The webinar was hosted by the PRSA and we discussed how to build a strong foundation for your company and how to establish and maintain relationships with journalists, bloggers, and influencers in order to get coverage.
Public relations is a tool that can be used to enhance the reputation of a business. It is also important for small businesses and entrepreneurs to use public relations in order to ensure their success. Read more in detail here: how do businesses use public relations.
Most entrepreneurs are aware that public relations tactics are necessary for company growth. But where do you begin, and what are the finest public relations strategies for a business owner? Jennefer Witter, CEO and creator of the Boreland Group and author of “The Little Book of Big PR: 100+ Quick Tips to Get Your Small Business Noticed,” joined us for this webinar. We just published an extract from her book, which has even more useful networking advice for business owners.
The entire audio is available above, and the text is available below:
Jonathan: I’m thrilled to welcome today’s guest speaker on behalf of Bplans.com. The Boreland Group is a certified, woman-owned public relations firm in New York City, and Jennefer Witter is the CEO and founder. Jennefer is a PR veteran with over 30 years of experience, and she was recognized one of the country’s top 10 CEOs and entrepreneurs by “MadameNoire” magazine in 2013.
Jennefer’s latest book, “The Little Book of Big PR; 100-plus Quick Tips to Get Your Small Business Noticed,” was released in October. The book served as the idea for today’s webinar, and if you like her PR advice for early-stage and established businesses, I highly recommend picking up a copy of her book, which is now available on Amazon.
With that stated, Jennefer, please accept and go.
Jennefer: Thank you very much for that beautiful introduction, Jonathan, and for this chance, which you and Bplans.com have provided. Everyone is welcome to join us. I’d want to express my gratitude to everyone who has registered for this presentation. I understand that we are all time-crunched as small company owners and entrepreneurs. With the amount of time we’ve allotted for our webinar today, we’ll be able to cover a lot of ground. My goal for everyone of you is that as soon as this presentation is over, you will have knowledge that you can use to improve your company model. We may now begin the webinar without further ado.
I’ll start by asking, “What is public relations?” The reason I ask that question is because I often find that when I meet new customers or prospects, their perception of public relations is a little hazy. They mash it up with commercials. In the future, I’d want to make sure we’re all on the same page when it comes to public relations.
PR, in my opinion, is just increasing your visibility to your target market in a distinctive and distinguishing way. We also wanted to provide your business a strong favorable image. It varies from advertising in that most of what you see, whether it’s a commercial on television or an advertisement in a magazine, is paid for, while editorial is not paid for 99.9% of the time. As a consequence, it has a greater level of trust and the ability to influence and attract more consumers.
When I meet with new customers, we go through what PR can do for them again. Essentially, there are three things that public relations may do. The very first is define. That essentially means assisting you in bringing perception and reality together; who you are and what you do, and ensuring that others understand precisely what you do.
It helps to build your reputation, awareness, and visibility so that when you’re out there selling your company, selling your product or service, and your customers are there, if they’re thinking about a need for what they want for their company or for their customers, you’ll be the second or third business they think about if you’re not the first.
What distinguishes that is also crucial. I just read an article in Forbes magazine, and I’m about to tell you something that will most likely knock you off your feet. According to this report, 500,000 new companies are founded each month on average. That is a staggering figure.
Yes, we are already competing against one another as established entrepreneurs. Yes, you’re going out there as an early-stage entrepreneur. Many of these companies are one- or two-person operations, but the reality remains that the competitive environment has always been fierce, and it is becoming increasingly fiercer as time goes on. You really must distinguish yourself, what you do, and how you do it.
Essentially, what you do is receive a disproportionate amount of business-building attention. The reason I say that is because, as I previously said, there is so much going on out there that you need to be able to position your business utilizing public relations as a strategy to obtain you that unfair share of attention that will help you go to the next level and contribute to your income. It’s crucial that you get it properly. You must be constant in your efforts and remain focused as you progress.
What PR can’t accomplish; there are two points I’d want to make here. Public relations isn’t a wonder drug. You won’t see results right away. You won’t see effects in a matter of weeks. It’s possible that you won’t see effects for many months. When you stick with the regimen for a long time, you will see results.
“Jennefer, we want PR to generate revenue,” prospective customers sometimes remark when I meet with them. That will not be the case. Because public relations must be integrated into a larger company strategy, it cannot generate revenue on its own. “Can I see your business plan?” I always ask when I meet with a client. When I develop a public relations campaign for them, I am assisting them in achieving their business goals. That is extremely essential for you to understand since I am assisting you in moving ahead.
When you’re getting ready to put together your public relations strategy, the first thing I want you to do is identify your goal. What exactly do you want to happen? What do you want to achieve with your public relations strategy? I recommend that you avoid doing this in a vacuum. Bring your top management team in. Make a plan for what you want to happen. You can go ahead after you’ve defined your objective.
