For most entrepreneurs or small business owners, getting a public “shout out” in Forbes once is a big-dream goal, but today I’m going to tell you about an entrepreneur – and busy mother of two – who managed to land powerful publicity from the prestigious media outlet – DIY style – three times in one year.
I love so many things about this story…
- It’s a story that wouldn’t have happened had she not believed enough in herself and her story to share it…
- It’s a success that can be attributed to learning basic public relations strategy and then taking action – no previous contacts, connections, or “magic” was involved…
- It’s the story of a self-made small business taking a chance and reaping the rewards…
- And, it’s a story I am going to tell you today so that you can get inspired – and educated – on how to take strategic and high-reward chances like this for your own business and brand.
Guess who else I have helping me tell you this story? The entrepreneur in question herself, Zaida Khaze (founder of innovative mommy must-have Wiggletot) who was kind enough to lay out exactly how she made each Forbes story happen and how you can too!
Get all the #PRSexy details below!
This story was brought to my attention just a few weeks ago when the post below popped into the Press for Success Facebook Community:
My reaction to this post was a mixture of excitement, pride, and – like Whitney Houston – I got so emotional about her success. I’ll just be honest with you, I did.
You see, I’ve been lucky enough to get to know Zaida’s business and her story – mostly virtually – because she’s a student of mine, attending my free, bi-weekly online PR training and in-person weekend workshops.
What I want you to know about this mompreneur is that she’s just like most of you:
- She’s a real-life entrepreneur trying to make it happen – and doing most of the work on her own.
- She has no traditional PR training.
- She doesn’t have a Rolodex (okay, mobile phone) packed with emails and phone numbers of her press targets and media movers and shakers.
- She’s a mother of two who has limited time and bandwidth and is running a business while managing her personal responsibilities.
Her powerful “Press for Success Story” wasn’t necessarily something others may have predicted – especially when it happened three times – but it did – and armed with her PR skills, it’s only the beginning of her story…
Hoping for a similar publicity situation with your business and your own dream media target? Do the following things:
- Check out my takeaway PR Golden Nuggets directly following it.
- Read Zaida’s “How I landed Forbes 3x in One Year” story.
- Get confident, get strategic, and take action! Your dreams and intentions must be backed by action in order for them to happen!
How I Landed Forbes 3x in One Year:
Advice from an Entrepreneur Who Made it Happen
Prior to it happening if someone told you that you’d be in Forbes 3x in one year what would you have thought?
Never. I was completely surprised that an editor even responded to my pitch never mind giving me my first feature. She even responded to me saying that she saw many of my previous emails and was saving them for the future.
Did you pitch yourself 100% by yourself?
I always pitch 100% by myself. In the case of PR leads, once I know what an editor is looking for I have learned to trust my instincts. If I do not have an immediate answer jump up at me for what they are looking for, I believe through experience that is not a fit. I would say 90% of my pitches that resulted in press were created and sent quickly for that very reason.
Can you tell us about each of the 3 Forbes spots (just sort of what the opportunity/PR lead was, what you answered, what the story was about?)
The first article was my biggest: a two-page Forbes feature which discusses my business and how a demo video aided in my PR success. The editor wanted what didn’t work before finding out what did work.
My second article included me and my business as one of 18 rising entrepreneurs that auditioned for Shark Tank. I saw the PR lead when I was visiting family in Toronto, Canada and I decided to pitch it. A few hours later they asked for a picture with me and my product! When I returned home from my trip ( 7 a.m. in the morning) I casually asked my husband if he could take a picture of me standing over my product. I put on my shark tank audition bracelet to make the picture more authentic. What you don’t see in the picture is that I am still wearing my pajamas. I only changed my shirt. I told myself not to get excited, then I submitted the picture and stopped dwelling on it – and then received an email immediately asking if I could get a baby in the picture with me and my product. This was yet another last-minute challenge, but long story short: I received an email the next day telling me I was in and letting me know when I could look forward to viewing the article!
My latest Forbes moment almost didn’t happen! You see, I had a business tip that I knew would be perfect for Forbes readers – it wasn’t overly used and it could help a lot of people. That said, part of me almost didn’t because I thought, “I’m too busy, this could be a waste of time”, and I also feared I would be bothering the editor, because I’d just done a story with her recently. Would there be room for me again? I mean they did already feature me…
Thankfully, a louder voice came into my head telling me to pitch them because I really did have a great tip to share. So I did it! I submitted my pitch on Friday and I received a confirmation email a day later. A quick word about that pitch: in it I gave all the details about the tip in my pitch (I didn’t make them pry it out of me in other emails) and that information I sent was exactly what they used – nearly verbatim!
