Mad Men Business Insights: The Power of Public Relations
By: Ryan Burgio
January 30, 2011 | Reading Time: 4 mins
Turning creative success into business IS your work.
– Bertram Cooper
This is our first in a series of blog posts that will delve into Season 4 of Mad Men. If you’re not a fan of Mad Men, don’t worry, the point of these posts is to pull some general business tips from each episode of this fantastic season, as the “scrappy upstart” of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce struggles to survive in the competitive world of advertising.
Now, episode 1 of season 4 is appropriately titled “Public Relations”. But more importantly, it focuses on a major issue amongst many business owners mainly being their inability to turn their success into more business. Specifically, it is their inability to utilize public relations to grow their business. Public relations is a key component of an inbound marketing strategy that helps your company “get found”.
I’ve met countless business owners over the years. I can count on one hand the number of them that proactively seek out public relation opportunities. Many owners respond in the same manner as the uber-talented Donald Draper did in this episode: “Who gives a crap what I say anyway, my work speaks for me.” This is partly true. Within your direct community your work could generate some additional referrals and business, but why not amplify that success across thousands of more individuals? Your job as an owner is more than just “doing your work”. Your job is to grow your business by sharing your success with others. Modesty is important, but publicity can be done effectively without seeming boastful. It will do wonders for your business.
So how do you as a business owner create and implement a publicity plan? It’s a lot simpler than you think. Follow these simple lessons and you’ll see the business benefits.
Lesson #1: It’s all about the story stupid
Think of yourself as a journalist, television producer or studio manager. Your job is to generate listeners, viewers and readers. That’s it. What content should I run today that will get people to listen? Your job as a business owner is to offer up stories and news that’s better than what the media professional already has. Don Draper learned this the hard way when he offered up few and boring details to Ad Age Magazine instead of sharing a story. What could your business pitch as a story that is compelling, new and exciting? Here are some ideas:
Nutritionist/Dietician: Why eating more often could help you lose weight
Auto Mechanic: Five ways you can tell if your mechanic is lying to you
Web Design Company: How to tell if your website is costing you business opportunities
The key element here is that you aren’t necessarily pitching your business, but pitching the value your business can generate. Sometimes you can get lucky and actually talk about your business, but these should be reserved for incredible and unique business accomplishments. For example, if your business has transformed an industry or is launching an unbelievably unique product, there may be opportunities to pitch this story. But those don’t happen often. Try to be resourceful and use other opportunities to generate publicity.
Lesson #2: Find your top 10 outlets
Great I have a story, who do I call? At The Stryve Group, when working on publicity we typically will generate a list of 5-10 media outlets that could be interested in the story. It’s pretty simple. General news stories are great for major and local radio and television shows. Specific stories on specific industries should be targeted to trade or industry outlets such as magazines. In terms of finding specific contact information, you could take the expensive route and purchase a media database that will run you between $500 and $1000. Or if you are resourceful, find the general contact number for the outlet and ask to be patched through to the news director or producer. Don’t be afraid to ask for some direction. Most media professionals are very friendly or accommodating.
Lesson #3: Get to the point
Media professionals live and work in the busy world of the 24-hour news cycle. They have to constantly be drumming up new stories that will satisfy their audience. Furthermore, they don’t have a lot of time to chat. If it’s over telephone or email, get to the point quickly. If you’re pitching a news story, lead with quick hello followed up with the meat of the story. You should have your pitch down to 15 seconds or less. If it is in written form, get to the key benefits of the story at the beginning of the email body. Your email subject should also sum up the story in 10 words or less.
Lesson #4: New media is powerful
There are thousands and thousands of influential bloggers, authors, freelancers and media personalities that exist solely on the internet and many of them are always looking for hot and new stories. Don’t be afraid to email a blogger and suggest a story. They may have a smaller audience, but the story can spread like wildfire. Plus they are easy to contact.
Lesson #5: Don’t let the story die
The biggest mistake in publicity is not amplifying efforts through social media. If you land a media opportunity make sure to tell everyone you know beforehand to tune in or read. Furthermore, all of your online assets should be informing individuals of the story. Post it on your LInkedIN account, twitter, Facebook, website, company blog, industry bulletin boards or anything else that is relevant. This will allow your media appearance to get maximum traction.
Lesson #6: Don’t spam
Don’t create a press release and email spam an entire contact list. Media professionals hate this! Make a personal phone call or personalized email. You don’t want to get blacklisted by the media.
Hopefully by implementing a few of these lessons you too will be sitting across from a journalist at the Wall Street Journal telling your “success story”.