Moving ahead, this is when you should start thinking about the strategies that will help you achieve your goal. Self-branding, media relations, social media, networking, and speaking engagements are just a few of the topics we’ll cover in this talk. I concentrate on these techniques because they are typically at the heart of any program I create for my customers, who are mostly small companies throughout the nation. They work in various sectors, but similar strategies help them accomplish their objectives.
What exactly is self-branding? Personal branding is another term for self-branding. It’s a powerful instrument for expressing who you are, what you do, and how you differ from others. You develop your personal branding into a positioning statement. An elevator pitch is another name for a positioning statement. Again, in the time it takes to travel in an elevator, say 90 seconds, it helps you identify and distinguish who you are.
Many entrepreneurs have approached me and said, “This is my brand.” They’ll continue to speak and talk and talk. Because I have a limited attention span, I sometimes tune out. These are individuals I’m familiar with. When a new customer or prospect approaches you and asks, “What is your brand?” they must keep your attention. Remember, there are a lot other companies vying for the same customer, so you should be able to describe yourself in three or four words.
The first thing you must do is, once again, establish your goal. What do you want to achieve with your brand? This is something you should consider. You go on to the second stage, which is performing an audit, after you’ve defined what you want your brand to achieve. An audit is just a set of questions about a business that you send out to a pre-determined universe.
Who are you going to send this to? I would recommend sending it to business colleagues, customers, and, yes, your employees. I would recommend sending it to around 20 to 30 individuals since it is really useful in determining the impression vs reality of your company. You should just ask approximately five or six of the questions you should ask. The first question seems to be PR 101, but believe me when I say that the answers will surprise you.
“What does my business do?” is the first question you should ask. Again, it seems so simple, but I’ve conducted audits for myself and for my customers, and the answers to the question “What does my company do?” may be very surprising. You may believe you’re doing A, but your audience thinks you’re doing QRXT or whatever. You must learn what they are thinking.
Another thing I would recommend is hiring someone to do an audit. One of the requirements of the audit is that you get honest, open, and genuine responses. People who are being interviewed may be reluctant to express their real feelings. The most essential aspect of an audit is that the answers you get are accurate.
Hire someone to conduct it, and then give the participants the option of answering anonymously. Again, this will assist you in receiving strong replies. You may do it over the phone or via e-mail. Allow the receiver to do whatever one they want.
“What can I do better?” is another topic you should consider. “What am I doing wrong?” is simply a fancy way of asking “What am I doing wrong?” Nobody wants to know what they’re doing wrong, and it’s frightening to find out. When they ask this question, many of my customers get apprehensive. The problem is, in order to accomplish the goal you’ve set for yourself, you need to ask this question, listen to what others are saying about you, and hear what they’re saying about you.
The next step is for you to do your research. Put your name and the name of your company into Google and see what comes up. Do you receive a lot of media attention? Are you receiving a lot of feedback about your company? Is your competitor there in greater numbers than you? You should take a look at how you seem on the internet.
You should also check out LinkedIn and Facebook. Take a look at your recommendations on LinkedIn—we’ll speak about social media a little bit more later— If you have five essential talents that you believe everyone should know, but only three of them are mentioned in your endorsements section, something is wrong.
Take a peek at your Facebook profile. Look through the individuals who are like and commenting on your postings on your company page. Are these the individuals you’d want to get in touch with? Are they at the A, B, or C level? You should really analyze it because, one again, you need to reach out to the people who will utilize your service. It’s critical to do research in order to figure out how to contact them.
You now have access to all of this information, which will be extensive. Start compiling your data, that’s all I ask of you. It is necessary for you to read it. You should examine it and see if there are any common themes. Are you receiving a lot of good feedback? Are you receiving any constructive feedback from the interviews you’ve had or from what you’ve seen on the internet? You construct that positioning statement after you’ve gathered all of this information; again, who you are and what you do.
Everyone will understand exactly what you’re doing after you’ve written that sentence. Test your statement once you’ve written it. “Hey, here’s the statement I prepared for my business,” say to a few of the individuals you initially went to. This is my logo. What are your thoughts about it?” It might be a few of individuals again. You don’t have to go through the whole list again. “It sounds fine,” they’ll remark, or “Here’s a small tweak,” and so on. You’ll need to make a few changes before you can make that assertion.
You must live that phrase once you have it. You didn’t put all of this effort into it only to have it sit on your desk. It must be included in your message. You should weave it into everything you do, whether it’s marketing material, advertising, or new company presentations at networking events.
It’s also critical that you communicate this knowledge with your employees. Your employees are your ambassadors, and whether you have 500 or three, they will be asked, “What is your company?” every time they are asked. Everyone must answer the same thing when asked, “What is your brand?” I’m not implying that they’ll go about acting like automatons and saying things like, “My business is blah, blah, blah.” No, however they should be aware of the important aspects that need to be emphasized while discussing the business.
