Presenting a Public Relations workshop to an audience of small business owners, my first few slides were interrupted by an attendee that raised his hand and said, “Uh – you are going to be giving us the contact information for big news people, right?”
I smiled, “No, I’m not, but as you’ll learn throughout this presentation, you don’t need it.”
Contrary to popular misconception, public relations in the Information Age isn’t all about who you know.
It doesn’t matter who you know – a national news anchor or even a Hollywood celeb agent – if you don’t have anything worth publicizing.
I like the quote from Benjamin Franklin that states: “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
While Franklin’s statement was initially made regarding literature, its guiding principles can easily be applied to today’s fast-paced world of public relations.
Doing something worthwhile is a prerequisite for generating publicity.
A high profile billionaire could send out a press release regarding his gardenia’s blooming, but that content wouldn’t graze the front page of Wall Street Journal.
Likewise, a reality television superstar could mass mail press releases documenting her annual dental cleaning, but few publications are going to pick that up.
Why? The content isn’t anything worthwhile.
So what is worthwhile to publicize in business?
Let’s walk through a few “worthwhile” pitch ideas:
And not just any cool stuff – really cool stuff.
Let’s look at what RedBull did to score some serious PR:
The Red Bull Stratos Project involved Austrian skydiver, Felix Baumgartner, jumping to Earth from a helium balloon in the stratosphere.
On October 14, 2012, Baumgartner, became the 1st man to break the speed of sound in freefall – reaching top speeds of over 800 mph, recorded the highest manned balloon flight of 37,640 m which is over 24 miles, and the highest altitude jump in history.
He was in freefall for a total of 4-minutes and nineteen seconds. The RedBull video on the jump is super cool – click here to watch.
Leave it to billionaire Richard Branson to take that cake on publicity-worthy “weird stuff”:
In 2011, Branson and AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes wagered on their Formula 1 racing teams, each man betting his own team would finish ahead of the others in the 2010 Formula 1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi.
The loser would have to serve as a female flight attendant on the winner's airline.
Branson lost and honored the bet by dressing up as a flight attendant and serving on a special AirAsia X charity flight. Fake lashes, red lipstick, shaved legs, skirt – Branson did it all. Check out this video of him serving drinks mid-air.
Some organizations offer common products in a unique way, such as TOMS unique one for one program, or an accounting firms’ all virtual work environment.
Think about what distinguishes your company from its competitors. What makes you unique? What do you do differently? How does your uniqueness impact the community at large?
Maybe your organization partners with local homeless organizations to serve as a transition employer.
Maybe your executive team also performs as a Barber Shop quartet.
Maybe your company is making the switch to sourcing repurposed materials to help the environment.
Whatever makes your organizations unique – publicize it!
Worthwhile things don’t have to involve jumping out of a helium balloon capsule four miles above the Earth, or donning a flight attendant suit – some worthwhile things are simple, yet often overlooked potential PR goldmines.
New employees, team member recognition, departmental accreditation are all opportunities to publicize.
New management and new ownership are also “worthwhile” business or organizational changes that may be of interest to area or industry-specific media outlets.
Company events, open houses, fundraising participation are all not-normal-work-day opportunities for you to invite media contacts and PITCH!
We are all experts in something. Maybe you know a lot of physical fitness, or maybe you’re quite the consumer psych pro – identify your area of “expertise” and communicate it. Journalists are always looking for industry and market experts to comment on upcoming content.
Clearly define your “niche” and develop a PR strategy around it. Sign-up with www.prnewswire.com or www.helpareporter.com (FREE). Create an account associated with your area of expertise – finance, psychology, animal behavior, politics, what have you – and start responding to the “matches” received.
Consider how your brand's expertise may connect with your community and provide value through a free seminar or workshop. These community-focused events are great ways to increase brand awareness, build relationships, and provide publicity-worthy content for relevant media outlets.
Hopefully, these examples sparked some brainstorming regarding your own organization.
While we all can’t jump from the stratosphere and land in a desert in New Mexico, we all have something to offer – or pitch – to media sources.
By focusing the first effort of our PR strategy into doing something worthwhile vs. spamming a bunch of “who’s who” media contacts with worthless “I’m so awesome” pitch letters, organizations can generate well-deserved publicity from well-respected outlets consumed by their target markets.
Becker Digital is a full-service Marketing and Public Relations Agency dedicated to empowering mission-driven organizations to reach their goals. We apply our expertise in community development, social media strategy, and public relations to connect organizational clients with today’s always-scrolling online users.