Last year, we enjoyed hosting a live session on our small business support group Eureka, featuring expert journalist and copywriter Claire Winter. The topic? How to nail your own PR. In this blog, we have cherry-picked some of Claire’s top tips from the live session to help you on your PR journey.
Hi Claire, thank you for joining us today. Can you please tell us a bit about what you do?
I predominately work with women. I have worked with some fantastic male business owners and coaches as well. But my mission is to help women ignite their creativity and find their authentic voice on social media through their content and tell their story through outreach like PR.
I’ve done that through my podcast, ‘Cracking Content’. I have a free group with over 2000 members of the same name. I also help small business owners pitch to the press and get in the media so that they can amplify their reach. I’m a trained ICF business coach, which I did during lockdown. I’m also a trend journalist; I started my career at ITN.
I was going to ask you how you came to find this path. You did your training in the first lockdown, was that right? But you were a journalist before that?
Yes, that’s right. And I’ve been coaching and mentoring people for the last four years. I used to be the editor and owner of a magazine called ‘Families’, which anyone who has got kids probably knows. I’m used to helping business owners create content online, in print and on social media, like in the good old days when you could do it all organically.
It has been an incredible journey. It was an easy segue into, rather than being a copywriter, teaching business owners how to do their own copy, I realised this fundamental need for people to get noticed. How do you elevate your expert status? How do you become known for what you do?
What kind of stories is the press interested in?
That’s a great question. New. Exciting and unique angles. So, it could be something that’s trending. Think about your pitch. Have you got something new to add to that story? Have you got a celebrity or someone well-known involved? Have you got someone endorsing it? Often it’s a personal story. There are many different ways of getting yourself noticed. But it is thinking, what’s unique about your business? What do I do differently? What’s your story? How did you get there? That kind of thing.
I was on the press panel with this great producer from Sky News, who worked there many years ago, and he was saying, ‘I’m not interested unless it has got an -st in it.’ I was like, ‘What’s he talking about?’ First, longest, shortest, oldest. That’s quite a good thing to think about, especially if you’re pitching something visual.
You’ve got to be picture-led if you’re pitching to a TV station like ITN or Sky. If you want to be featured in the press, you’ve got to be press-ready. Have you got hi-res pictures? Lifestyle shots, product shots, headshots of yourself together in a folder? Do you have a bio that you’ve written? It would help if you described yourself succinctly. What you do and how best to contact you. All of those things make it possible, so you’re ready to roll when you get an opportunity to respond to a press request.
One of the easiest ways of getting into the press is to go local…
If you think about it, every media outlet is looking for content, and often it’s daily content. Your local paper will have an online news desk as well. You get used to what they ask for, what they need. And it gives you some confidence, and then you can start looking for national or international opportunities. Following something like the hashtag JournoRequest on Twitter is a great place to start. You can get blog opportunities and even podcasting opportunities.
But before that, take a step back and ask: ‘How would I look to a journalist? Is my website up to date? Am I blogging regularly? Am I showing myself as an expert? If I put out a JournoRequest, and someone says, ‘Yes, I’m a child psychologist and an expert in X,’ I’d go and look at their website and go, ‘Okay, yes, they’re walking their talk. They know what they’re talking about.’ That’s why I always say great content goes hand-in-hand with good PR. Then, once you’re a good content creator, it’s easier to get the PR you want for your business.
Can any business do their own PR?
Yes. It has never been easier to contact journalists. They’re all on Twitter. If they’re not on Twitter, they’re on LinkedIn. We’ve certainly seen a difference in trying to get hold of people. You used to be able to ring news desks and contact organisations, and now they’re all working from home, still. Many people are. Many offices are still being disbanded. It’s also gathering a list of journalists, creating an Excel sheet, looking on Twitter, looking at hashtags, and following trending stories. You can start building your list of people that you want to approach.
If you want to be featured by consumer journalists, you see what people are writing about, make a note of them, and follow them on Twitter.
But there are also groups. There’s one called ‘Feature Me’, which is a tabloid. Be careful of those ‘tabloids’; you need to think- is this going to be helpful to push my business forward?
The other thing that people forget about is guest blogging. You can connect with other entrepreneurs and business owners and guest blog for each other. That’s going to help with your SEO. It’s slightly different. But, again, you’re being shared in front of a diverse audience.
You can start by offering to do things like lives in Facebook groups and Instagram lives; there are loads of people doing well with that. Don’t just think it has to be mainstream media; it could be a podcast strategy. Again, it is sometimes taking a step back and going, ‘What are my ideal customers reading, watching, and listening to?’ And you can survey your audience and ask them if you don’t know.
Look at your audience’s needs to make sure you’re on point.
Yes. Because there are two ways of looking at it. I have a podcast because I know that’s what my clients like that I want to work with. I’m also going to be an expert commentator in a Daily Mirror article about obesity. You’ll see entrepreneurs and businesses saying, ‘Featured in-,’ and they’ll have the different logos of the media that they’ve been in. That is also because you can’t share a screenshot of the article. You can do a link, but you’ll get done for copyright if you share screenshots. I’ve seen people do it, and I always think, ‘Please don’t do that.’ So, even though these hard-won media win, you can shout from the rooftops, ‘I’m in the Daily Mail. I’m in the Daily Mail.’ But do not share a screenshot because you are breaching copyright.
Links are okay, but screenshots are a big no-no.
Exactly. But you can use the logos. Then you create this lovely banner, and your product has been in the Mirror; it has been in the Independent. Suddenly, people are like, ‘Check that out.’ It elevates you because another source has written about you, and you didn’t pay for it. That’s the best thing about it. It’s free. If someone asks you to pay for it, that’s called advertising.
Thank you for taking the time to share your wisdom with us. You can find out more about Claire and her Pitch to the Press course she offers here and watch the full live back on How to Nail your own PR here. What was your favourite PR tip? Drop us a comment and let us know.