Because the following stage is media relations, this is critical. I’ve been in the industry for about 30 years. Every customer or prospect had always stated, “I want media relations,” until approximately two months ago. It was just one customer who responded, “No, I don’t want public relations,” and it occurred only a few months ago. “All I want is social media.” I had hundreds and dozens of clients, but media relations is the paradise of public relations.
It’s critical that you choose the media channels in which you’ll appear, and I stress this—
Jonathan: Jennefer, if you don’t mind pausing for a moment, I had a couple of questions from the group, and they were asking if you could do a review of the six questions to ask during a brand audit, or if you had any other questions to ask during that brand audit. That seemed like an excellent topic for a review.
Jennefer: Sure. You may find the questions in my book. Just going back to the questions that you may ask. The first step is to choose your goal. What do you want to achieve with your brand? The second step is to perform an audit. That way, you may compare impressions to reality. Step three is to do your research. You may accomplish this by Googling your business or yourself, checking your LinkedIn endorsements, and seeing who likes or doesn’t like you on Facebook to determine whether you’re reaching the audience you want.
Step four is to assemble your information. When I say assemble your data, I’m referring to the previous two stages of the audit information, followed by your research, and then going ahead and evaluating it. Step five is to put your self-brand statement to the test. When I say that, go back to some of the individuals you’ve already talked with and say, “Here’s the positioning statement.” What are your thoughts about it?” You may get feedback such as “adjust it here, tweak it there,” or “that sounds great,” and then you may proceed.
The last stage is to put it into practice. That is to say, integrate it into your daily operations. Make sure everyone on your team is aware of what it is. It should be woven throughout all of your communication efforts. You may use this when you’re heading out to introduce yourself to a business or a new customer.
Some of the questions you may wish to ask can be found in “The Little Book of Big PR,” which is a pretty basic book. What does your business do, was the first question I had in there. Then there’s the issue of what value I bring to the table. What can I do differently the next time? Make a list of three adjectives that best define my business. What can I do better, again, is a question that makes most people squirm a little.
I would advise not asking things like, “Am I making mistakes?” or similar questions. It’s all about how you utilize words. When you ask, “What can I do better?” you’re implying that you think there are ways to enhance your service. You can only find out if you get an answer to that inquiry. It demonstrates that you aren’t content to rest on your laurels and are always striving to improve.
What exactly did your firm accomplish this time? What are the benefits you bring to the table? What can I do to make things better? What can I do to make things better? Make a list of three adjectives that best define my business. I’d want to add another question: is there anything else I didn’t ask about that you’d like to remark on now? This may bring up a new set of questions or remarks, but it also offers the person being audited the chance to share something important with you.
I want to emphasize this one more: if you get criticism, it should be constructive. It’s for your benefit. If they didn’t think it was worthwhile to participate in the audit, they wouldn’t take time out of their day to do so. I hope this information is useful. We’ll keep an eye on the questions, and if you have any more, don’t hesitate to ask. We’ll have a Q&A session following, as Jonathan said, but please keep asking questions as we go. I really appreciate it.
Jonathan: Thank you so much, Jennefer. That’s fantastic.
Jennefer: Thank you so much. Returning to media relations, as I previously said, everyone wants publicity, but how you get it is important. It isn’t about getting to where you want to go. It should be the place where your audience reads. Let me give you an example. “Jennefer, I do not want to be in any of the architectural magazines,” one of my clients stated at the outset of our partnership. I am uninterested. This is the direction I want to go. “I’d want to work in the business media.” The reason for this is because his customers are C-level executives, such as CEOs, COOs, and other top-level executives, who read these magazines. He wanted to be in front of their eyes, in the magazines they read and the television shows they watch.
As a consequence, he is not included in any architectural texts. He’s been featured in the “New York Times.” “Investors’ Business Daily,” “The Wall Street Journal,” and “Dow Jones” have all featured him. Yes, it has served him well.
Let’s pretend you’re in Washington, D.C., and you want to be featured in the “Washington Post.” I don’t want to disparage the “Washington Post.” It’s one of my all-time favorite publications. It’s a fantastic, award-winning film. If your target audience reads the “Washington Business Journal” and lives and dies by it, you need to be in it.
How do you get started? This is referred to as the pitch. The pitch is just a brief e-mail to the writer who covers your area of interest at the magazine or media source. It should be no more than two brief paragraphs in length. Reporters get a large amount of e-mail. I’ve talked with journalists, and the average answer I receive is between 300 and 400 e-mails each day. One reporter I just talked with receives 900 e-mails every day. They don’t have the time to read a lengthy pitch. Maintain brevity and succinctness.
