Is there a common thread that runs through and links together all small business publicity success stories?
Could they all be practicing similar actions, behaviors, and strategies, even though their industries, experience levels, heck, their lifestyles are varied and completely different?
Spoiler Alert: The answer is a big heck yes! And that’s good news because if we know that certain behaviors and habits can dramatically increase our chances of publicity success, we can commit to incorporating them into our daily and weekly workflow, in order to reap the benefits!
Now Here’s the Problem: Because I run a small business PR education platform I get at least one email/call/DM/even accosted at parties – YOU NAME IT – on a weekly basis during which someone tells me some version of this:
I’m doing all the right things that you teach and working my tail off when it comes to PR, and I’m just not getting the consistent results I want, what am I doing wrong?
Lucky for me, the answer is always easy, because people think they are doing “all the things”, when in truth, if I ask them to be 100% honest with themselves and tell me if they’re doing six things – the six that I’m laying out for you in the post below, the answer is almost always no. This to me is a win, because if you can admit that you are NOT following these 6 habits of highly successful small business owners when it comes to public relations, and then agree to commit to doing them, things can begin changing immediately!
In this post, I’m going to teach you the 6 habits AND give you specific actions steps to immediately make the part of your own life and business!
Ready to start increasing your chances for PR success RIGHT NOW? Dive into the list below!
#1 They Know That Closed Mouths Don’t Get Fed
The quote, “closed mouths don’t get fed” has been a mantra of mine for years, and if you’re one of my students there is no doubt you’ve heard me proclaim it many a time. In fact, the moment I decided to write this post for you, I knew this would be top of the list because THIS is a habit that is undoubtedly shared by every small business PR success story I encounter: They ask for what they want, dream about, hope to take part of, need to know more about…they just make the asks.
I’m not saying that it is always easy for them, because we’re all human and we all have fears of rejection or “messing up” residing deep within us or even right below the surface. On no, they’ve made those asks when they’re scared, and when they’re not sure if they’ll get a yes, and even when they don’t feel fully “enough”, but my friends, they make the asks.
If you don’t ask for what you want, publicity-wise and business-wise, no one will know you desire it and thus no one will help you get to whatever it is you’re asking for – and I’ll tell you – for the most part, people want to help you get to the ask that your yes seeks! And even if the answer at the end of your ask is a no, this time, it’s better than always wondering “what if I had made the ask?” I know this because I’m one of those people who ask, and some of my most spectacular business moments and relationships have been born from those asks!
Where does the “ask” manifest itself in your public relations work? Asking for press opportunities (often via pitches), asking for an introduction to a member of the media, asking to be considered for a speaking engagement or to participate in an event – even asking for help finding an answer that is keeping you up at night.
MAKE THIS HABIT HAPPEN:
If you do not make the ask, you will never reach your goals, because you can’t get there on your own, and we all need to know how to support you! Open your mouth, make the ask, feed your business. The more you do it, the easier it becomes! I want you to challenge yourself to make one ask every single week. Write it down, commit to it, and do it! Want a goal sheet to help you make it happen? Download one for free, right here!
#2 They Find a “PR Community” for Support & Advice
There are countless quotes and studies written about the impact the people you surround yourself with and spend time with have on who you are as a person, the quality of your life, and your chances of success. This is especially important when it comes to business – and publicity success. PR and publicity success requires you to put in the work mentally and strategically. You need to know what you’re doing, connect with the people who matter, and maintain some level of courage and confidence while you do, or the road to press success will be rocky and less-than-successful.
So take a moment to look at your business “tribe”: Are they people who you can talk “PR shop” with? Can you share relationships, advice, encouragement, and support with them? Are they on the same mission to build media relationships and buzz like you are? Not everyone in your space will be, but you need at least a handful of people who are. They will change the PR game for you, and lead you to exponentially more powerful and sustained publicity success!
For example, just this week during one of our Press for Success Live Office Hour sessions I witnessed to entrepreneurs connecting and dishing about a costume department team one of them wanted to get their products into, which saved the “asker” countless hours of wondering and research. In another “community moment” I watched multiple business owners weigh in on the pitching angle and email that another company wanted the group to workshop. This is what happens when you surround yourself with people want to build their PR skills like you do! PR Magic!
MAKE THIS HABIT HAPPEN:
You don’t have to look far to find and build your PR community! In fact, you can dive in THIS VERY SECOND to the Press for Success PR Prep School Facebook community, and instantly connect to nearly 700 businesses, entrepreneurs, and experts around the world who share your mission and are happy to support it. DIVE RIGHT IN!
#3 They Plan Their Work and Then Work Their Plan
If your current publicity plan sounds something like “ready shoot aim” or “I’m just going to throw a bunch of stuff at a wall and hope it sticks” I can tell you that you’re setting yourself up to hours – days – of wasted time, energy, and effort. You do not have time for that!
Even though the thought of creating a PR plan makes some people’s anxiety kick in and creativity feel stifled, in truth, it will do the opposite. Making weekly and monthly PR goals will help eliminate that feeling that you’re running in twenty directions at once and spinning all the plates! It gives you finite, specific goals and action steps to complete weekly and monthly, and allows you to look back on your work every month and ask, “How did that go? Do we need to change course? What’s working for me and what’s not working for me?”
Just as importantly, when you create a plan in advance in terms of public relations work, you ensure you don’t miss any press-worthy holidays and celebrations that you could “piggyback on” or share use to turn into a related story about your expertise or products.
