Set the World on Fire: 7 Secrets of Power PR
I’ve seen some of the most worthwhile companies and projects languish with no media attention while others have exploded with global coverage and buzz. What’s different? Is it luck? An insider conspiracy? Nope. The people I’ve worked with have produced unprecedented results by following a few simple steps to exploit these secrets to power PR. You can do it too, and you won’t need a huge budget or a big PR firm to get major results.
1) No PR experts needed. There’s nothing wrong with a big public relations firm if you have loads of cash to spare. Traditional PR can produce fine results that exceed advertising, but you don’t need it to get breakthrough attention. The approach I coach bootstrapping teams to use is straightforward and authentic: Think about who you want to reach and what media they use, read, watch, or listen to. Then CALL those outlets up and ask for the producer, editor, or writer that covers your subject area.
Here’s your script: “I’m trying to find the right person to talk to about ______. Are you that person, or can you point me in the right direction?” They’ll tell you who to talk to and how to reach that key person. Remember that lots people are trying to connect with these storytellers, but they need to find interesting new stories every single day. We’ll analyze how to stand out with your pitch (using a fill-in-the-blank in the script) in a moment.
2) New trumps newsworthy every time. It’s called “news” for a reason. It’s not called “important, worthwhile things.” It’s great that your business or project is beneficial, good, or out to save the planet, but that isn’t going to get you coverage. What gets coverage is novelty, interesting new stuff. My wife and I own a jewelry brand called Lori Bonn Design. A few years ago we set out to make our jewelry eco friendly and fairly made. Though many other designers were doing similar things, our effort was new in two important ways; we were going to sell it nationally though major retailers, and we were advocating a common standard for this kind of jewelry. These new aspects to our story got us lots of media coverage.
3) Create a zippy name or title. Your name or title should grab attention, provoke, amuse, or create a question in the mind of your audience. It’s best if you can do all three of these things. It could be the name of your company, product, or the name or title of your campaign, but it had better be zippy if you want to get past your opening pitch and get some coverage. I remember a modest vegetarian advocacy campaign went global with the title “Eat Like Einstein.” People were immediately intrigued and curious about whether Einstein was in fact a vegetarian and wondered if that might make them smarter. That title led to instant conversations with radio hosts, editors, and bloggers.
4) Go big or go home. I’ve written about this before in selling, pitching and negotiation, but the power of a big idea is undeniable. Jim Collins calls it a BHAG, or Big Hairy Audacious Goal. And Daniel Burnham, the first urban planner and the man that designed the modern city of Chicago said, “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood…”
Get bold, go big, and be rewarded. One guy I worked with launched Singularity University, a school to inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges. He collaborated with influential and trailblazing people and they set out to change the world. They got HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of media mentions and continue to be well-covered. You don’t have to launch Singularity University to have a PR breakthrough, but you could probably make your vision 10 times bolder than it is today.
5) Tell authentic stories. Authenticity is powerful, grabbing, and a path to natural power. Why? Because too much of our world is all dressed up, packaged, and smoothed over. We’re hungry for the real and raw stuff. Another guy I worked with courageously shared the story of his own homelessness and attracted both media attention and celebrities to his campaign to acknowledge and empower the homeless. His campaign, Harmonic Humanity, was not just authentic, but it led to my next tip. What’s the best way to be authentic? Have the courage to share your struggles, your pain, and your humanity on the way to your breakthrough and powerful new vision.
6) Create killer photo or video opportunities. Pictures and video grab eyeballs and attention. Look around. From “America’s Funniest Home Videos” to our fascination with celebrities and YouTube, we need images and video to sell a story. The people you want to cover you need this kind of material to engage their audience. I once got huge attention for a program to take kids flying by arranging special sessions for TV reporters to get video of kids in small airplanes.
7) Create controversy or leverage a trending topic. Provoke a response, take a contrary point of view, poke fun at common wisdom, or challenge the status quo. I’m not saying that you have to be rude or a troll, I’m just saying a little controversy or conflict is at the heart of many big stories. A woman I worked with satirized a famous song to launch her innovative line of toys for girls called Goldie Blox. The music group whose song they satirized, The Beastie Boys, went ballistic. Then she sued THEM. Massive media coverage ensued. Their product and brand was also novel, audacious, and had a zippy name. Sounds like a PR home run to me.
I’ve got a great worksheet with these PR secrets that you can use to up your game and set the world on fire, and I’ll give you one free coaching session to talk through your project. Click here for the worksheet and free coaching session.