WOOF! We landed the front page of the Hendersonville Times News daily paper over the weekend. Do you know how rrrrrough it is to score front page ink? [Dog whine.] Rrrrrough. After 20 years generating earned editorial media coverage (aka PR coverage), I’ve learned one thing… front page coverage doesn’t come around unless you do this one thing: serve the media’s needs first. Joan Stewart aka The Publicity Hound used to edit newspapers. She taught me years ago that media people loathe press conferences and prefer fun and engaging events. So, when I wanted to gift the Blue Ridge Husky Rescue a media bone, I suggested in a PR Happy Hour training session they offer a fun and engaging event to publicize their new nonprofit. So an urban mushing event was born and I volunteered to “mush” my foster dog with my roller blades. You can see us barking up the newspaper’s front page with smiles. Best of all, the foster-turned-poster dog, Smokey, now is barking up and down his new backyard. See some video of his new home below. WOOF!
Recently a server did “circus style serving” (as he likes to call it) and presented a plate trick when our meals were ready. (See video above.)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “Editorial media contacts do not care about selling your product, service or organization.” I know this comment feels like a lion attacking you at the circus, however, it’s simply true. I have to remind our PR clients about this every day. What the media does care about is educating and entertaining their audiences (listeners, readers, and viewers). So, send tips and tidbits, instead of contacting the media to ‘sell’ your wares. (By the way, if you’re contacting editorial media to sell your product, service or organization, you should simply ask for the advertising department instead. The editorial departments will NOT have time to manage your advertising suggestions.)
What most people want when they say, “I need PR” is what is known as earned media coverage. This is where you, your product or organization is a source for a broadcast segment or print article, not a subject of advertising (aka commercials). Tidbits and tips show the media how you can educate or entertain their audience best. It adds just the right type of sparkle. Think of it as added value for the media. Then, they can figure out how you and your tips & tidbits fit inside the story they’re writing and producing for their bosses (and audiences).
Learn how to add value — that extra sparkle — from this example. I was recently having lunch at one of Asheville’s best restaurants, Salsas. A freelance writer I know from Inc. magazine joined me for lunch. Our server surprised us with his “circus style” serving. In other words, instead of just giving us our meals, he added a bonus feature: entertainment. I was enchanted and as such, gladly gave a larger tip. (I also chose to mention Salsas in my blog and viola, now you’re reading about the server and the restaurant. Earned editorial coverage can’t get any better than that!)
How can you add a bonus to what you’re offering the media? Ask yourself that while you watch how our server presented lunch to us and then write to me and let me know what you’re doing. If you have questions about how to add sparkle to your PR campaign, let me know with what area you struggle so I can help you.
When our ‘circus’ server filled up our water, he did some fancy handiwork. Look to see what type of handiwork (a special sparkle) you can add to your next PR campaign:
I want to also add, the server gave me his business card that clearly indicated he was a circus style server so that I could send him a link from my Internet posting. Circus style server. Brilliant branding!
He didn’t know I was a publicist. He sure is brilliant on how to network, though. When you contact the media, always make sure they know how to contact you back, especially after hours. I can’t tell you how many media people have told me over the past two decades how many times they’re pitched with no phone number or follow-up information. Don’t be the clown at your own PR circus. Instead, be the PR Ringmaster and wow the media with entertainment, education and most importantly, how you can be contacted.