I’m loving my public relations business, Green Goddess Public Relations. Some people have asked whether it’s been a big transition, a big career change? I tell them no. It really was an evolution. When I was a spokesperson for Lightlife vegetarian food I ended up booking lots of my appearances on my own and really enjoyed that side of things. From there I realized I could help other businesses I was passionate about find placement as well. That’s how Green Goddess PR was born about a year ago. Now six clients later I am thrill by how well it’s going and how much I love owning and operating this business.
Having worked as a TV news anchor/host/producer, etc. only helps me really truly understand PR better and what works and what doesn’t. When I was on-air I got tons of pitches and most were bad. To be honest most of the time I hit the delete button right away. My goal, now on the PR side of things, is to not have people click delete and instead get them to read my messages and book my clients.
So how do I achieve this? Here are some tips. BTW a lot of these tips can translate beyond PR people to businesses on their own, their employees and even individuals:
1) It pays to have friends in the TV business. Lots of years in the business means lots of great connections. I can’t say enough how much I thank these friends and colleagues for supporting me. I know most people haven’t worked on the other side so you may think this doesn’t apply to you. Wrong. It just tells you to always enjoy your job, whatever it is and enjoy your co-workers. You never know when the connections you make will come back to help you in the future.
2) Press release blasts (or email blasts of any kind) to a large list of press don’t usually work. I know businesses love the idea of a press release, but generally this is an outdated way to get your information into the media universe. If you truly have a huge, earth shattering product or piece of information to release a press release may work. How often does that happen though? Let’s just say if you are sending out more than one press release a month you had better work for a company like Apple, otherwise you are spamming the media on your contact list. This is where the delete button will be used often!
3) If #2 has you scratching your head wondering “how do I get information out, if I don’t use a press release?” this answers that. In three words “customize a pitch.” This means you may write something up that resembles a press release, but send it out one email at a time. It also means you are being selective about who you email. Do your research. For instance if you are pitching a vegetarian restaurant, you probably don’t want to send that story idea to someone who isn’t open to the idea of vegetarian food. Instead research reporters who have been friendly to vegetarian food before. If they’ve written kindly about meat-free food before they are more inclined to do it again.
4) This tip is an important one, but it can take a toll on your personal life. The fact is to be a success in PR you have to be willing to be available during almost all waking hours. This means responding in a reasonable time to clients & media. If you don’t respond to a media request in a very short period of time they could move onto another source. Boom you’ve missed a great opportunity for exposure only because you are slow to get back to people. This is a hard one because we all have other commitments where answering calls or emails is hard. You just have to try your best to be as available as you can be. I first check my email at about 7a (or earlier) and I’m checking it constantly throughout the day until I go to sleep.
5) I only want to work with clients whose companies I’m interested in. I have worked with PR firms in the past who just didn’t seem to know the products they were pitching (ie their client’s food is vegetarian and they don’t know anything about veg food). I am sure there are PR firms out there who take any clients, that’s not me. If I don’t have some interest in a client I feel like I would be doing them a disservice. If I know something about the businesses I’m working with I’m already a big step ahead. I also think if you are interested in the companies you are working with the passion shows and that helps sell the company. A little bit of passion goes a long way!
6) This one kind of relates to #5. Having a specialty can also help. Originally I started out in vegetarian and vegan PR. I expanded to other food, health-related and mom businesses. Yes those are all things I’m interested in so, as I said earlier, it makes sense for me to represent these companies. It’s also great to have a specialty because once you build your media contact list, those contacts know to turn to you for certain stories. Reporters I work with know to call me if they are looking for food experts, certain health specialties, etc.
7) You need to remember companies are your clients, not your employers. This puts you in the position to always tell them what’s best for their company. Basically you don’t need to shy away from being honest because you are worried about losing your job. You always want to do what’s best for your client because you know the best way to get them coverage. That’s why these people hired you to be their PR expert, because you are the expert! A lot of businesses have unreal expectations, it’s your job to dial them back and tell them what is realistic.
8) Last tip I want to share has to do with social media. If your business isn’t on twitter you are missing a huge opportunity. I now think Twitter is one of the most important PR tools you can have and it’s basically free. Yes you need a person to keep the conversation on Twitter going so that costs money, but if you have a PR or social media person or even a manager in your company assigned to this task then that’s the only investment you need as far as Twitter is concerned. If you get a great story placed in the NYT sure you get the readers to see it, but via Twitter you can get an even bigger audience to see the story. I can’t stress enough how important I think social media and specifically Twitter is. If you have time or the people available to manage other social media accounts you should also be on Facebook and if you company has lots of good photo ops you should be using Instagram as well.
I look forward to this conversation regarding PR to continue and evolve in the future. I’ll add to this list as I think of more tips to help you and your companies!