You’ll say something like, “Dear reporter,” or something like. Hello, my name is Jennefer Witter, and I’m the CEO of The Boreland Group, a New York-based boutique public relations firm. “I have a tale idea to share with you,” you say, and you dive right in. “I’m the CEO of The Boreland Group, blah, blah, blah,” I began. You establish your credentials right away, and then you go right into the pitch.
What should you be providing as a service? You have to consider—and this is something I’m going to have to tell you—that not everything about your business is worthy of a news article. You must determine whether or not it is noteworthy. If you have something genuinely distinctive in your business, talk about it. However, don’t make a big deal out of it. Stay away from the exaggeration. One of my journalist colleagues told me that she constantly receives a pitch from a lady who claims, “My product is the greatest thing since sliced bread.” It’s not the case. They aren’t paying attention to her pitches, and she is gaining a reputation.
Go in there and explain what your pitch is, and then I’ll tell you a secret that only a handful of us here know about. This is how you finish your pitch. “I’ll get in touch with you soon to see if you’re interested,” said. Thank you very much for taking the time to think about it.”
“I’m going to follow up with you,” says the first statement. You now have the option of following up with the reporter. I recommend calling them and saying, “Hello, this is Jennefer.” I just wrote you an email about blah, blah, blah a couple of days ago.” “I didn’t understand it,” “I’m not interested,” or “Tell me about that pitch again,” they’ll say. It takes the sting out of the cold call since it isn’t a cold call to a reporter. It’s because you’re responding to the e-mail. Thank-yous are important to me. Many reporters do not get thank-you letters. “Thank you for your consideration,” you remark, truly helps you stand out from the other people pitching the reporter.
What I will tell you is that annoyance of a reporter is the last thing you want to do. One of the pet peeves I’ve heard—I’ve been working in public relations since 1982, and it’s now 2014. One common gripe I’ve heard from journalists, writers, and producers is receiving proposals that have nothing to do with their beats or regions of coverage. I’m sad to report that this occurs within my own group of PR professionals, as well as from individuals presenting ideas without the advantage of professional PR help.
A reporter covering the automobile sector will be annoyed if they get an e-mail about office furnishings. Remember what I mentioned before about how they receive hundreds of e-mails every day? They’re receiving—they have to sift through these e-mails—they’re getting a lot of them. I can’t begin to tell you how stressed out today’s reporters are. They used to write an article, file it, and call it a day back in 1982. There’s a lot more now, thanks to social media. It’s a beast that has to be fed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they’re searching for food. They’re writing, blogging, tweeting, reading, and checking their e-mails in the same amount of time as they were 30 years ago.
Send an e-mail, and after you look at it, do you know what you should do if you’re not sure which reporter to contact? Visit LinkedIn. Read over every reporter’s LinkedIn page before going online. Almost any reporter may be found on the internet. Go to the website of the television station, or the website of the newspaper or magazine, and type in their name, and their stories will appear. Go back at least six months and read them. This will allow you to acquire a sense of their personality and interests, so you can deliver a presentation that is pitch perfect.
Relationship building; I just stated how stressed out these reporters are, and they do have a group of individuals they turn to time and time again because they are always there for them when they need them. It’s essential that you become a partner with the reporters with whom you wish to work professionally in order to get access to their media channels.
How do you go about doing this? This is how it’s done. First and foremost, if you see any patterns or stories in your sector, send an e-mail to the writer stating, “I am noticing the following tendencies.” Reporters are constantly looking for patterns. Let that reporter know if you see anything interesting.
Another thing to remember is that even if a reporter is searching for a story source and it’s not in your region or there’s nothing to quote, you should still assist them. That is something that all of my clients do. “If you’re seeking for story sources outside of our region, and we can assist you, we’ll link you with the appropriate person,” we tell reporters when we meet with them. They are enthralled.
When it comes to determining whether or not a story has legs, reporters must ask themselves, “Does this story help?” “We’re not sure whether this tale has any ‘there’ to it,” a prominent New York City radio station recently told me. “Talk to this reporter,” I told them after connecting them with two of my customers. There was no ‘there,’ there, as it turned out. What’s more, guess what? “We’re doing a story on XX, and we want to talk to your clients,” stated the same big radio station, referring to the same clients who took time out of their day to speak with them and assist them.
You may strengthen this bond in a variety of ways. You get a piece in the newspaper, and then you get a story on TV—wonderful. Don’t expect it to be seen by everyone who wants to view it. This is what merchandising is all about. All you have to do now is send it to your relevant network. You’ve got this. My goods were mentioned in the “Chicago Tribune” story on Christmas gift-giving. Include a link to it in your post. Here’s another tip: towards the conclusion of the email, add, “I have a lot more to say about this subject.” If you’re interested, we can set up a time to talk so we can go over everything in more depth.”
