Business Coach Truth: You must know how to tell your story in a way that is newsworthy.
“You have to fake it before you make it.” – Lori Montag (Founder of Zany Bandz & Slap Watch)
When the Beatles landed in New York City in 1964, “Beatle Mania” officially began. The 4 bands members got off the plane they were greeted by 3,000 screaming teenagers at the airport. Some were in tears and some were carrying placards with phrases such as “I love you, please stay”. Once these young pioneers of rock stepped off of the plane and onto the tarmac of Kennedy Airport they were instant celebrities! Did these 3,000 fans all happen to know the precise landing time of the Beatles or did someone tell them? Did these fans, run out and buy these placards or did someone give them a budget before telling them what to buy and what to write? Did these fans decide to scream at their own prompting or were they coached?
My friends, the beginning of “Beatle Mania” was one of the best examples of business coach strategy, marketing, and PR at work in American history. As the Beatles arrived to the United States, the “British Invasion” hype looked as though it would be greeted by 10 kids who were vaguely familiar with this British Band and the songs they played. However, employees from the local radio station and the publicists for the Beatles organized and paid a group of teenagers to scream and cheer, thus perpetuating the creation of the atmosphere of hype that began to surround these four young men every where they went. If the American news outlets weren’t able to show that memorable footage of 3,000 teenagers and adoring fans screaming as they got off the plane, how much less excited would America have been? Did the Beatles become big because they already were big? Or did they become big because they were so good? Only God truly knows, but I know business coach strategy, marketing, and PR certainly did not hurt.
Frank Sinatra’s publicist team actually paid young teenagers wearing bobby socks to scream, cheer and fake actual hysteria as he performed. This began to create the atmosphere of HYPE and celebrity that would make Frank Sinatra famous. Did Sinatra become famous because he had screaming and fainting fans before he was famous? I think it is worth considering.
People started inquiring about booking me for speaking events days after I had received the United States Small Business Administration Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Was I not smart up until then? Was my success not worth examining before I received this award? Would it have been smart for me to have hired a publicist to share our business accolades with the media earlier? Would it probably have been a good idea for me to get my information into the publications that event coordinators, conference organizers, and workshop planners read along time ago? Would it make sense for you to begin launching a strategic public relations campaign designed to get your business in front of your target audience starting today? YES, but how do you start? Who do you contact? And why would the media be willing to cover you and your business in the SUPER-IMPORTANT NEWS?
My friend, decide right here and now that you are a BIG DEAL. Someday your business is going to make BIG MONEY because starting right now you are going to treat your business, your employees, your clients and yourself, like you are a BIG DEAL. Whenever a peacock is trying to impress another peacock it will puff its feathers out to look bigger and more beautiful than it is. In nature, when many animals are about to fight, they will puff out their hair when trying to scare off a rival. Nature does it and humans do it too. The goal is to look big before you are big because nothing creates momentum like momentum and nothing inspires confidence and trust like a little media coverage. Being on the news is big news for your business. During this post I am going to teach you how to get in the news, but it only works if you follow this business coach system with tenacity, diligence and caution. There are only 4 major networks in most local markets and only 15-20 major publications that cover most industries. You don’t want to get a reputation amongst reporters, writers, and news community as being “that guy.” Once you are known as “that guy” it is truly very hard to overcome this problem.
Getting your company featured in the news (in a magazine, on TV, on the radio, in a newspaper, on a news blog etc), simply involves the following seven step business coach process:
1. Find out who currently covers stories about your market niche/industry.
This process is really as simple as grabbing a copy of each of your local papers to see which reporters covers which areas of focus. Even doing a “Google Search” for your industry plus the name of the local publication you want to research will get the job done. For instance, if I lived in Tulsa and I wanted to get my real estate business covered in the local media I would “Google Search,” “Tulsa World + Real Estate Market.” This search would soon show that Robert might write about real estate in my city, while John might be the one who writes about business in my city. Krista covers the downtown related stories, while Lisa covers the news of the weird. Regardless of who covers what, it is absolutely essential that you begin to build a database of the reporters and journalists that cover each area of news for your location media outlets. You must do this research for every publication in which you have an interest of appearing.
2. Gather the contact information for those that cover your market niche / industry.
Once you have discovered the first and last names of the journalists and members of the media that write about your industry niche for each media outlet, it is time to do some more research. You must now gather their contact information. This is generally very easy to do because most journalists and reporters publish their contact info freely in order to be reached by people in your city that might have “an inside scoop” for them. Look on the “contact us” sections of the websites for each company they represent. Call the media outlets over the phone and ask for their contact information. Discover the pattern with which their email addresses are signed. For example, you might discover that the emails for the Sun Times all are in the following format: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], etc… With obvious patterns like this, it does not take a genius to discover what Moses Malone’s email address would be: [email protected]. My friend, you must be resourceful here. You can do it! However, if you can’t, you need to stop with this entrepreneurship nonsense as soon as possible because being an entrepreneur is all about being crazy resourceful.
