The £1,500 offer (of a lifetime)

So this is my offer – for £1,500 I’ll get you one decent (and positive) piece of national press coverage (something like thisthis or this) – whether that’s a news item in the Telegraph, TechCrunch, a feature in Time Magazine or a spread in GQ. Whatever works for you (and I’ll agree to, of course). And if I don’t get it for you, I’ll give you your money back .

One piece in the national media can have a huge impact on your business. People tend to believe what they read in the papers (even about themselves), and you can show it to all your pals, your (current and potential) clients, investors, even your in-laws – it can also generate a substantial amount of new business (one of my clients had 30+ sales leads from one article in the Telegraph).

There are a few rules, though:

  1. I need to be pretty sure I can get national coverage. So no press releases announcing “V3.1.1 of Widget 3.0.” I’ll probably have a good idea of the right angle, during our first “no obligation to buy” chat.
  2. In the eons I’ve been doing PR I’ve never failed to get national coverage for a client (apart from one I only worked with for a few weeks). We both need to be aware that we’re taking something of a risk, and go into it on that basis.
  3. You need to be committed (giving me cash will help), and come back in a timely fashion with press release edits, times for interviews etc. Otherwise we’re both wasting our time.
  4. You need to be a little patient. It can take a few months to get the first bit of coverage. The media probably don’t know you (Mark Zuckerberg, if you’re reading this, I’d offer you the same deal). I need to be a little creative (and persistent). All good things come to those who wait.
  5. You might be thinking one decent bit of coverage isn’t enough for £1,500. I understand that (although I don’t agree). At first I was thinking of offering two, but then I realised I’d be over-promising. Getting the first one is hard work, and although the second often follows, I think it’s a fair deal. If you don’t, of course, that’s fine. (I won’t down tools after the first bit of coverage of course – if journalists request interviews I’ll sort them all out, naturally).
  6. We may well only issue one press release. Or there might be more than one (all for your £1,500), it depends how we get on.
  7. You may well not care but the economics work for me too. I’ll charge myself out at £300 a day (it’s a discounted rate). So that’s five days work for me (1 day getting to know your business, another writing and editing the press release, and then three days contacting journalists and endlessly chasing them up).
  8. If all goes well, and you’re happy with the results, then we can talk about doing more PR. Clearly, though, there’s no obligation on your part to ever speak to me again.

What Now?

If you super excited by all this, please contact me, and we can set up a call. We’ll then chat for an hour or so, and if we want to go ahead, we get can get cracking.

The problem with PR (FYI it’s you)

The problem many people have with PR – which I understand completely – is that you shell out a truck load of money, with no guarantee of anything in return. PR companies often ask for a monthly retainer, over-promise you the earth, and then all too frequently fail to deliver (often because senior people will pitch you, then an inexperienced person will actually work on the account). That’s not always the case, of course, some agencies really do the business, but all too often they don’t.

PR isn’t rocket science, but unless you get the fundamentals right you haven’t a hope in hell of getting coverage. And a big part of the problem is often you (the client), but I’ll go back to this in a bit.

So back to you. You love your business, you live and breathe it. It’s a huge part of who you are. That’s great, of course, but the problem is you probably haven’t got the foggiest idea of what makes a good press story. Why would you? Yet time and time again you think you do, and many PR people (at times me – in the past) haven’t the balls to tell you otherwise.

A press release announcing “the launch of the groundbreaking V3.1.1 of Widget 3.0” just isn’t news (and will be deleted before the journalist has even finished reading the headline), however important it might be to you.

But pretty much every business has a good story to tell. Whether that’s your personal story, the growth of the business, the bit about your widget business that really is interesting, and so on.

Take a look at The Secret They’re Keeping From You if you fancy going it alone or contact me if you fancy having a chat. Either way, good luck.

The secret they’re keeping from you

There is no secret PR people are keeping from you (unlike the lunar landings, which really were faked). Getting coverage is a combination of understanding what journalists (really, really) want, giving it to them in an acceptable form, and then hammering away to get them to write about you.

There’s a lot you can do to dramatically improve your chances of getting coverage, though, and hopefully these pointers will help:

  1. Don’t assume because you find it fascinating, other people will. Read the sections of the newspapers you’re thinking of contacting, and ask yourself: “Is what I’m saying really going to be of interest to them?”
  2. Now be honest.
  3. Contrary to popular belief journalists aren’t out to get you (unlike the Reptilian Elite who really are). They can be rude and somewhat difficult at times, but then can’t we all.
  4. Remember news is news. It happens, and it’s generally pretty exciting. My eldest son is now on 150 House Points, which is big news in my house, but largely irrelevant to the rest of the world.
  5. Features are interesting because they tell you something about the world / an industry / business / the people involved. To be in a feature what you are / have to say, has to be interesting. We’re all interesting (up to a point), it’s just a matter of finding the right subject to talk about.
  6. A press release is not an essay or a sales pitch. It’s written in a particular format and everything you need to know should be in the first paragraph (like in those newspapers you’re reading all the time now). You can expand the story as the press release progresses, but unless the headline and first paragraph grab the journalist’s attention you haven’t a hope in hell of getting coverage.
  7. Keep reading newspapers (there’ll be a test before half-term), and find journalists that might be interested in your press release. Email them (praising them for past articles is often effective, who doesn’t like to be sucked up to a little). Your email should also contain your headline (in the subject line) an elevator pitch of your story, and a cut and pasted version of your press release.
  8. Then patiently wait for them NOT to reply.
  9. Give it a few days (unless of course your story is particularly time sensitive), and then phone them up. Journalists almost never answer their phones, so you’ll probably get their voicemail. Don’t bother leaving a message, they almost never listen to them.
  10. Keep calling them – at some point they’ll forget they almost never answer their phone, and will pick it up instinctively. You then have a few seconds to give them your elevator pitch. If they don’t like it, they’ll let you know in no uncertain (and often belligerent) terms. As a journalist, that was one of the highlights of my day.
  11. If they offer feedback (“you are the weakest link, goodbye”), gush effusively and hang up. Only then should you abuse them under your breath.
  12. If the feedback is actually constructive learn from it.
  13. Take a deep breath, then try some of the other journalists you’ve contacted.
  14. Remember, it can take a while to get coverage – for the first six months of my year without lying, every journalist on the planet thought I was a complete nutter (they’re a cynical bunch on the whole). Then I found someone at a national newspaper who really liked it, he covered it and suddenly I was a nutter no more. For fifteen glorious minutes I was featured in newspapers around the world.

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