Who doesn’t like free publicity?

Free publicity is one of my favorite subjects to talk about because it’s all about PR Power on a Budget. You can get the biggest bang for your buck when you utilize all of the tricks and tools that are available to promote yourself or your business.

I could go on for days about all of your options, but for today – let’s concentrate on 3 Ways to Get Free Publicity to put you on the right path!

First up, read one of my own articles called 7 Reasons to Give a Workshop. Technically, by giving a workshop you aren’t working for free – but there are countless publicity and marketing opportunities you can take advantage of by hosting and promoting your own events. Read the full article here on how events help you get free publicity to promote your brand, raise your expert status and of course – help you get noticed!

Next, let’s look at what promotion vehicles you have in place and how you can use them to your advantage.  If you have a blog and are writing as often as you should be, you have a great way to get free publicity for your own business. Write about your new product launch, where you’re speaking next or your own charity involvement.  Get permission to link to other businesses or influence leaders circles — and make sure to promote your blog articles on social media for that extra punch.

Lastly, I want to point out a tool I use all the time — HARO or Help A Reporter Out.  HARO is a secret weapon I recommend to all of my clients to build their media presence.  In basic terms, you answer queries from hungry journalists and by positioning your responses the right way, you can get quoted and interviewed in a variety of publications, tv, radio and blog sources. If you want to learn about how HARO works and how to use it to your advantage, read this article chockfull of good advice!

I write and speak often about free publicity tools and tricks, so be sure to follow me on Twitter @RobinSamora to learn more!

September always seems to bring a new energy to work, and if you’re like me, the pace has really picked up!

The Partner Promotions event team has been promoting the Xfinity brand at 125 events over the last three weeks, we’re gearing up for the IBM sponsored Women’s Tool Box Conference on 9/15,  Mara Glazer’s BizCon14 event in Silver Springs, MD 9/18 – 21, and my workshop and booth at the Small Business Expo in Boston on October 2. Sometimes, it’s fast and furious – and we run with it.

That said, what are you doing with your business over the next month?

Are you thinking about how to get press coverage for your business, product or service – and ways to  pitch the media and other JV partners?

Here are 5 Important Tips on How To Pitch so you won’t give up or go crazy thinking it’s too hard: 

  1. When pitching, make sure you have the right person you want to approach.  Do your homework and research.  Look at the magazine, newspaper or blog where you’d like to be featured and notice their style. How would ‘you’ fit in?
  2. You’ve heard it a million times, and I’ll tell you again. Make your pitch short.  One PR mentor told me to make my pitch 50 words.  Yikes – that’s hard, but putting information through the funnel gives your messaging clarity.
  3. Editors, journalists and reporters WANT to be pitched and are looking for a solution to a problem. Your pitch should include a way you can help their viewers/readers.  They’re looking for the HOW. That’s where you share – your story, best tips, ways to overcome, fix, increase, and help their AUDIENCE with their problem – on air, in an interview, on camera and so on.
  4. Don’t forget to tell your media contact who you are, why you’re the best candidate for the job, and a link to your website, plus contact information.  No attachments please!
  5. But, make sure above all, that you always KISS – Keep It Simple and Sensational!

Ditch the old pitch, and energize with the new!

YOUR TURN

Have you noticed a pattern with certain reporters in the way that they like to be pitched?

What’s your favorite success story from a pitch?

Have you pitched via Twitter or Facebook with great results?  Do tell!

5 WAY TO GO FROMThere must be a time clock in my body that screams ‘be invisible’ around the 4th of July. It lasts about two weeks and happens when I go to my island house on Lake Winnipesauke. My kids and their friends come to visit, I connect (multiple times) with my favorite internet techs for service, and generally enjoy time off without guilt, remorse or worry.

That of course doesn’t mean I’m not conducting business, or having important calls helping clients with their Grammy® nominations, developing signature speech campaigns for authors, or reviewing social media strategy and training for bloggers. It just means business and life take on a different feel in the summer — while rain storms rock the boat, chipmunks sneak a rub by my feet on the porch, and a sea of colorful beach towels dry on a line.

Scheduled time out is important for rejuvenating PR, Marketing and Visibility. It’s as important to disconnect, as it is to connect. That said, I wanted to share some insight.

Here are 5 Ways to Go from Invisible to Visible and Still Enjoy the Summer:

