Everyone’s a listener, and five other valuable PR lessons for founders

- August 23, 2023 4 MIN READ

Can you think of one valuable lesson you’ve learned from your own experience, or from another entrepreneur or business mentor, that helps you in business today? Someone once said to me ‘Everyone’s a listener’ and it’s always stuck with me. We were talking in the context of media opportunities and which interviews or podcasts or speaking engagements are worthwhile spending your time on versus others, writes Samantha Dybac, CEO and founder The PR Hub, Host Influence Unlocked podcast.

While as business owners, our time is always stretched, and I encourage you to weigh up the merit of each opportunity that comes your way, it really only takes that one person to hear you speak, read or listen to your interview, or visit your LinkedIn profile, to create an amazing outcome or alter the course of your business.

No matter how good they are at prioritising, the conundrum for owners and founders will always be that there are only so many hours each day. So, how do you evaluate whether something is the right opportunity for you or not? Where should you invest your time when it comes to interviews, writing contributor articles, doing podcasts, speaking events, or panels, or even accepting calls or committing to coffee dates?

Here are five worthwhile questions to ask yourself before committing yourself to any of them.

1. Where are you at in your founder journey?

In my business, the most dynamic founders and business leaders to work with tend to be those who are in the early stages of the brand- or profile-building journey. They are moving at speed and excited, rarely saying no to a fresh opportunity to tell their story, showcase their expertise, and perfect their storytelling.

These opportunities may be rarely (if ever) in top tier media, but in the early days of brand-building and clarifying your business’ narrative, Tier 1 is the last place you should want to be. Save the ‘best for last’, or at least for when you’ve had some media experience and have a well-defined founder story to tell.

Be realistic. You might be a fresh startup founder with no media experience or brand recognition. Or a founder further down the path with a successful business, yet you’re still yet to delve into the world of PR profiling and interviews.

2. How much experience do you have?

How refined is your backstory? And whether it’s speaking or in writing, how experienced are you in articulating that story? You may have great brand recognition from your customers, but if the media (event organisers or podcast hosts) don’t share that knowledge, you must be prepared to start from scratch and explain your founder’s origin tale.

Developing your backstory and understanding which bits need highlighting (or not!) is something I’ve touched on previously and takes time. Learning how to best approach or communicate with journalists or interviewers also takes time and effort.

Aiming for top-tier media before you have some experience or have done some training and can really do your business justice could actually backfire. So cut your PR teeth on smaller opportunities to start, and then once you’ve gained some experience and built a profile, you can be a little more selective.

3. How do you feel about doing interviews?

If your answer is ‘a bit icky’ or you lack confidence, then this is the perfect time to start looking for opportunities to finesse your interview skills! By practising, you’re not only promoting your business, you’re also challenging your fears around self-promotion.

I used to wonder myself, ‘What value could I possibly add to an interview?’, ‘Why would people care what I have to say?’ My self doubt / fear of sounding ‘silly’ meant I was saying no to interview requests and podcasts, and speaking opportunities when I was advising clients to do the exact opposite!

Worse, I was holding both myself and my business back; doing a disservice to myself from a personal development perspective, and potentially to others by not sharing any of my valuable experience and industry insights.

4. As a founder what do you want to be known for (and where is this best placed)?

I’m a firm believer that all founders and business owners should think of themselves as thought leaders. Sharing your hard-earned industry and other insights, via a self-published blog, on LinkedIn, or in thought leadership or opinion piece articles is an effective, low-cost way to build a profile for yourself.

Think about who your target audience is and where they are most likely to be looking for or connecting with your content, and let that guide you as to the best channels to be aiming for. And don’t discount the leverage you can create by repurposing content across different channels.

5. Is an exit part of your long-term strategy?

If you are concerned that putting yourself out there for interviews or being profiled as a CEO might result in potential investors getting attached to the idea of you being personally responsible for your business’ success, don’t. Building your own profile serves to strengthen your brand and almost invariably works in your favour when it comes time to exit.

As a PR, brand strategist and as a business founder, I encourage you to lean into your role as a spokesperson for your business. Leverage your personal story, years of experience, and successes and failures to differentiate your business from others in your space and give yourself a competitive edge when connecting with existing and potential customers, stakeholders, and investors.

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