Guest Post: How to Use PR to Boost Your Expert Creds

This week, we have another guest post.  This time by a lovely woman, named Jennifer Friedlin, of Iris 7 Marketing, who I will be collaborating with on workshops in the future.  We think so similarly it was a no brainer to ask her to contribute to the blog.  This week, a post about boosting your PR, which helps you get presentation gigs!

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Dream of having your own TED Talk? Aspire to being invited to participate on panels? Want to reach more people with your blog? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you may want to consider pitching yourself to the media.

Getting featured in the media is a surefire way to build your reputation as an expert in a particular field. And while The New York Times, NPR, and CNN may be among the news outlets that carry the most cache, even small local papers can offer effective platforms for building your personal brand credibility.

But before you pick up the phone to call the local news desk, you need to do a couple of things. First, craft a smart story pitch. You need to be able to quickly and succinctly tell reporters why they should cover your story. Basically, what makes you special? Do you have a novel product or service? Do you offer a solution to a particular problem? Do you have a fresh perspective on topics of interest?

Once you have defined the story you want to pitch to reporters, think about the best news outlets for your message. Let’s say you are in the start-up phase of a business in the mommy/baby sphere. You would likely want to stay focused on local parenting guides rather than national parenting magazines. For one, unless you are doing something completely off-the-charts edgy, national outlets are unlikely to be interested in your untested product. Also, you need to be mindful that media attention is likely to create a bump in your business. If you don’t have the infrastructure to meet a surge in demand, the media attention could actually be your undoing.

If you want media attention, but you don’t necessarily have a product or service to pitch, you can still get coverage. Reporters are always looking for new sources to comment on current events. One simple thing to do is to let reporters who cover the field you are in know you exist. If, for example, you are a child psychologist interested in speaking on issues that affect kids, you would want to let journalists know you are available to comment on stories from education and entertainment to school shootings.

When you contact reporters, initially by e-mail and then by phone, you will want to have a press kit with information on your background, experience, and areas of expertise. Send this information off with a business card (and news clips, as you get them) and then stay in touch. Contact reporters with story ideas and let them know about trends in your space. View yourself as a reporter’s eyes and ears and soon they will too.

Take this example: After years of paying thousands of dollars a month to a PR company, an Iris7 client in the financial investment space asked if there was a cheaper way of getting coverage. I advised them to send a weekly e-mail to their media contacts detailing the trends they were watching. Within a couple of weeks, the firm was quoted in Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. Bam!

Once you start getting some press clippings, you can begin to build your effort to become a featured speaker and presenter. First, make sure that you are posting all of your clips to your website and social media pages. Ask friends and colleagues to disseminate the articles to their circles as well. At this point, you should start getting new fans and followers. As you gain critical mass, start publicizing the fact that you are available to speak. Before long, you should be on the circuit.

Jennifer Friedlin is founder of Iris7 Marketing, LLC, a Brooklyn-based marketing and communications company that develops marketing and communications strategies for small- to medium-sized businesses and non-profits. 

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