PR BONUS ALERT:
I was so excited when I found out I was being featured in Forbes again. When the editor posted the article on LinkedIn, she also used my product picture. Also, because I was featured three times, when you look at my last article, my first article is one of the “Recommended by Forbes” articles.
(Editor’s note: All of that real, trusted, buzz = awareness and visibility for Zaida’s business!)
What PR strategies did you have to apply while pitching these PR opportunities?
- Pitch your story, tip, or feature to the right editor – the person who covers that content specifically! (You can find this out by doing a little bit of research). Also, give them content that is fresh, not the same tip everyone else is sharing, and make it truly valuable.
- For example, I reached out to an actual “PR editor” at Forbes with my tip on how to turn a PR flop into something better . I knew that her audience would want to read something unique but that could still apply to masses of people. Because my personality has always been “how to make a dollar out of 15 cents” creating unique and valuable solutions was something I knew I could do for them – and I was right!
- Know the editor. Deliver something, unique, and of value!
When you shared your success story on Facebook you said you heard “Sabina’s voice in your head” while pitching the 3rd Forbes article that you landed – can you tell us what the situation was there in terms of, what was the situation, what you almost didn’t do and what Sabina taught you that was running in your head when you did it!
My mind kept telling me that I am too busy with so many things to do professionally and personally. Why should I pitch when I was already used and that I may offend the editor and/or it was a long shot? Fortunately another voice said that I had a really good answer and it felt right to pitch it. I asked myself, “What would Sabina say in her pitch?”
I kid you not I heard your voice saying “I know you featured me within the last year but I had to share this tip with you.”
What have been your biggest lessons you’ve learned since you began doing your own PR outreach?
My biggest lesson is to go with my gut. My first pitch I felt Forbes was way out of my league but I had a good tip to share so I kept reminding myself of that every time my mind tried to talk me out of pitching the magazine.
I have also learned to use my gut the other way. In the past I used to pitch publications where I would try so hard. I found out that those forced pitched never lead anywhere. If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right. I try to go with the current when I am pitching. I pitch a lot lot less than I used to but I am getting better results.
Finally, every time I have self-doubt, I think of my first Forbes editor. I owe that amazing editor so much because she gave me confidence by featuring me. I always remind myself of that when I’m in a slump regarding my business.
What are you doing now PR-wise that you never though you’d be doing?
I didn’t know I would love pitching the media so much. It is the best euphoric feeling when I receive positive responses from new contacts!
If you could give entrepreneurs who are doing their own PR and trying to get press one piece of it advice what would it be?
I would tell people trying to get their first press to learn from my mistakes. I spent the first few months trying to get press that at that time was a little out of my league, big publications like Forbes, parenting magazines etc… I didn’t hear any responses. Not that it can’t happen, but it helps to start smaller and build up your buzz and brand – not to mention your experience.
No matter how good your product or tip is you stand a better chance if you follow a hierarchy. I started small and I pitched Forbes many times but only heard back from them after having another national publication already under my belt. This helped validate me as a brand and expert to trust.
Speaking of that validation, make sure it’s visible on your website: When someone clicks on your website it should have validation including testimonials, achievements, press and awards you may have received.
Follow Zaida online:
A Few Golden Nuggets Before You Go….
After hearing Zaida’s story do you think your own “Forbes Moment” is within reach? What is your Forbes? What press are you hoping to share your story or expertise with?
Is it the Today Show? Is it O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine? Is it Inc.? Fast Company? Your local hometown newspaper? Marie Claire magazine?
It’s time to stop dreaming about it, and start taking action! Who knows, maybe you’ll be one of our future success stories!
I want to leave you with a few quick takeaways from Zaida’s story that bear repeating:
- Spend some time getting to know the media outlet and your press targets prior to reaching out – it will help you create a more targeted email with tips or a story that’s a good fit.
- Try to deliver content, story, or tips that are unique and not the “same old, same old” we read, hear, or see regularly. This will help you stand out.
- You must take your chance! Fight the voices and excuses that are acting as barriers to action. Your business will thank you!
Don’t miss the next free PR Training and boost your publicity skills like Zaida! Be sure you’re signed up for my free newsletter and you’ll never miss a class!
Ready to deep dive into your PR campaign and really begin taking action and getting press? Start my online, self-guided PR class, Press for Success, today!
Did you fight through self-doubt, take action, and get yourself press like Zaida? I’d love to hear your story – share it in the comments below!