Practice and Preparation Are Key For Brand Promotion
When it comes to media exposure, entrepreneurs often find themselves as the human reflection of their brand. This can be positive or negative, depending on your preparedness and intention. Carefully crafting a long-term brand and media strategy is essential for being ready when a media opportunity arises.
Recently, our CEO Stacy Jones sat down with an experienced journalist who has honed in on the best practices for promoting your brand. In this blog post, Hollywood Branded dives into establishing yourself as an industry expert and interview etiquette so you can ace your brand's media exposure and get free PR, from the expertise of multi-media journalist Alex Lyman.
A Little More About Alex
Alex Lyman is a media professional with a career that has spanned television and print news, independent film, marketing writing, blogging, media coaching, and business consulting.
Currently, Alex is a senior copywriter at her alma mater of Western New England in the Division for Marketing and Enrollment Management. She has been a blogger for The Huffington Post, contributed a variety of guest blogs for several companies, and had made appearances on business-related podcasts. Alex also freelances as a writer and media/business coach with start-up companies and small businesses.
Interview Transcript Highlights
Question: Let's talk a little bit about the first steps when someone wants to get some exposure for themselves. What's the first thing they need to do?
Answer: The first thing, and probably the hardest thing, is really taking a hard look at yourself. How are you going to pitch yourself as an expert, an industry thought leader, those sorts of things? If you're an entrepreneur, you are an expert in technically two places, because you're an expert in the industry that you're in, whether that's tech, or being an influencer, or a certain product area.
You're also an expert being an entrepreneur, because entrepreneurship is so hot right now, and everybody's always looking for advice, and everybody's sharing their experiences in the hopes of helping others. So that's two areas and two different functions. You can look at those two areas and kind of start crafting a message. What is it that you want to share with the media?
Now, keep in mind, this is not a sell. This is not a sell at all, because news is not in the business of advertising. If you want to sell your product, or sell your services, buy an ad and be done with it. That's probably easier bet at this point. Because when you're being this thought leader, this is more of a marathon strategy.
It's a long term strategy. It's not something that you can be on the news today, and you're going to see a quick turnaround tomorrow on the ROI. That's not really how it works. It's really important that you show that you're an expert and that your business is viable, because you know what you're doing, and as you make these appearances and get people in the community to know and trust you, that's when, if they need your services down the line, they might be like, "Those people on TV that I see all the time, they seem to know what they're doing."
So it's really not about the sell. You have to be super, super careful of that. Although, they might give you the chance, depending on the situation, to kind of mention what you have coming up. Again, it very much depends. But don't really push that unless you're asked. It's really important that you hone that message.
If you're a tech company, and this is something I see a lot, is when there's a credit card hack, or different things going on in the tech industry, the local tech people come in and they can talk about that super knowledgeably, and it works really well. But there's other areas of tech that could kind of show up in the breaking news, so you want to make sure you're very well versed in your industry and different areas, because you could really be asked anything. You have to have an answer, otherwise you don't look like an expert anymore.
That's a news person's favorite thing, especially in local news, is that they like to take the big news from the nation and the world and localize it. You're kind of being a local expert, so you have to know what you're talking about before you do one thing, otherwise you're going to run into problems down the road.
Question: Perfect. So basically, what you're saying here, is all this is about building your brand. It is about establishing yourself as a brand, potentially a little separate from the business that you are in, because you're just establishing that you are an authority, you're an expert, you are a thought leader, you are someone who is able to take the reigns and respond to questions. Is that correct?
Answer: Yes, absolutely. It's somebody who's not going to freeze up on camera. You have a lot to share and contribute that provides value, and that's the biggest thing, is, how are you going to provide value? Because if you don't have that, it's not useful, and they're going to dump you pretty quick. So that's really, really important.
There is also another thing. I get really excited about this, but I admit I also get very upset when it's not done. It's that you need to create an easy to read press release. And your contact information needs to be right at the top or very large so I can't miss it. What happens is, when you're in news, you are inundated with hundreds of press releases every single day. You might not read all of them, because it's just too many, and it's not manageable.