You’re presenting yourself as an expert once again, and you’re also opening the door to continue the discussion about your product in an unconventional way. The second issue is that you must ensure that your employees are aware of placements. If you have a sales team, and one of your customers says, “I just saw your product on ‘Good Morning, America,’” you’ve got a problem. If they are unaware of it, it does not reflect well on them, therefore make certain that your employees are aware of it.
Moving on to social media, as an entrepreneur, I am always irritated by how my fellow entrepreneurs fail to use social media. “I’m too busy,” “I’m a private person,” and “Social media is simply social media,” are the three most common excuses I hear. It’s all about the dating scene. That is unimportant to me.” I want you to be concerned about it. LinkedIn and Facebook offer social media sites for major corporations. IBM and Ford aren’t doing it because they have nothing better to do with their time throughout the day. They’re doing it because it helps them achieve their goals, whether it’s increasing their exposure, speaking directly to their target audience, or generating money.
It all comes back to the remark I made before. Because competition is fierce and increasing up there, you need to receive your fair amount of business-building attention. Make use of social media to do this. In terms of income, I can tell you from personal experience that social media has helped me earn tens of thousands of dollars. Through social networking, I’ve been able to get customers. I’ve had a positive impact on my company’s bottom line.
That should be enough to convince you to join social media and take advantage of all it has to offer. Because there are so many social media platforms available, I’m going to concentrate on Facebook and LinkedIn. We could speak about these for the rest of the lecture. I’m going to concentrate on those two since they’re among the oldest social media platforms available, and they’re also the greatest for business, in my view.
Here are three Facebook tips to get you started. I’ll also offer you three LinkedIn recommendations. There’s been a lot of back-and-forth regarding what time to post, and there have been a lot of studies on it. I’ve discovered that the ideal time to post is between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.; again, between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. The reason for this is because studies have shown that people who use Facebook do so after work and after supper. People post late at night, believe it or not. I get up at five a.m. every day; I’m a morning person. When I look at my Facebook feed, I see people posting at 11 p.m., midnight, one, two, which strikes me as incredible. What’s even more incredible is that they’re receiving replies at that hour. Take that into account: you have from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. to post.
What should I write? Many people will argue over this, and here’s what I have to say. You must, by the way, publish at least four times each week. Information about your business should be included; if you have received an award, if your company has reached a milestone, or if you are attending a trade event, please provide that information.
The second thing is that I post material on Facebook, which has worked best for me in terms of generating tens of thousands of dollars in income. I give a lot of talks on public relations, social media, and small company, and I share what I’ve learned with my world. People are eager to learn about the inner workings of the industries in which they are interested. Don’t publish anything confidential, but do offer knowledge that isn’t widely recognized outside the business. This will make your Facebook page sticky, which is a technical word that means you’ve engaged your audience. They’ll return to your page. They’ll go out of their way to learn about what you’re up to, and they’ll reach out to you. That’s about all you have to do for Facebook.
This is extremely essential for LinkedIn right now; the picture. If you don’t have a picture, you will almost certainly receive less engagement than if you have. Please get the picture professionally shot or have a professional quality photo taken. The reason for this is because I’ve seen several photos up there that were not of the highest quality or best represented the person. LinkedIn is really more blue-collar corporate America, while Facebook is a touch more… loosey-goosey. Put your best foot forward with that LinkedIn headshot.
Here’s how you can use LinkedIn as an analytical tool. Go to the right-hand side of the page on LinkedIn and scroll down to check how many people have seen your page, as well as your ranks. The bullet that reads “your ranks” should be pressed. You’ll know where you are in terms of your groups when you hit “audit.” Assume you have 1,000 individuals following you on Twitter; these are your connections. You’ll find out where you stand in those networks.
When you do that, you’ll be able to see how many people are visiting your pages—not how many people, but who is viewing them. This is crucial since it demonstrates that you are providing content that your audience will find useful and interesting. How often should you update your LinkedIn profile? I think a couple of times a week is plenty. Post about your business, but also provide useful information, such as articles.
For example, one of the latest items I posted on my LinkedIn profile was a piece on women entrepreneurs and being heard in meetings, which I think came from the magazine “Forbes.” I also posted it in the groups to which I belong, which is tip number three. One of the organizations with which I’m engaged has generated a lot of interest in me.
This is what you should do with groups. Don’t limit yourself to joining organizations in your field. Go where your customers are, whether it’s a business group, a [inaudible 00:42:24] organization, or a community-based group, as I mentioned before about the architect client who wanted to be in front of the business community because that’s where their clients are. Join such groups and post a couple of times a week in them.
