent yourself as an expert – with all the bells and whistles expected of someone of your caliber. Look like a million dollar brand.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you maintaining a congruent look and presentation design with your website, newsletters, blogs, Facebook and Twitter pages?
  • Are you investing in professional headshots and lifestyle photos that portray you and your brand in your best light?
  • Are your promotional materials well written in a style and tone suitable for your industry?

Remember: Presentation is equally important for in-person meetings and media interactions. You are your brand wherever you go so dress the part at events, interviews, conferences, speaking engagements – even community gatherings. Be stylish and honor your brand!

PITCHABILITY 

Pitching an idea to the media takes some practice and perfecting, but once you understand how each media works, and how to get pitch ideas, the easier it becomes. Start by reading a reporter’s writing for insight on “how to pitch” them.

Plus, check out their Twitter, Facebook and website pages for insights on their writing style and preferences. You can also use pitch query services like HARO to reach reporters looking for your expertise, and check editorial calendars of magazines in which you’d like to be featured.

Ask yourself:

  • What story can I tell that highlights a new way of doing something, a product that will make life easier, an opinion that’s contrary to popular thinking, or a tie in to a movie or celebrity event?
  • What are some major trends right now, and what are the best ways to tie your pitch to them?
  • What are some national events that can be localized?

Remember: Don’t pitch stories already covered.
You can also try turning your pitch into a “top 10 tips” list. 

Take these 6 P’s and apply them to your business today!

I’m a believer of press releases to get the biggest bang for the buck when there’s a major announcement, release of a book or breaking news.  But, you don’t always have to spend an arm and a leg for its distribution. There are cases when I advise clients to go national and get the widest exposure possible for all the media hits, and other times, the press release can simply be a PR tool for the media via a link on the client’s press page. Both work.

There are varying views on the press release and that’s always refreshing. Mike Butler, journalist and technology commentator shares his thoughts on The Press Release is Dead – Use this Instead. In this article, Butler spells out key information to send a reporter, not just an “OK, here it is” press release. His questions are spot on, his humor puts a smile on my face and I like his style. Read this and you’ll understand what the media is looking for, what they’re not looking for (ie, pdf’s, attachments) and how to pitch via Twitter, which by the way works.

Steve Cody’s article, published in Inc.com gives us 5 Reasons the Press Release Isn’t Dead Yet. I agree with his findings, and you might too. Press releases aren’t just an antiquated business tool, even if you think they are.  They offer legitimacy, a steady stream of news and they break through the clutter.  How is that?  Read more here.

And lastly, Julie Crabill posts a great piece at Mashable.com, 4 Alternatives to Your Next Press Release. First, are you telling a story or just sharing news? Consider producing a short video for Facebook, coming up with a customized #hashtag or designing visuals to share on relevant social media platforms. Then, there’s always going deep. Take a look at what she means.

You can think what you like, but keep in mind that there’s not always just one way to share news. I’ve always liked a mix of marketing, PR, promotion and media to tell a story, with more than a dash of visual, be it infographics, video, slide share, GIFS or graphics.

You can market yourself silly, but remember in PR, variety is the spice of life.

This morning, I got up at 6:00 am to launch my Q2 PR and marketing strategy and attend a Boston University Alumni breakfast networking event.  It’s part of a heavily promoted month-long career month to bring alums and professional together – and connect recent grads with seasoned professionals. (Did you like how I said that)?

It was my first networking event sponsored by BU, other than going to cheer on the Terriers in hockey, and I’m glad I went. Why?

Networking Opens the Doors for Opportunities

  • First, how great to see someone who knows and respects your work. A genuine smile and hug in a room full of strangers is almost always welcome. I’m a hugger, but if you’re squeamish, keep in the comfort of your own boundaries.
  • Networking gives you a chance to hear what others are doing in the marketplace and notice opportunities to connect, partner, refer, work or collaborate together. There were quite a few COM (communications) grads there and possibilities are brewing!
  • Meeting face to face with a brand new circle extends your promotional reach in ways you can’t imagine. It also reinforces your expert status with a whole new group that may one day –become raving fans.
  • There are no rules to revising your elevator pitch. Modify your message according to what you need in the present moment, and the crowd. The elevator pitch police won’t have a warrant out for your arrest if you change it up.
  • Talk with people who may not be your target audience, because they might know someone who might be the perfect fit. Profiling isn’t always in your best interest.

My colleague, who I met while speaking at the Small Business Expo and at the Boston Business Journal enthusiastically endorsed me in front of a room full of strangers. Love that! Thank you, Joy! She’s involved with a new venture working with entrepreneurs and small business owners, and it happens that I’m speaking with her mentor on a national level this week.

From my meeting this morning, I already got invited to speak on a panel in early April and begin preliminary discussions of a potential world-wide tour.

If I didn’t get up at 6 am I would have missed this. Will other opportunities to increase my PR and marketing expertise show up?  Definitely.

Say yes more often than you say no and see what happens.

Oh, and set your alarm clock.

PS:  Sign up now for the Digital Marketing Weapons Event at  Sleek Marketing University on Saturday, 3/26. I’ll be speaking about How to Get Free Publicity for Your Business and Grow Your Brand. Use the code CONTACT for 50% off – since many of you were at the Constant Contact event where I spoke on March 1.

Want more info? Read these other articles on improving your online presence. 9 Cool Free Publicity Tools and Tactics,7 Easy Ways to Get Attention Without Selling Your Soul and How Do I Get More PR and Online Visibility  We’re all experts in training!

