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.

RSI PR CoachI’ve been coached by a few fabulous coaches in the past five years and individually they’ve made a tremendous difference in my life and business. And, collectively, they’ve blown me way with their wisdom, guidance, practical advice and vision – to not find myself, but create myself!

You see, I have a vision for who I want to be, but frankly, it’s a world apart from the greatness my COACH sees. The best of the best have laser focus and insight to see your potential, much more than you’ll ever see. They don’t carry all that ‘old stuff’ and resistance that you do. Stuff like, ‘I can’t do it’, I stink at that, I don’t know the right people, I don’t have enough time, I don’t know how to do it – and, shall I go on?

But it’s not just killing those demons and saying ‘Sayonara’, a great coach offers ideas, solutions and has the experience to help get you where you want to go, and how to get there. With PR, that could mean help with media exposure, press relations, speaking gigs, social media positioning, and more. And, all together that means elevating your brand, increasing your recognition and leadership status in the marketplace, and ultimately increasing SALE$ – given the odd chance you’d like to make some money.

A PR coach offers real life practical advice and positioning on what works and what doesn’t to get noticed, customized for your particular situation and your goals.

Here are 3 Reasons You Need a PR Coach in 2014:

1) You see others in your industry who are getting media attention and mention everywhere, and you are sick and tired of this not being you; Plus, you’re way better than they are;

2) You don’t have the time, know-how, promotional zing or savvy to create effective pitches, press releases, media kits or use social media to influence your target market, or influencers you want to influence. Plus, it would take forever for you to figure it out;

3) As much as you hate to admit it as a recovering perfectionist and control freak, you just can’t do it all and be good at everything. You know that PR is important, and if there’s something you can do to make 2014 the best year ever, you’re willing to give it a try.

Where do you need the most help with PR?

If you had to choose one, would you want a stronger media kit, editorial plan for press releases and target mention, or the chance to be pitch perfect?

Are you more the spot coach type (consulting for specific problems) or would you prefer a longer relationship for three to six months to co-create a plan on how PR can help you increase your image (and opportunities).

I’d love to know your thoughts!

RSI Press KitIf you’ve taken the leap to become press worthy, first of all, Congratulations! It’s essential that you’re prepared to showcase who you are and your accomplishments, as well as be armed to present your expertise and story in a way that is professional, organized and interesting.

Every reporter has an audience they are catering to, and your expertise may be just what they’re looking for. It’s important that they know you’re the real deal!

A press or media kit (electronic or otherwise) can be as simple or as complicated as you choose. Content can also vary depending upon your industry, the type and amount of press you’ve had, where you’d like to be featured as an expert and how much information you’d like to share.

Electronic press kits, which are typically the most common, can be designed to incorporate the look and feel of your brand. Most often, they are located as a tab or link on a website, and that link can be shared when the press contacts you, as well as when you reach out to be interviewed. A media kit can also be saved as a PDF file, to be used as an attachment.

A media kit isn’t built overnight, so getting publicity and published articles should be part of continuous PR and promotions plan. Whether you start with a strong media portfolio, or are building one from scratch, the basics are important. Typically, experts aren’t featured on CNN or NBC from the get-go. They build their profile, just as they have built their expertise, taking advantage of every opportunity.

Here are 5 Essential Components of a Press Kit

1) A professional headshot is an important part of your media kit. Your photo should be recent — within the last three years — and it should look like you! If it doesn’t, there’s a potential trust factor at risk.

Presenting your photo to the world is part of the integrity of who you are. Look like you say you do. Your headshots should be used everywhere you brand yourself professionally, so make it a point to invest in them wisely. Depending upon your industry, lifestyle photos can also be added to your press kit. They add another dimension to your profile – your personality, which gives your image a life of it’s own.

2) You’ll also want to make sure you have an updated short and long bio. A bio should be written to not only say who you are and what you’ve done (aka a human do-ing) but also portray a picture of your essence. A reporter wants to know that you’re not only accomplished, but also human. Add some personal and fun facts to your bio. I have mentioned at different times that I was a beekeeper, had a dog Lucy, loved to travel and Greek meatballs were my specialty. Not all at once, mind you. The media is looking for a human interest side to stories.

3) For credibility, it’s important to also include examples of published articles, links to past media experiences, speaking engagements, and so on. If you’ve been interviewed in the media, or written about, include the link. It’s proof you’ve ‘been there and done that’. As you grow your media profile, you can edit your portfolio to include more powerful and recognizable brands. If you have none, start getting noticed with responding to HelpAReporterOut.com requests. I’m happy to share with you a format that works, time and time again.

4) Show that you’re connected on social media. The media loves to share. By providing working links to your LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and Facebook page (if appropriate), you’re showing that you’re part of several networks with millions of viewers.