3. Build rapport and establish yourself as the expert for your industry with these reporters.
To build sincere rapport with the members of the media that cover your industry niche for the various outlets, I recommend making a quick initial call to them, and then following up with a quick, hand-written physically mailed note of appreciation for them and the level of quality they bring to their writing. Remember, the members of the media are people too! Ultimately they have goals and dreams, just like you. What are the dreams of a journalist and reporter? What makes these members of the media tick? What gets them excited? As a rule, I have found that the following character description is true of the overwhelming majority of the media:
The typical member of the media is a four year graduate from a liberal arts college. They are usually left-leaning (Democrat) in their political leanings. They tend to feel underpaid and overworked. Because they cover the news everyday, and because many of them have to come up with a news story that meets their publication’s standards every 24 hours, most tend to rely heavily upon Publicists and PR firms for the stories they cover. They are always in a hurry and they are always up against a deadline for getting something “on the air” or “in the news before they go to print.” Most have a strong desire to do well in a smaller local market in the hopes that their work will get noticed on a national level, which will offer them the opportunity to work for a national media outlet or content provider. Help them break a big story and they will love you forever. They take their commitments and promises very seriously. They will never give up their sources, and they work very hard to build trust with the local news makers so they can always have the “inside scoop” about what is going on. They need these insiders for the “tips” and “news story ideas” they provide.
Because the profile above is so accurate, the script for your first call to them should really be very similar do this: “Hey, is this Pat? Pat, did I catch you right up against a deadline? Ok, well here’s the scoop. I do a lot of work in the downtown real estate industry, and I just want you to know that I’m a fan of your work. That article you wrote about the new hotel downtown was great. Well hey, I know you have to run, I just wanted to let you know, I do a lot of work downtown and if you ever need a source for your downtown stories, please don’t hesitate to call.” Follow-up this call with the mailing of a hand written note. Let them know how much you enjoy their work. Make sure to include your contact information and your area of expertise, so that they can use you as an expert resource in the future.
4. Develop a marketing/public relations calendar full of events, press conferences, parties, and conferences that would be of interest to the journalist’s core audience.
Now that you know who covers what, and you have established yourself as an expert in your local community, it is time for the fun part. You now must develop your 12 month plan. Remember as Napoleon Hill once wrote, “Reduce your plan to writing.” The moment you complete this, you will have definitely given concrete form to the intangible desire.” Nothing will happen until you write this plan and commit to turning it into reality. You must create a 12 month PR strategy. Your strategy must be filled with innovative ideas that will keep the media talking. The best way to do this: “Google Search” for your industry’s name plus the name of a local city (other than the one that you are wanting to work in). For example, if I was in the wedding industry in Dallas, and I wanted to develop a marketing calendar for my Dallas wedding business, I would Google search “Miami Wedding Industry plus the name of the local publication.” I would then begin to write down what the articles in Miami were about. I would do this research for each one of the major publications in Miami until I had 12 ideas based on what the Miami media actually covered in my industry. If the Miami media thought the story was newsworthy, there is a strong possibility that my local media will feel the same way.
5. Write a newsworthy story/”press-release” in a standard format that will appeal to the journalist’s core audience.
Over time, journalists have developed a setup formula with which they expect every press-release to appear. Due to the extreme busyness and the deadline driven nature of today’s media, they expect you to know the formula. They expect you to write a catchy headline for them. They expect for you to include the facts that support the details of the story. They expect your press-releases to be newsworthy and appropriate for them and their areas of focus. Doing a simple “Google Search” for a standard press release format will help you learn the standard format. However, you must never forget that your “press-releases” are being sent to humans, humans like you and me that get flooded with SPAM, and unwanted emails and faxes.
6. Submit your “press-release” to the media at the times when they are listening and at intervals that are appropriate.
Nobody gets more bad story ideas and poorly written news ideas than the members of your local media. Thus, their defenses are up, so you must write email subject lines, email bodies and press-releases that get their attention for all the right reasons. You must find out the best and worst time to submit your press-releases. If your local reporter is in a staff meeting and news planning meeting everyday at 10:00 AM, and they are in the habit of checking their email for news story ideas right before this meeting each day, it might make sense to always send them news stories at 9:50 AM. You must find out the time of day when each of these reporters and members of the media are the most receptive to news story ideas. You do not want to be “that guy” who always calls them right when they are in the process of finalizing an article that must “go to print” in the next 10 minutes.
7. Follow-up with a “quick call” to verify that press-release has been received without irritating anyone.
Use this script when placing your follow-up call to keep this call from going badly, “Hey is this Jim? Jim are you up against a hard deadline? Well hey, here is the scoop… I just sent you an article about how the state of Texas will benefit from the 42 graphic design jobs that are being created in downtown Dallas by the good folks at Clay & Associates. Did you receive the fax and email I sent you? As always, if you have any questions, just let me know.”
Be prepared to talk fast, think fast, and answer any questions they may have about the validity of your story, your sources, and your ideas. Understand that the very nature of a reporter’s job forces them to be alarmingly direct and frank. They simply, must move quickly if they are going to hit their deadlines, and they will hit their deadlines or they will be dead.
8. Follow-up on every feature, news article, or TV segment with a compliment and a hand-written “thank you note.”
The overwhelming majority of the members of the media have high-integrity and huge passion for what they do because they certainly do not get paid enough to be in it just for the money. Every time a reporter or member of the media writes a story about something, they are putting their neck out there. Get in the habit of handwriting a note to thank them for their gracious article and the time they allotted in covering the story. Sincerely compliment the areas of the featured piece that you liked the most, then send this physical letter to them in the mail ASAP. Build relationships with these people and all is well. Irritate these people and you will have problems.
If you would like more information about how to specifically write a press-release in a format that the media wants, you can call our office today at 918-878-0216 or you can visit us online at www.thrive15.com. The best book ever written on the subject of Public Relations and Marketing is Guerilla PR 2.0 by Michael Levine. Get this book and use it as a business coach reference. It will help you tremendously. If you would like to hire a PR firm to handle this madness for you, we can recommend the best PR firm for you. Just give us a call.