Please, please, please make it easy on your producers, and your reporters, to find out how to contact you if they're interested. How I like to build a press release, at least in this situation, is that I'll kind of work backwards. Your last paragraph should be your bio, your about me, which is basically, what's your experience, and what makes you an expert. Right? We need to know kind of what your credentials are, and are you legit? That's how we're going to know, going through your about me paragraph. Alternatively, if you're representing a company, a little blurb about your company can be last, and then your about me can be second to last.
Then, again, moving backwards, talk about the main subject. Whether its breaking news in your area with a topic you can talk on, or a multi-perspective issue and showing your side. Make it very clear, because journalists have to try to get different perspectives. They might have somebody to be your opposite, on the opposite side of the table. So be clear about what position you represent, and what you can add to the conversation.
Question: Yeah. 100%. What else? What's the next step?
Answer: This one is always a interesting one. It's try to build professional relationships with journalists. Because they're people too. You might have the local news anchor who seems like a local celebrity, but they have family, they have friends, they're regular humans.
My favorite story is when I worked in news, I was texting the anchor, who was pretty well known at the time in our local area, that I was about to work with. I was texting her, and I laughed about something she sent me, and my sister goes to me, "Who are you texting?" And I said, "Oh, Trisha." She goes, "Trisha Taskey, the anchor, you text her, and she texts you back?" I was like, "Yes, she's my coworker like anybody else. She's a regular person with kids and a family."
Don't be afraid if you see one in the public. Strike up the conversation, but when you meet them in person, that's not always the time to give your pitch.Treat them like a new acquaintance, get to know them. Ask about them. Ask about the stories they cover. You're kind of ending with, "Hey, if you ever need me for X, Y, and Z topic, let me know." But don't hit them in the face with it, because usually, if you see them, they're probably not working. They don't necessarily want to talk about work, like the rest of us.
So, build almost a friendship, or at least a professional relationship, if you can. Get to know what the different journalists cover. Some people will focus more on health, some people will focus more on tech. Some people are really hot on breaking news all the time. Everybody sort of has their little niche they fit into, so try to connect with those reporters that specialize in your area, or seem to cover your area pretty often.
We all appreciate a good news tip. Some stories come to fruition because somebody gave us a tip. Most news stations have some sort of general email you can send your tip to, and it gets distributed to everybody, but again, once you send that, maybe connect with a certain reporter that you know fits the bill pretty well, and might be a good storyteller for you. Try to be strategic about who you talk to, and how you make that happen.
Question: I assume you don't treat them like a hard sell when you do them on the street, because you're going to have that visceral reaction that you're going to give them, where they just want to cut bait and run. Where they're like, "I'm out of here. Crazy person. Gone."
Answer: Exactly. It feels terrible, too, when people come up to you for a hard sell. You're like, "Oh, you don't even care to talk to me. You just want to know what I can do for you," and really, you should be saying, "What can you do for me? How can you get me a great story for my job that is going to be really great to report on, and really important to my views, and is going to help me kind of have another notch in my career for a really great story?"
You really need to be looking for the triple win, for you, the reporter, and the audience.
Question: That's a great way to spin it. Is there anything else you can do to be prepared?
Answer: Yes. One thing, especially with TV, is don't let your interview be the first time that you actually work through your talking points. A lot of people think, "Oh, I can talk off the cuff. I do public speaking." But the minute the camera turns on, they don't know what to do. What do you do with your hands? Where do you look?
Those are all the things you should really be testing out beforehand. It goes along with honing your message. Figuring out what you want to say and how you want to say it so you're not stumbling over your words every five minutes.You can keep it really simple and practice with another colleague, you can have them interview you. Record it on your iPhone so you can go back and kind of see, what did you look like when you did it? What did you sound like when you did it? What do you want to tighten up a little bit? Practicing that real life scenario is super important, and it'll help you feel so much more prepared.
You can also hire a media coach who specializes in these sort of things. Especially if you're having trouble honing your message. If you're, "I don't really know what I want to say," kind of having that outside set of eyes and that outside perspective can really, really help you narrow down what you want to say and what might be useful.
Because usually, they're pretty good at coming in and looking from afar and say, "This is what you should talk about. This is what people want to know." So sometimes just getting that outside perspective is really helpful.
Check Out The Podcast!
Want to hear more of Alex's advice when it comes to promoting your brand with trust? Check out the full podcast episode below!
Promoting your brand or company in the best way is essential to it's success. Check out some of our other blog posts for more tips to leading a successful company!
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