MAKE THIS HABIT HAPPEN:
Your PR plan doesn’t have to be complex or take days to create. You can begin by building monthly action steps that are aligned with your overall PR goals. Decide what and who you’ll pitch every month to get your message out there effectively and strategically. Need some help – and a template – to make this happen! Join our PR Masterclass and download one immediately! It’s included in all the juicy PR templates, scripts, and tools that come with this video training!
#4 They Invest in Getting to Know the Press Who Cover Their Beat
This single, ongoing habit is essential to ongoing press success yet it’s also the step most people skip. Let me repeat that for the people in the back: You’re skipping this step (for a myriad of reasons and excuses) and then you’re wondering why you aren’t getting publicity or even responses to your emails in the first place.
If you want a member of the media to respond to your emails, FIRST you must spend some time doing good, old-fashion research to figure out who the right person is to tell your story at your target magazines, websites and television shows, but that’s not all…you also need to connect with them.
This getting-to-know-them process can take on different forms, and no I’m not saying you need a sit-down dinner gazing into each other’s eyes. You need to do things like connect with them on social media and when you do, I want you to do more than just follow them, you need to engage with them. Reply to their questions or posts, connect in their InstaStory videos (this has been super powerful for me in my quest to build new media relationships), and leave thoughtful comments under their photos.
Another must: Get to know their content! Read it! Watch it! Compliment them on it (via email or social media) – yes, that’s a thing. If you can’t tell me about some of the recent stories or content your target media has created and you want to be a future story, you’ve got a problem. And if you can’t tell me a little bit about who you target press is in the first place, I can tell you why you’re hearing crickets when you email them.
MAKE THIS HABIT HAPPEN:
I’ve got two, FREE, ways I can help you kickstart this habit and strategy:
#1 – Take my (free) video class on finding media contacts for your story and building media relationships. Watch it HERE.
#2 – Master the art of the writing the press complimentary emails about their content via a “Praise Email” – Read about it HERE
#5 They Remember it’s PR, not ER
Listen, I know that publicity is a vital part of your business success – I mean I TEACH it for a living! But I also know that just like with everything in life, if we overthink it, and act like every email we write and press send on, or every “pass” we receive, is the one thing that will make or break us, we will never be able to move forward, get into our PR workflow, and accomplish the things that need to get done in order for us to build our buzz, brand, and business!
During my first PR job at a very major company, I would sometimes fall into that overthinking, taking myself too seriously, analysis paralysis zone. Fortunately, I had a sensible boss who pulled me aside and reminded me that, “It’s PR, not ER, Sabina. You’re building a brand not saving the world.”
Listen, I’m not saying I don’t sometimes fall into that overthinking zone, and I’m also not saying that some of your businesses aren’t going to change the world – I don’t doubt they will. But what I am saying is that if you don’t learn to avoid the path to analysis paralysis and realize that progress is always better than perfection, you’ll never be able to make those changes in the world – big and small – you started your business for in the first place!
MAKE THIS HABIT HAPPEN:
My best solution to my tendency to get way too “up in my own head” when it comes to public relations and media outreach is to have a few go-to people who can quickly help ground me in reality (my husband, my close gal pals), who remind me that I’m doing just fine. I also make sure there are a couple of people in there who are also working in the PR world with me so they definitely relate to the mental struggle and can help get me back on track. (Another reason why habit #2 is so important).
#6 They Know Persistence is the Name of the Game
Okay, you’ve made it! You’re at the final, essential habit that is shared by all small business public relations success stories, and it’s a biggie. It’s something you know you need but it’s also something that can be so tempting to let go of because let’s be real: PR is hard! Small business and entrepreneurship are hard! There isn’t always a choir or cheerleaders rooting you on – in fact, most of the time you are your very own cheerleader.
The thing is, PR success stories know that they can’t give up or back down or throw in the towel after their first (or fifth, or tenth) “no” or “pass” or even the dreaded crickets (emails that are met with silence).
They know not to take the passive or proactive rejection personally, it’s just part of the PR journey! Let me promise you there are so many reasons you’re getting a “not right now”, “pass”, or silence – from advertisers taking your place to timing being off to them holding you in a file for another time to breaking news sweeping in and distracting them from your story – the list is endless! Ast the end of the day, your job is to simply commit to sending ongoing pitches of value to the right press and audience, and be persistent – like any PR pro would be!
Let this inspire you: Rejection in one form or another is rarely the end of your PR story. I have a student who has been passed on or met with silence plenty of times on her PR journey who has also landed the O List – more than once. More than once! I myself once pitched the Today Show for nine months before landing a client on an episode, which then led to her becoming a recurring expert on the program. That’s just how it goes! It’s not paid advertising which guarantees you an opportunity it’s earned media, which means we earn it and it’s not always going to go our way!
MAKE THIS HABIT HAPPEN:
So much of PR success can be attributed to perseverance and ongoing, strategic and persistent work. There are no shortcuts, but when you’re doing it right, and you’re in a (digital) community of others doing the same thing, it’s a rewarding – even fun – adventure.
Small ways you can be sure you keep moving forward PR-wise include strategic commitments, like ensuring every media pitch you send is always accompanied by a follow-up, and part of a bigger, ongoing, PR plan. For help understanding that – and more about PR in general, dive into the courses and tools we offer at Press for Success PR Prep School. Our FREE 7 Day PR Shift is a fantastic place to begin!
I also find that I can be confidently persistent when have others working around me who remind me that we’re all in the same boat and I’m on the right track. Two places you can get this reassurance are our Facebook Community and our Press for Success Monthly All Access program!
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN!
What habits do you think YOU possess (or are working towards) that have increased your chances of press success? Do you practice any of those mentioned above?