It is often said that any press is good press. But in this day and age of social media reviews and people capturing all types of events with their ready-to-record cellphones, it can be argued that a positive news story about your company can help you grow your business faster while a negative news story can sink it just as quick.
How do you create good PR when you’re not always out and about in the public? In an attempt to answer this question, we’ve reached out to Erika Taylor Montgomery, CEO of Three Girls Media, Inc. Three Girls Media is a boutique marketing and public relations agency headquartered in the Seattle area that interestingly got its name from the notion that if you want to spread news quickly, all you have to do is tell three girls and watch it go! Anyway, this is what we learned.
What Makes for Good PR?
“The media is always looking for stories that share something ‘newsworthy,’” says Montgomery. If there is a new service that you have decided to offer that sets you apart from others in your field, this could be considered newsworthy. If one of your clients has recently achieved exceptional results after doing business with you, this could be newsworthy as well. Both of these stories are a good way to capture the attention of journalists and other news sources while soft-selling the solutions you provide.
For example, Three Girls Media pitched a chiropractic client to the press, sharing a new therapeutic technique that was being used to treat a specific common condition. They also included a 6-month patient study to back up the efficacy of the treatment. “The local media loved the story and it resulted in newspaper and magazine coverage,” Montgomery says. And it brought more patients through their door.
Another option is to use what Montgomery calls “feel good stories” to help promote your business. This includes offering free products or services to certain populations, such as single mothers, homeless persons, or disadvantaged youth. “Doing community service work is something that will always resonate with the press,” she adds.
Think of things you can do that the press may be interested in covering. Of course, you also have to be genuine in your actions or you risk being seen as a company that only does good things to increase its revenues. If the public senses that you have bad motives, it could have an opposite effect.
Press-Based Mediums to Consider
Once you have your newsworthy story, the next step is to reach out to the press. “A good story can fit any press medium,” says Montgomery. TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, websites, and blogs can all be used for this purpose.
Finding local television and radio stations, area newspapers, and community magazines is easy. You can likely come up with a list right off the top of your head or with a quick glance at a grocery-store newsstand. To find websites and blogs that may be interested in your story requires a bit more work.
Identifying online sites that can help you grow your business requires first considering which sites your ideal clients visit most. Being published on these platforms increases the likelihood that they will see the story. This increases their familiarity with your company, hopefully in a way that encourages them to want to learn more.
“If your story is visually impactful, aim for TV coverage or a newspaper, magazine, or online site that will include pictures,” Montgomery suggests. In some cases, they may require you to capture these images yourself. In other instances, they may send a photographer to your business.
“Also keep lead times in mind,” says Montgomery. “If you’re looking for fast coverage or have a super timely story, TV, newspapers, and online press will be your best bet. Monthly magazines work on 4 to 6-month lead times, so coverage in those won’t come out for at least that long. Weekly magazines have a shorter turnaround time, but still not as fast as TV, newspapers, and online outlets.”
If You Have Trouble Getting Your Positive PR Story Out There
On the surface, getting good PR appears to be a rather simple process. However, like everything else in business, it isn’t always as easy as it seems. For instance, there are certain times of day that are best for releasing news on each type of medium. What can you do if you’re struggling to highlight your company in a positive way?
“If you want media success, it almost always helps to work with a professional who has the media contacts and knows how to position a great pitch,” says Montgomery. “PR pros not only know who to contact at which media outlets, but they can craft your story in a way the press will find appealing.” And they can usually do it faster than if you try to figure it out for yourself, saving a lot of time and frustration in the process.