  1. Plan PR and marketing campaigns and tasks in advance with your team. This sounds like a no brainer, but if we don’t communicate, how will we everyone know what’s going on? Put marketing and social media on auto-pilot as best as possible, schedule conference calls or video skype appointments early or later in the day, and get-er-done while getting tan.
  2. Challenge yourself to read email only twice a day. If you’re a recovering perfectionist or work hound, it may be difficult to do. But try it. You’d be surprised at how many people are working less, but still in touch at the office. In fact, announce your policy in advance of a vacation, and to those who are resistant, repeat often.
  3. Be accessible by cell phone and text more often. Being flexible in how the media, your clients, prospects and colleagues contact you gives them comfort in knowing you’re there, and you won’t let them down. As much as I love to talk on the phone, sometimes island reception isn’t all that wonderful, but a text always gets through.
  4. Review your swipe files and brainstorm/write new concepts at least partially. You’ll be surprised at the good ideas you have while on vacation, or driving a boat or talking to someone who seems interesting. It’s summertime here in New England and CEO’s as well as well-heeled prospects all dress down. Remember, we meet people for all different reasons, and they just could be the conduit for your next promotion or biggest sale of the year.
  5. Don’t forget about pitching to the media. It doesn’t matter if it’s 85 degrees or not. There’s always an opening for a good story, a comment on what’s happening in the news, a contrary opinion to what’s going on in your industry or an opportunity to connect with a reporter who has an open spot in his/her editorial calendar now, or 3 – 4 months out. Say hello. Send a postcard. Be seen, heard and known.

YOUR TURN

Is being MIA a guilty pleasure for you? Why?

How do your prolong your summer schedule, without losing momentum in your business?

What are your secrets for balancing home, family and business — especially when it’s vacation time?

Please share your answers below.

I’ve been living on an island for over 30 years, and despite the challenges, I love summers here.

I just wish my cell phone got frequent flier miles. I’d use them to go surfing in Puerto Rico next year.

Secret #1: Thoughts from the Dressing Room

Become  “media  ready”  by  looking,  feeling,  thinking  and  acting  like  a desirable multi-million dollar brand — even on a shoestring budget

Action Items:   You are your brand, wherever you go. Do you give off an energy of certainty and impression of increase so people will want to know you? Make someone’s life better in some small way, every day. Live life fully. Step into your greatness and your brand.

Secret #2:  Get Your Brand On

Cultivate and position a winning brand image that includes bio, photos, signatures, media kits and more.

Look professional, branded, together and ready for business. The press will feel more confident that you’re a player. You are your brand, so act like one that’s in a successful business.

Action Items: Look at your photo – does it look like you now or your high school picture? Can a prospect recognize you in a crowded room? Do you have a signature on your email? Does it give a description of who you are and what you do? Do you have a bio that includes some fun facts, or a cause you really believe in?  Look at your website with fresh eyes. Is there a headline on your home page with a call to action? Are all the links working?

Secret #3 –  Learn the Lessons Momma never taught you about being social

Are there misspellings? What does your branding say about you as an expert? What does it say to the media?

Leverage the power of social media to reach and impress media partners.

The thought of social media can be daunting if you don’t understand it. You don’t have to be everywhere, and do everything. Which social media tools do you like? Whether it’s Facebook , Twitter or LinkedIn (or others), pick what you’ll use and start engaging your audience. Stop worrying about being perfect. Make an effort every day to promote your business. You can make an impact with 15 minutes twice a day.

Action Item: Every day in some small way take an active role in being an expert, or noted in your field. Need content? Set up a Google alert on your ‘topic’ or ‘expertise’ and collect articles to share. Comment on what’s going on in the news. It’s OK to be a contrarian and have a voice.

Use social media to share your expert opinion so the press, as well as your prospects and clients, can notice you. Share content. Compliment others. Be a part of a caring community. Consistency and frequency count.

Secret #4 – Get on the Inside Track

Be a Publicity Insider — Take advantage of free publicity opportunities from HARO – Help a Reporter Out  www.HelpAReporterOut.com. Help A Reporter out offers quality leads for people in all kinds of industries to get noticed in the media – radio, TV , blogs and articles. It’s published 3 times a day, and it’s easy and free to sign up and get emails in your inbox. Journalists, editors, reporters and producers will post their queries on HARO and you can respond to them and get recognized as an expert.

Take the initiative and put yourself out there.

Action Item: Sign up for a free HelpAReporter account and take the time to respond to their emails. Create a one page template to answer press requests. Don’t be annoyed by the press inquiries, think of them as your assistant sending you opportunities to build your business and your brand.

Secret #5 – Be a media magnet, first. Darling next.

Tell your story often and clearly to gain media attention. Practice makes perfect.

Create and launch media releases that tell a powerful, memorable story that demands attention and generates results. Look at what you’re doing in your business. What’s press worthy? Are you speaking? Have a new product or service? Create a media release and send to industry publications, local media, and established contacts. It’s the who, what, when and why of what you’re doing – and can be as simple as a new office location, workshop, product or service, or being featured as a guest expert. Be clear and brief in all interviews and press opportunities and offer ‘soundbite’ quotes. Reporters have limited time – so make sure you grab their attention.

Make it easy for the press to find you and keep your PR engine going. When journalists and bloggers begin to see you showing up in the news, they’ll be more apt to follow you.

Action Items: Make a list of 5 things that you or your company could write a media release about. Have video footage? Even better! You don’t have to win the Nobel Peace prize to be recognized.

Secret # 6 –  Pitch Don’t Bitch

Stop complaining about the lack of press and do something about it. Pitch your story idea to newspapers, radio and TV stations, industry magazines, niche newsletters and blogs. They’re always in need of material. It can be an idea you have tied to a holiday or special event, tips on how a new product or service is helping customers, a community service project you’re involved with or a local event.