Here’s a heads-up: when you join a group, it has its own set of rules and regulations that you must obey. There’s a possibility you’ll be kicked out of the organization if you don’t follow the rules and regulations. LinkedIn may prevent you from publishing on your page or any group’s page if someone claims that anything you’ve posted is spam, whether it’s true or not. Take extreme caution. Before you join any organization, make sure you understand the rules and regulations.
We’re going to switch gears and talk about networking. That, I believe, is important. There’s a lot of information and tales out there today about the importance of networking. Defining your objectives is one of the things you must do while networking. What I mean by that is, what do you want networking to accomplish for you? Do you wish to increase your group’s visibility? Do you wish to launch a new product in a market that is unfamiliar to you? Is it necessary for you to go into that specific segmentation? Make a decision on what you want to do. What do you want to get out of networking, and then how do you get started?
Going beyond your group is one of the things I recommend. Yes, I’m a member of a few PR groups and other organizations, but I go where I can get customers, which is a wide range of organizations. I am a member of many women’s organizations, and I actively strive to increase my visibility within those organizations. I do speaking engagements. I make friends with other ladies. I am a member of the board of directors. This specific organization is not in my field of expertise, but I have established connections inside it that have enabled me to grow my company.
Follow-up is the last but not least of the musts. This is an area where we all make mistakes, including me. Some people recommend following up within one day. I must admit, I’ve never followed up with someone in a single day. It just does not work. I believe that you should follow up with someone within five business days after meeting them. Last week, I attended an event for a security organization, where I met a few of individuals and swapped business cards. We had a pleasant discussion, and I got the impression that the conversation was enjoyable. “Do you mind if I LinkIn with you?” I said, interpreting the body language. “Sure,” replied the individuals. That’s a fast method to get in touch with someone.
The second issue is that Sallie Krawcheck, the leader of one of the women’s organizations to which I belong, claims to do something kind for someone in her network every week. “Nice” does not imply that you will take them out to lunch or give flowers. “I’ll give them an item that I believe they’ll find interesting,” she adds.
Take a look at how you’re approaching networking. I also emailed it out to many people in my networking circle with this presentation. Consider inviting folks if you’re delivering a presentation. Invite folks to your Christmas party if you’re throwing one. If it’s a holiday, give them information with the season approaching, “wishing you a pleasant Christmas.” There are numerous methods to keep in touch with your network in a gentle manner that will pay off.
Here are a few “must-nots”: Don’t be a jerk. “I don’t go to networking circles and smack people in the face,” you may be thinking. That is not what I am referring about. I’ve gone to a few networking events where I’ll see people chatting and one person looking about, clearly not paying attention, clearly looking around to see who else she can talk to, who can be of more use to her. That is not acceptable. I usually tell people that no matter what, even if you meet someone you know isn’t going to be a good match, bow out gracefully. “How do I bow out?” is one way to accomplish it, and I am asked about it all the time.
“Thank you very much,” say if you’ve had a drink. I had a great time chatting with you. I’m going to get a refill on my drink right now. Enjoy the remainder of the event.” Get a sip, or re-hydrate your drink, whatever you want to do, but go gracefully. That individual may not be valuable to you right now, but they may be in the future. It’s all about me, me, me, me, me. Actually, when it comes to networking, it’s all about me. The problem is, you have to give something up. In order to be effective at networking, you must first give.
If you don’t have a 50/50 connection and the other person thinks all you do is give, give, give, they won’t be able to assist you when you need it. Always keep in mind that you may offer something and not get anything back right away, but you must contribute.
Last but not least, don’t overextend yourself. This may be due to an overabundance of commitment in terms of the number of organizations you want to join or within a single group, and if you’re saying things like, “I can do this, this, and this.” You must choose how much time you can devote to networking. If you only have one hour each week, work inside that hour and make the most of those 60 minutes. One of the worst things you can claim is that “I can do one through ten,” while in reality you can only do one through two. That will not make you seem good, and it may have a bad effect on how you are seen, as well as your company.
Speaking engagements; most small company owners and entrepreneurs I know would sooner have a root canal than do public speaking. Actually, there is a medical name for this: glossophobia. The National Institute of Health created it. To my fellow entrepreneurs, I must advise them to overcome their fears and begin speaking engagements. The reason for this is because speaking engagements help you establish yourself as an authority in your industry. You’re speaking to a group of people who want to learn more about your business and utilize it as a service or resource. Take a step back from yourself and go forward with the speaking engagement.
One of the things I usually recommend to individuals who are apprehensive or new to this is to organize their own lectures. You’ll have the greatest control this way. Here are six steps to examine, the first of which is your budget. I recently returned from a speaking event in Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago. I did a reading and talked about my book, “The Little Book of Big PR.” First and foremost, I determined how much money I wanted to spend on this event. Determine how much you want to spend on the speaking engagement, and the actions that follow will fit inside that budget.
