Become A Media Darling

Positioning oneself as a trustworthy expert is paramount and ongoing for B2B professional service providers.  Everything we can do to establish credibility and stand out in a crowded marketplace can add to billable hours, our reason for being. “The media,” meaning television, radio, magazines, newspapers, industry journals, podcasts and blogs, help us spread the word about our expertise to a wide audience.

Persuading media gatekeepers—editors and producers—to invite you to give a quote or become a featured player in a magazine or newspaper article, become a guest on a podcast, television, or radio broadcast, or write an article for a journal is not easy.  Many of your peers are vying to do the same.

Therefore, you must find ways to separate yourself from the pack and showcase your potential appeal and relevance to audiences.  Below are a few ways to make that happen. When reaching out to journalists, editors or producers, I suggest that you call first. Learn the name of the appropriate editor for your business category before contacting a magazine or newspaper.  Read a half dozen or so of his/her items and find out what s/he has written before you try to pitch your story.  If the response is positive, only then will you send your one-sheet bio and photo.

HARO

Help A Reporter Out will send to your inbox a boatload of emails every week, but you could obtain a few requests for quotes in exchange for the inconvenience.  HARO gives Freelancers and other independent business owners real opportunities to build  credibility through media exposure.  One will also learn how to build relationships with print and online media gatekeepers. You can eventually claim the title of expert and have the article clippings to prove it.

Social media and content marketing

If you’ve got 5,000 or more social media followers on at least one platform, or an impressive number of newsletter followers or blog subscribers, media outlets will pay attention.  Present your stats to the media gatekeeper when you get him/her on the phone and remember to include that info on the one-sheet bio that you’ll send, along with your photo, to media outlets.  Those with large social media and online followings know that your big following can boost their viewers/readers/listeners and that translates into additional advertising dollars.  It is a pathway to the short list of potential interview candidates.

Write a book

The barrier to enter the realm of book authors has dropped precipitously with the rise of self-publishing and cheaper printing costs.  Investigate self-publishing houses both local and national.  Find a topic and title that will grab your business’s target market and you’re on your way to becoming an author.

No matter what anyone tells you, hire an independent content editor to ensure the continuity and flow of your story and also hire a copy editor or proofreader to eliminate grammatical and spelling errors.  Your book is part of your brand, so it must represent you well.  You will be judged. A ball park budget for a 150 page book could be about $5000.  Write it off as a business expense, since your book is marketing collateral.

Make lots of money

If at least once in the past five years your business has grossed $1,000,000 (or close to it), then go ahead a lay claim to the fact that you’ve built a million-dollar business.  OK, so maybe you’ve grossed only half of that and it’s too much of a stretch to put yourself into the million dollar category.  But if indisputably you’ve created a very lucrative business, then speak up.  Media outlets will want you to tell their readers/viewers/listeners how you did it and how they can do it, too.

And the winner is…

Formal recognition of your success as an independent business professional is very powerful.  Nominate yourself for a chamber of commerce award, neighborhood business association, professional association, or any other business award that is presented somewhere.  If you win even third prize, then spread the word by adding the photo of you accepting the award to your preferred social media platforms and send a press release and photo to the business editor of local newspapers.  Add this information also to your one-sheet.

Judge a business award

About five or six years ago, I was invited to judge The Stevie Awards/ Women in Business category.  That I’m qualified to judge the expertise of my peers has impressed a couple of decision-makers.  There are many business awards being doled out.  Join a professional association and get yourself on the awards committee.  Add the judging duty to your LinkedIn page and media one-sheet.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Photograph: In 1955 Dr. Joyce Brothers, pictured with Boxing Commissioner Eddie Egan (her big question was about boxing), became the only female grand prize winner on “The $64,000 Question” (1955-1958). Brothers parlayed the win into a long and lucrative television career, which began in 1958 with a show on which she dispensed advice. She went on to take guest roles in dozens of TV shows and appearances on talk shows.

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Getting Good PR

Every Freelance consultant and business owner has an eye open for good publicity opportunities.  Articles written about one’s business are far more effective than paid advertisements,  because they are considered objective opinions.  Other than word of mouth by satisfied clients who sing your praises,  there is nothing better than good PR to help build the buzz that makes you look credible and successful and worthy of still more business.  So what are the best ways to get good publicity?

If you have the kind of business that can potentially attract more than sporadic media attention,  then building relationships with editors and writers whose publications and stories focus on your category of business is a good use of your time.  Once you’ve identified good media prospects by reading their articles,  send a press release that details an event that would interest.  In your email,  reference an article or two of theirs that you’ve read.  Follow up with a telephone call.  Offer to take that person to lunch or coffee.  Even if your press release doesn’t get you any editorial space,   you may be called to provide comments as an expert when other stories are written.  Check in periodically,  to maintain the relationship.  Meeting for coffee every once in a while can pay off.

Bloggers have lots of influence and it is sometimes a challenge to reach them.  Blog Dash is a site I recently found that helps you connect with bloggers whom you can hire to spread the good word about your business.  Fifteen categories of business are represented,  from arts to travel,  and numerous bloggers within each category can be reached.  There is a free option,  which will give you no real access to bloggers  (but they will see your business and may comment),  or you can pay up to $50.00/month and be able to pitch bloggers directly and build relationships.  http://blogdash.com

Write a good press release  (see my post Press Release Primer,  3.1.11)  to encourage traditional journalists and bloggers to give your story some editorial space.   They are considered old school in some quarters,  but a press release is still the way to get the word out to journalists and bloggers,  whether or not they know you.   But you have to provide good content and 95%  of the time what a Freelancer or other business person has to say is not considered relevant.  Hint:  when one advertises,  one generally receives editorial space.

Solicitations to provide expert opinion or commentary showcase you to look like the go-to in your field.   Help a Reporter Out HARO  http://helpareporter.com and Seek or Shout  http://sos.cision.com  allow you to respond to requests for quotes on any subject,  from big data to the medical device industry.  Three or four years ago I signed up with HARO but I quickly shut this free service off.  I was nearly buried in emails and I couldn’t take it.

It is obvious that the adage  “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”  was created before the dawn of social media.  Social media can cause a minor PR hiccup,  or negative customer review made by a spiteful customer (or maybe a competitor),  to blow up out of proportion and do you some damage.  Resist the temptation to hand over your social media functions to some 22 year old.  In theory,  social media updates ought to be a great responsibility for a young person who lives this stuff anyway, understands how to get the word out and works cheap.   The problem is,  that young person may not have the wherewithal to give the right answer when something challenging is written.

Creating good buzz about your business is part of the Freelance consultant or business owner’s job.  How to get that done in the most effective manner requires a strategic approach,  like all of your other business activities.  If sporadic PR is what your business attracts,  it is best to engage in a variety of activities to ensure that you appear viable and relevant to clients and colleagues.  You may not get written up,  but you will build a good reputation.   If your business is the type that would attract more press,  then spend the time and money to advertise in the relevant publications and build relationships with journalists who cover your kind of business.   Subscribe to have the ability to reach out to bloggers and see what that does for you.  Budget for a year and then evaluate.  Learn to write a good press release  (see my post  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE,  3.19.13).

Thanks for reading,

Kim