Landing a story about your business in USA Today is what’s called a mega media kit.

But two in one week?  While you’re on vacation?

Almost unheard of.

One Pitch = Two Stories

Earlier this week, I was soaking up rays off the coast of Belize when I received an email that my pitch from November was picked up by USA Today.  Woo! The article featured an interview on responsible tourism and how my business, Pay It Forward Global Retreats, was helping women around the world.

In addition to my initial pitch, the editor took an interest in the company that I co-founded and asked to feature it again in another story on female-founded travel businesses. Another Piña colada, please!

Check out my two major media hits in USA Today (lots of other businesses paid thousands for ads but I got these stories for free):

Pay It Forward Global Retreats Blends Business Travel with Responsible Tourism and 6 Female Founded Companies that are Changing Travel for Women  

You Can Do It Too

You just have to know HOW!

Let me teach you this year in one-on-one or private groups training for your team.

What will more press do for your business? And how can you leverage it to the max?

Let’s find out! Rent My Brain for an hour and I’ll explain how you can do it. You can ask me anything else about how to capture thousands of dollars in publicity in online and offline media.

P.S – Publicity snowballs. Period. If editors of trade journals, daily newspapers, weeklies, blogs, and online magazines like covering you in one of their stories, they will sometimes love giving you a second story because you’re such a great source. I’ll take you by the hand and show you how. Rent My Brain for an hour and see for yourself!    

 

  1. Do you know your audience? It’s important to know who you’re pitching and what they want. Don’t sell ice to an Eskimo living in Hawaii unless they own an ice making business! What’s your big vision and does it fit with who’s buying?  Think it through on paper and make sure it works!
  2. Are you passionate about your idea? Passion makes a big difference in presenting a concept and often, enthusiasm is lost if there’s a publicist or hired gun doing the talking. If you’re the presenter, make sure you have positive energy and communicate with a high vibration. It shows not only in the voice, but also in the body. Twinkling eyes are a bonus!
  3. How professional are you? Professionalism is critical not just in writing, but in delivering. For Good Morning America, Tory needs to know without a doubt that the company presenting is totally operational and can deliver great customer service – even if the company is tiny! Talk the talk and believe it yourself!
  4. Are you prepared? Many entrepreneurs want ‘it’ to happen, but aren’t ready and launch discussions prematurely. If you’re overly excited and not ready with all the facts and figures, there’s a chance you may lose an opportunity and be passed over by someone who’s got their ducks in a row. When you speak up – be ready!
  5. Will you leave a positive or negative impression? Often negative impressions are longer lasting than positive ones. Make it a point to practice your pitch not only in front of a mirror, but test it with people who’ll give you honest feedback. If the feedback is similar from all parties – it doesn’t mean you’re bad, it just means that you need to tweak your pitch!
  6. Are you crystal clear? When it’s your moment to shine, be crystal clear about who you are and what you’re offering. A confused mind never buys and certainly won’t put you on Good Morning America. Again, clarity comes from practice.  At our last SBANE meeting (Smaller Business Association of New England), we talked about this article from Forbes on public speaking lessons from the world’s greatest Ted Talks. It’s worth reading.
  7. How about your confidence? Competence and confidence go hand in hand. Sometimes, we get nervous when there’s a big opportunity and ask for what we want. Frankly, it’s silly because we KNOW OUR STUFF. You might get lucky and who you pitch may be gentle and work it out of you, but that’s not always the case. Go for it. Be confident or you may lose the opportunity if you’re weak in your presentation.
  8. Are you concise and to the point? Tory told the audience she has three minutes on-air to sell five products. So, a thirty minute lunch for her with a prospective entrepreneur is out of the question. She suggests networking and practicing your elevator pitch for brevity – so others can repeat it in a sentence.

You might not know it, but you pitch on a daily basis. Keep it simple. Practice passionately. And, deliver from your heart.

Twinkling is a bonus, especially this time of year.

Is your PR plan for 2016 all wings and bones or a comprehensive program built on certain key elements and well prepared strategies?

In Developing a PR Plan, Rachel Meranus of Entrepreneur.com explains the importance of assessing and planning a Public Relations plan – reaching out six months, but realistically looking at three with room for plenty of tweaking. She also recommends examining the tools and tactics you’ll be using — including editorial calendars, speaking opportunities, bylined articles, blogs and social media.  Are you following these same guidelines?   Compare yourself here.

John Jantsch, who writes a terrific blog at Duct Tape Marketing shares a 5 Step Small Business PR Plan for Today.  Why is this valuable?  Because it’s simple and makes sense. Listen. Network. Pitch Curves. Release and Amplify. Follow these guidelines for your 2016 public relations plans and tie it into targeted marketing for great success.  I’m all into roadmaps.

How about When Your PR Goes Really Right (Or Dead Wrong)? Contributor Cheryl Conner writes about innovative PR ideas – and in this Forbes.com article talks about creating Irish Stew Tacos and attracting traffic to a local animal shelter, with a not so friendly dog. What story can you position to get attention and use the media to promote your cause?

Finally, let’s look at Become a Press Magnet by Following this 5-Step Blueprint by Jonathan Long.  Again, solid advice to maximizie your media exposure. One of his points?  Be sure to answer HARO or other media requests often. This, and being active on social media, puts you in front of journalists.

With years of hard work to create a strong brand, marketing and visibility, why would you ever create a PR plan on wings and bones?