What exactly are you intending to say? You don’t want to select a subject out of thin air just to discover that no one is interested in it. You’ve already decided who you’d want to attract. I’d suggest approaching a few of these individuals with a few subjects in mind and saying, “I’d like to speak about one, two, and three.” “Which one do you want to hear about the most?” When you have this information from the individuals you surveyed, you may construct the most popular subject.
You’ll be speaking to, not at, your audience. Because you’ve already taken the poll, they’re clearly interested in hearing what you have to say. It also aids in increasing the amount of individuals that attend your event.
Where should you have your event? It’s possible to do it almost everywhere. I used to do a lot of lectures at the local library here in New York City when I initially established The Boreland Group 11 years ago. It was the scientific, industry, and business library in Manhattan, and I developed my own seminars, which I was able to deliver there thanks to the library’s assistance. It went off without a hitch.
You shouldn’t simply choose for the sake of picking. I was clearly being extremely strategic with the scientific, industrial, and business libraries since I was starting a company. Individuals in business were the people I wanted to attract. I was able to get in front of my target audience by going to a library that was exclusively focused on business.
Other customers of mine have done engagements at their own workplaces, which may be quite beneficial, particularly if you want to give your clients, prospects, a short tour of your business beforehand. You might be a little more imaginative and have the event at an odd venue, such as a bookstore. I conducted my reading in a penthouse, and it worked out well. You may be creative with your venue location, but as said in step one, it all comes down to money. The library, on the other hand, was completely free. That is something to which everyone can relate.
Another thing you should poll your audience on is the scheduling of your events. On Saturdays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., I’ve given talks. I’ve given talks on Sundays between four and six o’clock. I’ve done it—I’ve gone to engagements that started at 7:00 a.m. and finished at 8:30 p.m. It all depends on who you’re talking to.
When I was doing my reading in Washington, D.C., I canvassed a few individuals who had done D.C. engagements and told them what I wanted to do and where it was going to be held. “It would be ideal if you did it on a weekend, and if you did it on a Saturday, here’s when you should do it, and if you did it on a Sunday, here’s when you should do it,” they added. I took that into account, and it turned out to be a great decision since I had a fantastic reaction for the day and time I did it.
The importance of timing cannot be overstated. If your engagement is targeted at moms, I’ve discovered that you should schedule it in the morning rather than the evening.
Finally, incentives are effective. Clearly, what you have to say is intriguing, productive, and interesting—incentives work. I’d suggest include the fact that there is an incentive in the invites while you’re going out and talking about your speaking engagement to attract a crowd. My incentive was a raffle, as it was at the reading I gave a few weeks earlier. A one-on-one PR counseling session with me was the prize. Here’s a little secret: if you’re going to give away incentives, do it towards the conclusion of the event so that people don’t leave in the midst.
It is not necessary to spend a lot of money. I’ve gone to parties where $25 gift cards were handed out, and everyone seemed to like it. Consider that for a moment. Include a monetary reward. Another thing that isn’t mentioned here is that refreshments will be provided. People are attracted to free food. Once again, it’s all about how you portray yourself. It’s what’s most essential, but small extras like refreshments and incentives may really help draw people in.
Last but not least, you must express your gratitude. I sent a handwritten thank-you letter to each and every one of the individuals who came to my reading. Send them a little bit if you’re bringing someone in to talk with you, a co-speaker, and they’re doing it for free. I used to invite reporters in to speak about dealing with the media during my scientific, industry, and business library lectures. As a thank-you, I gave them gift vouchers. That, I believe, is important. Simply writing a thank-you letter within a few days after the event is effective. It has the ability to carry on the discussion. It enables you to maintain eye contact with them while also demonstrating that you value their presence. Also, thank you to the co-presenter who has taken time out of his or her day to assist you.
We’re going to switch it over to questions and answers right now. Before I go, I’d want to thank everyone for tuning in, and I hope you found this useful. I’ll be here anytime you’re ready to start asking questions, Jonathan.
Jonathan: Jennefer, thank you very much. Yes, we have a lot of questions, and I’m sure we won’t be able to answer them all today with the time we have left, but I just wanted to bring up a few for you to reply to. First and foremost, someone inquired for health-care-specific public relations advice. Do you have any clients in the health-care sector, and what are some of the issues you’ve run across while attempting to obtain press in that field?
Jennefer: I don’t have any customers in the health-care sector right now. I’ve worked with organizations like the Cancer Support Society, which helps cancer patients and their carers. One thing I can tell you about the health-care sector and public relations is that it is carefully regulated, especially when it comes to the approval procedure for professional leasing and other such matters.
Again, I’m not in the health-care business, but if you’re going to conduct any kind of public relations, news releases, announcements, or the like, I’d recommend working with a health-care-focused firm. It is, once again, closely watched.