When pitching the media, be brief, concise and to the point. Make your headline interesting. You never know who’ll pick up your story and where it may go. Even if it’s controversial, it’s still news! And news fades fast, so keep the momentum going. Be mindfully persistent, not a pest.

Action Items: Create a bucket of ideas to pitch. Make them short and sweet. Are you a newly published author? (Hint, an e-book counts). Are you a guest panelist at a prestigious event? Do you have a new way of doing XYZ that will make a difference to more than just you? Learn to pitch with perfection.

Secret #7 –  The Press are friends you haven’ t  met  yet

Relationships that matter take time. Identify key press contacts and build mutually rewarding relationships that last.

Make it a point to do your homework and keep your eyes and ears open to top reporters in your region or area of expertise. Press contacts move around a bit, so try to stay connected via social media and keep email addresses current. A savvy admin can help with this task, but ultimately, you’ll be the one to decide who you’d like to watch and follow.

Action Items: A stranger is a stranger till the first hello. Make friends with reporters you find interesting. Follow them on Twitter, and learn the fine art of retweeting. Introduce yourself at industry functions. Send a note that you liked their article and you’re a fan, even if you disagreed with their view point. Send a lead their way. Start the process of ‘getting yourself known’.

Getting noticed by the press is a journey not a destination, and every step and mention gets your name out there. You’ll get recognized as an expert if you promote your brand often enough, everywhere you’ll go. It all starts with a decision to confidently stand out from the crowd.

 

Don’t be afraid to send non-traditional promotional items to get your foot in the door. One of my colleagues sent a shoe to the CEO of a company she was pitching via Fed Ex, with a short note asking for a meeting. Do you think she made an impression and got five minutes of his time? I’ve sent pineapples, wax lips, jars of honey, and coffee cakes from the Bayou. Following up is so much easier when you’re memorable.

I was reminiscing yesterday with a dear friend who paid an impromptu visit to me. We worked together for almost eight years, and had about an hour to talk about her new career.  She’s a new RN in her mid 40’s, and has an extensive background in marketing; (I bought my promotions company from her ten years ago). She was a firecracker (still is), gutsy, and often made cold calls to VP’s of Coca-Cola to pitch an idea for the Olympics (and, she got their attention).

We talked about ways to combine her expertise and love of marketing with her new medical background, and came up with ideas to blend her passions. And, we laughed at stories we shared over the years.

Great teaching moment – from the late 1990’s:

Still employed as a Promotions Manager for a Fortune 500 Media giant, we made a sales call (during my lunch hour) to pitch a program for the Ryder Cup. The prospect was a major law firm in Boston.

Dressed the way I would be for my own job, I thought I looked great, never thinking about the consequences of dressing for the client’s corporate culture – a law firm. So, my red jacket with the leopard collar, which was quite stunning, didn’t quite make it.  According to feedback it was also one of the reasons why we didn’t get the job. (It was also noted that my colleague needed a haircut).

To this day, I smile in my own naiveté   at dressing for what I liked, not imaging how I might fit in.

It’s a lesson learned for a big appointment. It’s ok to check out how your prospect or their boss dresses in the office, or on casual days. It’s smart business and gives you perspective. Generally, I’d say  to look put together (have a few great outfits) be
professional and groomed — but (ladies) unless you’re pitching to a more creative field – I’d leave the leopard jacket home (or short skirt, low neckline top) – you get the point.

Years have gone by and I still tell this story with a smile. Granted, our ‘personal style’ might not have been acceptable to the gatekeeper of the VP, though he did love us. But, we were still able to secure three other Ryder Cup clients that year, and more conservative business in the North East.

My colleague got a haircut, and I bought a stylish navy blue suit.

Dress for you anytime
, but for a client, think about their audience.

Growing up in business, oh the lessons we learn,

It’s hard to believe that the Holidays are here and in full swing. Friends of mine are enjoying the love and light of Hanukkah, and my family is getting ready for Christmas.

Each year the holiday season is a little different. One of my daughter’s is almost through with college at Tulane, and the other is celebrating a new job in internet marketing and traveling internationally. How fun, and how time flies! Mama bird aka Rockin’ Robin, loves to see them happy and fulfilling their own dreams!

As 2011 winds down, I know that many of you (including myself) are thinking about our own dreams, and how we’re going to Rock It In 2012.

Here’s an interview I had with my friend and colleague, Bryn Johnson, exactly on that topic. Click below to hear it!

Rock It In 2012

I hope this interview will help you think about new ways to boost your business, change things up, promote differently and be “all in” for the New Year.

I find that being open to accept change creates a pathway for better things to come. And, when you expect better things to come, they usually do.

A colleague of mine recently said, “keep your easy chair open, Robin”. I wasn’t sure what she meant at first, but the more I thought about it, I understood. It gave me permission to get rid of the old and be fine with it. To be open to new ideas, people and opportunities that “by chance” fall into your lap. To delight in a series of new surprises.

I hope all of life’s blessings come to you in your Easy Chair this Holiday Season, and always.