Savvy business owners are quickly realising that in the age of instant communication, viral videos and social media stardom they are best placed to tell their own stories – not an expensive PR firm that is looking to squeeze as many billable hours from you as possible.
The communications and media world has undergone massive change in recent times and small business owners are perfectly positioned to reap the benefits of story-telling, rather than relying on a PR firm to do it for them.
The death of the traditional PR firm has been a long time coming. My years as a journalist taught me that PR firms don’t often get it right. In fact, in most cases press releases sent by PR people are designed to make the client feel good about themselves. They are written in a promotional way, rather than aimed at helping the journalist and their audience.
When I moved to the ‘dark side’ of PR (that’s what journalists call it) I was shocked by their strategies they thought would ‘win over’ a journalist such as sending gifts like concert tickets, or hand delivering donuts. Journalists know they’re being bribed. Sure, they will eat your donuts but does that make them want to do your story? No.
For many years small businesses have been virtually shut out of the exclusive world of PR and media because it felt like it was the domain of bigger business and government – those with deep pockets.
But now, the great equaliser of our time, social media, has turned this equation on its head. Increasingly, the media is responding to short videos on Facebook, blogs, content marketing and visual story telling. This demonstrates a desire for authenticity in the message and an honest connection to an audience.
Small businesses owners are largely driven by passion and purpose. They often embark in business because it means something important to them, and that enthusiasm, connection and ability to speak from the heart is what the media loves.
So, how does a small business owner capitalise on this shift away from PR firms? The key is in how you position your message. Yes, you ought to work your story through social media but don’t be shy of contacting media outlets directly and letting them know directly through a short press release that is aimed at helping the audience in some way.
One of our clients recently scored big using this technique. She invented a device that keeps dogs entertained while their owners are out at work for the day. Stuck to the wall, the device dispenses food and toys at regular intervals during the day and plays recordings of the owner’s voice. She had funds to build a prototype but not go into full production, until she scored some great TV coverage and earned $100,000 in pre orders. A dog owner herself, she created the device out of necessity and love for her dog, which clearly came across on TV.
The media world is now open to everyone and those can present an idea quickly, personally and with passion will win.