Jonathan: Thank you for your response. Another question we had was when you were discussing about the social media side of PR, and then another person had a similar question when it came to speaking engagements; what do you do if you aren’t interested? How can you preserve a degree of privacy on social media if you are a private person? Conduct you have to do speaking engagements for the speaking engagements? What if you’re not interested in that element at all?
Jennefer: What I’ve stated with “I’m a private person” on social media is that you’re not talking about yourself. You’re referring to your business and its services. The second issue is that you have a lot of control over who you connect with on Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as who you allow to like your page. What you publish is also within your control.
Yes, you are a private person, in my opinion. I’m a private person who keeps a close eye on what I post. The problem is, if you’re not on social media, you can guarantee your competitors are, and they’re receiving what you could be getting because you’re not out there grabbing a piece of the virtual income pie.
It’s OK if you don’t want to conduct speaking engagements when it comes to speaking engagements. I offered a variety of advice, ranging from self-branding to networking to media relations. Figure out what your goal is, and then choose the methods that will help you achieve it, like I said at the start of the presentation.
If you discover that speaking engagements aren’t your cup of tea and that they won’t help you accomplish your goals, consider the other strategies I’ve listed. You are not required to complete all of them. Take a few of them and find out how to use them to your advantage in order to help you advance your company.
Jonathan: Thank you very much. I believe I have time for just one more set of LinkedIn-related questions. There were a few inquiries regarding it. First and foremost, if someone isn’t on LinkedIn yet, should they create a page for their business or should they create a personal profile and utilize it for their PR strategy? How can you figure out which groups your clients are likely to join?
Jennefer: The Boreland Group does not have a page on my website. Jennefer Witter has a page on my website. I am the face of my firm, and I use that to promote it. You can establish a LinkedIn page under yourself if you don’t already have one. Again, I can understand if you’re a private individual, but you’re not; you’re using your LinkedIn profile as the head of your business or whatever position you have.
Putting together your summary, as well as the picture, is one of the most important aspects. It should be a couple of paragraphs lengthy while composing the summary. Begin with the job you’re currently doing. Put anything up there that can quantify what you’re doing, such as your business having produced 30% of the greatest blah, blah, blah, or if you’ve contributed to a particular percentage growth in your company.
When it comes to joining groups, a page will appear when you connect with someone and state, “Your connection, Jennefer Witter, is in these groups.” A-ha, you’ve made contact with this individual. You now know what other organizations have an impact on him or her. Take a look at these organizations to determine which ones would be most beneficial to you. You may only join a limited amount of groups on LinkedIn. I’m not sure how many groups you can join off the top of my head, but I believe there is one.
If you have ten individuals on your target list that you want to connect with and they accept your invitation, look at the groups they belong to and join some of them. In addition to being linked with you on your main page, this will put you in front of them.
Jonathan: Fantastic. Jennefer, thank you very much. I believe we’ve exhausted our time for questions, but I’d want to repeat a couple of points for all of our webinar participants. This recorded Webinar, along with the transcript, will be sent to you. In approximately seven to ten days, you’ll get a follow-up e-mail. In the interim, we’re going to forward some of the questions you’ve submitted to Jennefer. If she can answer a couple of them, we’ll include them in the follow-up e-mail.
You may also go to Bplans.com for more information. Jennefer contributed a guest article for us, based on an extract from her book “The Little Book of Big PR,” which includes 20 networking ideas from a public relations specialist. That essay on Bplans.com is a must-read.
If you want to learn more about each of these ideas, Jennefer has a book called “The Little Book of Big PR: 100-plus Quick Tips to Get Your Small Business Noticed,” which you should definitely check out. You may reach out to us on Twitter @Bplans for further information. You may find us on Facebook under the name Bplans. Jennefer is on LinkedIn and Twitter, as she stated; her Twitter name is JenneferTBG. Please keep in touch with us. We’ll send you the recorded webinar along with the transcript, and we’ll attempt to include some of the questions that we weren’t able to include today.
Thank you for coming, everyone. Is there anything more you’d want to say, Jennefer?
Jennefer: Yes. I misplaced you when you were giving out my handle, so I just wanted to double-check that everyone received it, which is @JenneferTBG, and it’s J-E-N-N-E-F-E-R, as it’s written on the site. I guarantee that I will answer any question that is posed to me. Please send in your inquiries. I’ll be addressing them, and I want to interact with you on Twitter and via the questions. I hope you found this lecture useful.
Jonathan: Thank you once again, Jennefer. We have a lot of excellent advise here; great stuff. We appreciate you taking the time to visit with us. Thank you everyone for coming, and I believe that’s about all for now.
Jennefer: Thank you so much, Jonathan.
Jonathan: Thank you very much, everyone.
In this webinar recap, we covered some of the most important public relations tips for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Reference: example of media relations.
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