Getting Publicity When You Aren't the Next Billion-Dollar Company
A company that lands itself directly in the media spotlight because of dumb luck or fortuitous timing is certainly something which can elicit jealously and mumblings of “that’s so unfair” from even the most confident of observers.
But unless you are one of the big five -- Google, Twitter, Microsoft, Apple or Facebook -- or one of the sizzling acquisitions of the past several months -- Nest, WhatsApp and Oculus, to name a few -- chances are have your work cut out for you.
That said, getting the world to see you for the brilliant mind that you are and to give “air time” to your innovative ideas may not be as unfathomable as you think.
Here are a few steps to get the publicity you so desire.
1. Check your ego. Ego is a funny thing and can often get in the way of making sound decisions about what is right for your brand. While a quote in The Wall Street Journal may give you the appearance of notoriety, what does it actually do for the future success of your company? Much like fleeting beauty, if there is nothing beneath the surface, this attention will get you about as far as the front door.
Instead, put on your “objective” hat and ask yourself why you think attention -- on a mass scale -- is imperative to your success. Are you trying to attract investors? Are you part of a bigger trend and can lend your expertise to tell a bigger story? Is your product ready for prime time and are you ready to drive sales?
Or do you just feel left out and as though (boo hoo) no one has given you any validation for your work and you will never be able to go on if someone, anyone, says how great you are publicly, preferably on television or on the cover of Time? Make sure you get (and keep) your priorities straight.
2. Create energy around the pain point. One of my favorite PR pros, Deirdre Breakenridge, tells a great story about how her agency took a small startup from “not to hot” by focusing on creating energy around a customer pain point.
“The company was launching its steak and seafood business online. This is basically the opposite of glamorous," says Breakenridge. "We decided to survey customers, and what we found out was they were nervous about purchasing these items online."
To get over this hump, Breakenridge explains that she focused on its safety and quality standards, including a third-party "Certificate of Nutrition." She also chose to launch the program during National Nutrition Month, which allowed to peg it to a news angle, while also promoting good health.
If you’re willing to think outside the box and get creative, you can still create excitement and generate awareness that can lead to sales -- even if your brand isn't high-tech innovative.
3. Consistently tell your story and make it sharable. Beyond finding a hook that is relatable to your public, it’s important to note the power of consistency and shareability. When you effectively build a narrative around your brand and continue to intelligently tell your story, the returns are typically exponential.
Breakenridge’s “steak and seafood” story is a shining example:
“After creating the ‘Certificate of Nutrition’ program, we offered bloggers the ability to order steak and seafood products from the company website and to create their favorite healthy recipes," says Breakenridge. "They in turn actively shared their experience from the ordering process to receiving the package to the actual recipes they created."
Breakenridge explains that by having bloggers create their own recipes, chatter ensued among them and their audience, which led to website traffic and sales.
By enlisting food enthusiast bloggers, the brand built a consistent platform for storytelling and made the concept of “steak and seafood” seem fun and ultimately, shareable.
4. Collaborate with partners and influencers. Today’s socially driven, media rich, do-it-yourself digital publishing world is rife with opportunity to “attention grab” if met with insightful strategy and compelling content.
At my company, which builds PR-analytics software (which couldn’t be unsexier) we have spent ample time collaborating with established brands and well-known PR influencers who can support us in driving our narrative forward. From Dell and Microsoft BizSpark to 500 Startups and Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) we’ve created a network of collaborators who can bolster our brand vis-à-vis their owned media and social channels -- and we do the same for them.
Don’t get caught up in the noise and the hype. A foundation devoid of ego, full of energy and consistency and built with an eye for collaboration will guarantee you a shot at attracting the attention you deserve.