by Melissa Talago | Featured Contributor
You open up a magazine and see your competitor staring back at you in a brilliant feature. You are instantly assailed with conflicting thoughts:
‘How did they do that?’
‘Why were they picked and not me?’
‘I’m better than them, I should be in there.’
‘I feel sick just thinking about having my picture in a magazine.’
‘I’ll never be brave enough to do that.’
Getting publicity is a brilliant way of getting your small business seen by a huge audience for free. And it is the quickest way to build your credibility as an expert in whatever it is you do.
But so many small business owners are scared of getting publicity. Their fears include:
- Not knowing what stories they have that would be of interest to the press
- Thinking they’re not expert enough to be quoted in a paper, radio or TV
- Not knowing how to contact the press and being scared they’ll do or say the wrong thing
- Worrying that people will think they are boasting
- Being too successful; they can’t cope with the influx of new business
- Hating the limelight
If these fears sound familiar, here’s how to tackle them:
Not knowing what stories would be of interest to the press
Open a newspaper, magazine or look at one of your favourite blogs. What do you find interesting? Now ask yourself why you find it interesting? I’ll bet you’ll notice that it is relevant to you the reader. It isn’t a sales pitch from a company; it’s a human interest, colourful story perhaps with some practical tips or suggestions. If you want to know what is of interest to the press, start with the reader. What would be of interest to their readers and be sure you offer that. The more topical a story is i.e. relevant to something that is currently happening, the greater your chances of getting featured.
Not being enough of an expert
Write down what it is you do really well. You probably do it so well you don’t even realise it may not be as easy for everyone else. That automatically makes you an expert. Stop thinking you’re not good enough. If you are good at what you do and you know more about it than the average person, you are an expert. And if you can back up what you know with facts, figures or real life examples, the press will want to speak to you.
Not knowing how to contact the press or saying the wrong thing
Journalists are human beings, so treat them like you would any other human being. But be aware that they are busy human beings. Be polite (ask ‘is now is a good time to chat’ if calling), relevant (explain quickly and succinctly why you’re contacting them and what your story is) and responsive (get back to them fast if they’ve got in touch with you). If they say no, chalk it up to experience and learn for the next time.
As for saying the wrong thing, write out your main messages that you want to get across and have a practice run in the mirror if you’re feeling anxious. If it’s a subject you’re expert in, you will speak with confidence. Also remember that many journalists don’t even want an interview. If you can send them a few lines in an email, that’ll do the trick and you’ll have time to edit your words before you hit send!
Worrying about appearing boastful
If you have something relevant, interesting and useful to say to the readers/listeners/viewers of a media outlet, you will come across as someone worth listening to rather than boastful. In fact, instead of seeing yourself as boastful, believe that you are providing a service to others – whether that’s with useful content and advice or as an inspirational role model. Remember, keep thinking about what you are giving the audience. And if it’s something of value, it won’t ever be seen as boastful.
Being too successful
This is a legitimate concern, particularly if you are going to appear in a national paper or TV show. It can propel small businesses into the spotlight in a big way. But if you’re expecting a big piece of coverage, you typically get time to prepare. So check with your web hosting company about the number of visitors your site can support at once. Have back up staff you can call on in case you get deluged. Create a lead page that asks people to sign up for your service once it next becomes available. It’s a great way to get email sign ups and let’s you manage an influx of new business enquiries.
Hating the limelight
If you are a solopreneur and you hate the limelight, you have two choices: 1) Live with the limitations that hiding from the limelight will put on your business 2) Get a business coach or media training to help you get over your fears. You are your business. The more you can put a face to it, the more successful you are likely to be. Yes the first time you do an interview may be terrifying. But it’s like bungee jumping. Scary to do, but once it’s over, utterly exhilarating. And you’ll want to do it again and again.
Publicity is a brilliant tool for entrepreneurs. There are plenty of tools, training and advice out there to prepare you. All you have to do is take the plunge.
Campfire Communications offers an online PR course to teach small businesses how to do their own PR and get publicity.
Melissa Talago: I am founder and chief fire starter at Campfire Communications. After spending 20 years working as a communications expert for some of the biggest brands in the world and some of the most exciting start ups, I realised that what I love most is helping small businesses figure out what their story is. I coach my clients to do their own PR, help them define their messaging, write captivating copy and provide ad hoc marketing help when they feel a bit stuck. I can spot a good story from a mile off. I know how to get a small business into the press and will teach entrepreneurs how to do this for themselves. I can express what other people are trying to achieve with their business even when they can’t succinctly say it themselves. I use words to paint such a compelling story that customers want to engage and buy. And I give good, practical, easy to understand advice on how to get businesses noticed. Most importantly, I offer a fresh perspective, a sense of adventure and encourage small businesses to think big so that they can live the life they want, doing the things they love. And I would love to work with you too!
P.S. I love the smell of woodsmoke, being outdoors, huddling round a campfire and having a chat with friends. It’s where the best stories are told.