Getting lots of media attention can change your life as an entrepreneur. I’m honored that my local press promoted me so heavily when I launched my grocery savings website, SavingsAngel.com nearly nine years ago.
As a result of the free publicity, my friends, neighbors, relatives, and LOTS of new customers visited my website to learn how I could give them more value. Not everyone purchased – but those audiences appreciated the value that I gave them – and I was able to become very popular in West Michigan.
Like many struggling entrepreneurs, my dear wife and I worked tirelessly to grow our company. Meanwhile, my continued media appearances turned into regular segments. In time, I became the guy who would come on radio, TV, and share a weekly newspaper column that would reveal the best ways to save money on the things they bought the most.
My PR for startups marketing had gone on auto-pilot – and started expanding far beyond West Michigan into outlets throughout the United States and beyond. I was getting many hundreds of new customers each week – and didn’t have to pay a dime for most of them. It was all thanks to becoming a media-savvy subject matter expert.
Today, I appear on TV 2-4 times a week. I write a syndicated column, which reaches over a million readers every Tuesday – and onto over 50 TV stations websites. I also create my own digital content (podcast and blog) that gets fairly broad distribution. I also get quoted whenever possible on consumer-related issues in major publications.
I’ve created PR for startups and entrepreneurs through upendPR.com – helping them get lots of media publicity, customers, and sales. Good public relations works – and many entrepreneurs have likely ‘kicked the tires’ on publicity. I hear complaints however, that it’s a waste of time. I couldn’t disagree more. It just takes the right activity – and investment in your own brand to succeed.
After several years of analyzing most entrepreneurs’ struggles with getting in the media, I find that there are three main areas that most entrepreneurs are falling short:
1. You’re not ready for prime time
Do a Google search for your name. Do a Google search for your business name. Do the results project that you’re an expert in your field? If not, you need to contribute more to bloggers, podcasters, and other digital content providers that have solid SEO rankings. Make offers to be of service and create content at no cost to other larger bloggers. Don’t worry about doing it for the links back – although that’s a bonus if they’re willing to do that. Do it just to get your name out there. If they’ll let you include your website/URL in the byline – or within the content, that’s a bonus, too – but what we want is a great blog title alongside your name and a bunch of keywords for your industry.
A word of caution… when communicating with other bloggers, podcasters, and other digital content creators, be authentic. Offer to solve THEIR issues and deliver content that is exceptionally valuable. Let them know that you are just passionate about your industry and you are looking to grow your body of work associated with your area of expertise – and that you will link to them and promote your work on their site with no expectation of links back.
Mention that your goal is to simply have his or her site show up in Google – should someone happen to Google your name. That’s it. Not every major blogger will say yes. You don’t need every blogger to say yes. You just need a handful of high-ranking sites to feature your original, high-quality work. That should significantly impact your Google results.
Another benefit to creating more content for other audiences is that it will give you lots of practice for even larger audiences.
2. You’re only in it for you.
Ask yourself what you want. Be honest. You want lots of sales from getting on TV or quoted in the Huffington Post. Acknowledge that – and use this as the filter to check against in all your communication with big bloggers, journalists, media personalities, and producers in your quest to get PR for startups.
I believe in ‘the long play’ when building a business that you plan on having around for the rest of your life. This means serving with no expectation of returns. Does this mean that you won’t see immediately returns? Absolutely NOT!! You WILL see huge returns if your heart is in the right place – and you always work with the primary objective of being exceptionally valuable to your media contact – or influencer you’re looking to connect with.
Here’s something that you’ll inevitably hear at some point – and the best response you can offer.
Journalist: “Well! We should get you lots of visits to your website after this segment!”
You: “I appreciate that – but I’m just passionate about this subject and happy to serve your audience on anything in my industry.”
As a result of being cool – and playing the long game, guess what happens. You are much more likely to get invited back time and time again. When this happens… you’re set for life. Here’s another benefit I’ve seen. If your heart is in the right place – and you genuinely want to be of service, they are more likely to promote you anyway.
3. You’re not talking to the right people
Okay. So you know someone who works at a TV station. She’s the evening co-anchor – a very prestigious position. You keep mentioning to her that you’ve come up with a clever app that solves a problem in hopes that she’ll talk about you on air.
Guess what. She may likely appreciate your friendship – but she’ll personally never talk about your app on the news. You know why?
Her audience doesn’t care. They want only ‘hard’ local news… the local political scandal and ‘murderer down the street’ kind of stuff.
If you keep pushing the wrong people, you’re just going to make things awkward. There’s nothing they can do for you in terms of their own audience – and you’re just straining your relationship. You have a few options here:
- Talk about something else. You’ll need to take a step back and either find something in your industry that appeals to her audience – or ‘newsjack’ – which means watch for news that’s just starting to trend and offer an outlined segment idea immediately. Of course, you need to respect normal etiquette when doing this – and is a whole article in itself. Etiquette matters!
- Ask whom she might know that would be a better fit for your topic. Tread carefully here – because you don’t want to be seen as using your source just to get to someone else. However, if you truly have a good relationship and you share a quality, well-intended segment idea that is extremely topical go ahead and ask for the email address of the morning producer – or someone that might be a better fit for your topic / industry.
- Make new friends yourself It’s possible that her station may not be a good fit at all. Perhaps they only produce 2 hours of local news content each day. That’s hardly enough time to get beyond the “gun shots heard” and “local real estate investor lands in jail” news stories. You’re going to just need to maintain a good relationship – and move your ‘getting good PR for startups' aspirations onto a local station that has more air-time to fill. In fact, it would be best if you attempted to make lots of relationships.As you build your personal media list, you’ll just find that certain stories in your industry will work better with some stations and journalists than others. The same goes for news websites and all manner of content producers with large audiences. This is why its critical to keep tabs on your media contacts and see what they are passionate about – and what their website, blog, social media, program, or publication is talking about.
Yes. I recommend that most business owners dedicate one hour a week to building inroads into news organizations or other websites with large audiences that might benefit from your expertise. Getting good PR for startups one of the most effective things I know to GROW your business! Isn't that the #1 job of the business owner, anyway?
Is this difficult?
Not at all. Like all other skills, the more you navigate these waters, the easier it will get. There’s only so much you can learn in a book – or an article like this one, however, so you’re just going to do the deal to get more comfortable. You can only read about playing the piano so much. What you really need is just to crack those knuckles, wish your brother George was here (there’s a Bugs Bunny reference), and start tapping away on those 88 keys.
Is it worth it?
The more you invest in your public relations, the less paid advertising you’ll need to do. If you can get a segment on your local affiliate next month, you may have hundreds of people checking out your website or product. Hopefully, you know your conversion rates and can make some great money from that appearance! What would happen if you were able to get hundreds of new customers who already know, like, and trust you visiting your website each month. Do you think that could increase your income?
With every appearance, you're building your media cred, too. That cred goes a long way. It opens doors for you. It get people replying to your emails. Slap those media logos on your front page and keep building upon your last appearance and reach for larger and larger media outlets. Eventually, you’ll find yourself on the Today Show – or Fortune magazine may do a writeup on the work your doing. The road to getting on major, national media is paved with lots of smaller appearances.
The next step for you is to learn more and put what I teach into practice. Download my free resource guide of the tools that I use – and how I use them to generate lots of sales.