Make sure that your profiles are media ready and fine-tuned for the discerning eye. Whether you’ll be interviewed for the press or not, it’s important that your branding is consistent on all platforms. Take the time to complete on-line profiles, update missing information and delete any ‘offbeat’postings. Use this time wisely for a PR check-up.

5) Provide clear contact information. Make sure that you give the press an easy way to reach you. Typically, reporters respond by email, but if there’s a deadline or more information is needed, they’ll contact you by phone. Make sure they have your cell phone number and that your voice mail message, as with all social platforms, are ‘brand on.’

There are, of course, additional items that can and should be added to a media kit depending on the expert, what their specialty is, and where they want to be featured. Other items might include interview questions and answers, testimonials, speaker profiles, press releases, background sheets, credentials and so on. What’s important is that when you’re contacted, you deliver the same expertise and deliverables as in your press kit. There’s a learning curve for sure, but with practice you’ll be a pro in no time.

YOUR TURN

What does your photo say about you? Need an update?

If you were a reporter checking you out, what would be their impression?

What fun or interesting facts would you add to your bio that shows your personality and human-ness?

Thoughts? Share below.

Often we’re so consumed in our own thoughts that we forget to realize — if we’re taking the right steps, and have intention and inspired action in our work, and in our passion, that the pieces of the puzzle will fall together. What puzzle? Projects that require multiple strategic steps, by a handful of people, with a purpose and focused end goal in mind.

And so it happened today, or yesterday really, as I write this in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. The start of the week, and a jam packed day, the kind of day with clarity, activity and excitement every entrepreneur dreams of. Baboom. Our press releases were read, noted, and the media were on their way. A photo session was scheduled, as well as plans for an upcoming interview for Let’s make You Shine, and the Make Money Monday Tour. All this, at today’s MMM stop, the Coffee Break Café in Quincy.

Wow.

Even more Wow, was that a young business owner from Canton, came to see me at the Tour stop, and just happening to be there, had photos taken too, with the Patriot Ledger. Tina Prisco, from Te Salon came to meet me for free business advice, got an hour’s worth of ideas, and just by chance, got unexpected added value to promote her salon. That’s what I call great timing.

One person can start a business, but it takes a team to grow a business. That’s tweetable.

Tina, listen in.

Sales, writing, consulting, social media, payroll, technical work, PR, joint ventures, public speaking gigs, newsletters, interview series, and I could go on, take time. Lots of it. The life of an entrepreneur, and the many hats we wear, and the many who wear those hats, work best when pieces fit like a puzzle.

I am grateful to my team who help lay out the pieces to the puzzle, and strategize where to put them.

I am grateful for their expertise, because I’m only one person.

It takes one person to start a business, but a team, a great team like mine, to grow a business.

Don’t force the pieces of a puzzle to fit. Each has its place, and reason to be there.

You can be an expert, but not of everything.

Share the wealth. Let everyone shine.

There’s such pride in a finished puzzle.

One night, quite late, I visited my local Border’s bookstore.  I was looking for reference material on Confidence and Charisma for an upcoming tele-class.  Most of my lesson was thought through, but being a book junkie,  I wanted more scientific data. After all, is it true that confidence and charisma can be part of your DNA?  My listeners would want to know!

Lucky for me, I had the help of a wonderful Store Manager, Dan, who spent the last 15 minutes of his shift concentrating on my project – in fact, right up to the 10:00PM closing hour. For a slow Monday night, I probably raised his store’s GNP. I purchased four books, all business related, and promised to read every one of them in the next coming month.

While I was checking out, I introduced myself to Dan and told him who I was, what I was doing, and asked if there were ever opportunities for speaking engagements at Borders.

I followed up, about six weeks later in person, and again by phone. Then, by a proposal, bio, and photo – an electronic press kit of sorts.

Next month, on May 17th I have a speaking gig at Borders.  And, it will be customized to Border’s request, but also based on my expertise.

I’ll have six weeks of free publicity and promotion from Borders, and my team will be supporting me — preparing press releases, Facebook postings, and Tweeting about my talk.

One late night visit to a book store.

One opportunity to, “just ask”.

What are you asking for?

You’re a busy entrepreneur pulled in a million directions.  Meetings, network receptions, events, campaigns.

Sometimes it’s hard to fit it all in. If you’re promoting yourself properly — You Have Your Info Out There! That means press releases in a steady flow about where you are and what you’re doing.  It also includes social media components.  I’m fairly new to social media, but have a team of textperts and experts who are also on the go, helping “me” get out there in the marketplace.

If I can’t get out there, how can I help you get attention in a crowded marketplace? That’s my passion!

So, what do I do?   Set up a Google Alert on myself.

One night I came home to three postings on the web  (see below) :

I might have been skiing, I might have been working, I might have been creating a new proposal for a client, or on a strategy call with a small business owner.

But the bottom line is this.  My name was out there.  And Google let me know.

Thank you Google.

I appreciate the referral.