Two New Brunswick entrepreneurs and PR pros want to help business big and small get covered both in the media and with a good public relations strategy.
Crystal Richard and Renee Warren‘s new book Get Covered, is based on the content they created when they worked together as colleagues at Onboardly Media Inc., a PR and Marketing agency founded by Warren out of Moncton.
The book takes a practical, easy-to-read approach to teach entrepreneurs and founders how to get media coverage for their startup or small business in the ever-evolving digital landscape. It covers securing media coverage, how to extend the momentum of your coverage, and how to grow a base of fans and supporters.
Huddle sat down for a chat with Richard and Warren about the book, the most common PR mistakes small businesses make and the benefit of having a strong PR strategy, even when you don’t think you need one:
Where did the idea to write a book come about?
Warren: Long story short, when we were running Onboardly, we had such great content on our blog and we had enough of it too. I thought, “why not just consolidate all of this stuff into a little book?” Which was not something anyone would ever advise a writer to do because you have to make a logical sequence of all of this content. So we started writing this book and we ended up just using our content as a reference and reframing it as a proper book.
For me and Crystal, we talked to hundreds of startups over the course of the years that we were in OnBoardly and we realized there’s a lot of people that we couldn’t help either because of time or budget or whatever it was. So we thought if we wrote this book, this would give them a leg-up in understanding how to get PR for their startups or small business. We just really wanted to give back to the community and create this book.
Who is this book for, is it just for startups?
Warren: No. We worked with a lot of startups, but really anybody can use it. If you’re a small mom and pop shop, if you’re a small business owner, or even if you’re just starting out online. There’s a lot of tips for people that are in the early stages of their companies.
Richard: I actually spoke about it at BlogJam Atlantic conference last year. There were a lot of content creators and bloggers in the room. They can use it too, even if you’re just a one-woman or a one-man show. Like Renee said, it’s startups, entrepreneurs, small business owners, managers. It could even be if you have a company and there is a really eager and keen marketing and communications person on the team that wants to get more coverage for their company. It’s doesn’t necessarily has to be the founder that thinks of it. It can be that employee that says, “I want to get us some more media coverage, I’m going to order this book.”
Why do you think particularly startup and small businesses struggle PR?
Warren: From my perspective, a lot of them just don’t know where to start. They think that you write a press release or you send one quick email to your favourite publication and then they’ll be interested and talk to you and cover your story. There’s a lot more work that goes into getting media coverage and it started with relationship building and finding the right journalists or reporters to talk to, crafting the right pitch, whether or not to include a press release.
There are so many different dynamics depending on what publication you’re reaching out to, what type of media, the pitch, how you approach them, all of these things. It’s not just a one-size-fits-all. It depends on your industry, the publication, the time of year, so many factors that we include in the book that help people do the PR by themselves.
What are some of the most common mistakes you see small businesses make when it comes to PR?
Richard: I think the biggest one is that so many of them assume they don’t have a story. That’s the biggest misconceptions because any startup, any company, any founder has a story. There is a reason why they started that company. Maybe they wanted to make a million dollars, but maybe it’s because they wanted to change the world. But everyone has a story and I think there are so many people who don’t start because they don’t think that they have something that’s media worthy.
Another mistake that still makes me cringe when I see people do it, is to automate pitches or send mass pitches [to media]. They will not put a name on the email and then send it “bcc” to 100 different writers or publications and expect to get amazing media coverage. Journalists aren’t stupid, they can tell when something has been mass produced. Yet, there are still so many businesses that do that. I get that we’re all running out of time and everybody wants to do PR and it does take a lot of time. I get that’s probably why people think that if it’s a mass pitch, it’ll get them media faster, but it’s just such a big no-no.
Some companies don’t even have a PR strategy or person, why do you think PR is something businesses need to care about?
Richard: It gives you the opportunity to have control over your story and your public image. If you’re a business, people are going to talk about you whether you want them to or not and that can be good or bad. If you invest in PR and have a PR person on your team or work with a publicist, you have control to some degree over what’s being said about you and you have an opportunity to really tell your story and get brand awareness.
Advertising is wonderful and it’s a traditional form of getting customers, but on top of that, you really need to be sharing your story and getting it out there. Maybe that’s media coverage and maybe that’s just doing really cool stuff … by investing in PR, you really have the chance to get your voice out there and have your company on the map.
What’s the one key thing you hope people take away from the book?
Richard: Know your story, know your ‘why’ and know that relationships are worth their weight in gold. I didn’t get to where I am today and be able to build a successful business without the relationships that I’ve spent seven to eight years forming. Relationships are everything. Even if you’re starting out, don’t be afraid to in immediate network to see what relationships you have now that you can leverage and just constantly be out there and continue to build relationships.
Whether that’s on Twitter, in Facebook groups, on LinkedIn, going to in-person events, conferences, always be making and building relationships and nurturing them. Not just building them, using them and never talking to them again. Make sure to always be nurturing those relationships.