PR for small business

The Brave Business of Feedback (Because We Aren’t Robots)

blog 9.4A few weeks back, I wrote a post called Don’t Flush Your Brand’s Reputation Down the Toilet, and to be honest, at the time, I wrote it because I needed to say it. The response to that post has been a bit overwhelming…and in many unexpected ways.

Let me explain. While much of the reaction to the post was “hell yes, thank you” there were also questions as to my motives or what I was trying to do. Character assassination was never my goal. Which is why while I was asked repeatedly for a rundown of who’s who, I chose not to go there. Not my style.


Which brings me to talking about mistakes. Every one of the examples in that post was true, and I was asked if those were mistakes, that maybe I should be willing to let go. Yes, no…maybe?

Personally, I’ve made mistakes and lots of them. But how we recover from them and deal with the feedback is what we should truly be judged on. How we apologize and make it right is what matters in the long run.

How do we do that? We need to own our mistakes. We need to face those buggers straight in the eye and take the feedback. As much as it hurts. Because you know what? When something stings, it is usually because there’s an ounce of truth.

[Tweet “How we own up is the true test. New blog post from @magspatterson”]

Is There Room for Feedback in Your Business?

There’s a lesson for ALL of us in that. Do we give our clients a space to provide feedback? To be honest with us?

As a result of that blog post, one of the people in the post recognized herself in it and stepped up to the plate. Props to her as that is not easy to do, especially months after the fact. Does it change the situation? No, but it changes my view of her and her level of investment in the situation which goes a long way.

On the flip side, I had a client reach out to me about a project and let me know some issues she had with it. I appreciated her feedback and we were able to get it all sorted out so everyone was happy in the end.

In both cases, we both had a different perspective on the same issue. Our worldview is not the only one. But personal ownership and responsibility is the key here. Only when we are willing to own it, do things get addressed.

My take away from this is that it’s up to each one of us to provide constructive feedback where and when it is required.  Enter the brave business of feedback.

We need to be thoughtful and careful – feelings are involved here and we are not robots. (As much as I have mixed feelings on the role of all the feelings in business – but that’s another post.) Feedback should be fair and balanced but it needs to happen. The more creepy crawly it makes you feel, the more reasons you need to put it out there.

And for us as business owners we need to provide a place where our clients feel like they will be heard. Providing opportunities to communicate with them, listening to what they are saying and soliciting feedback throughout the process.

That’s what we need more of – not gossiping in groups or quietly letting our annoyance fester into something more insidious.

Feedback is all part of the game and we need to be willing to give and receive. If you are willing to give, open yourself up to receiving. The art of feedback is not easy, but it is brave. So when people speak, we need to listen and not dismiss them as out of line or straight up nuts before considering the facts.

[Tweet “Are you willing to give (and receive). The brave biz of feedback with @magspatterson”]

How can you improve how you give and receive feedback within your business relationships? Comment below.

PR for small business The Marketing Moxie Show

Episode #32 – Fired Up About Challenges with Racheal Cook

thumbnailChallenges are being run all the time, but do they work? Do they actually engage your audience? Drive business results? Today guest expert Racheal Cook, The Yogipreneur shares her lessons learned from her super popular Fired Up & Focused Challenge.

Items Discussed in this Episode:

  • How Racheal’s client feedback drove her to create her Fired Up and Focused Challenge
  • What Racheal learned from running the last round of her challenge
  • How to use your communication style to drive how you create offerings
  • Racheal’s style of doing it her own way
  • The power of using micro-results to keep your clients feeling like they’re ‘winning’ and drive them to continue
  • What to consider before jumping into creating a challenge
  • How to use your community to respond to their needs in a challenge
  • What Racheal wish she knew about running a challenge
  • Racheal’s steps for promoting and running your challenge in the most successful way

Top 3 Takeaways for this Episode:

  1. Find a way to connect with your community and get their feedback before you get too far into creating something.
  2. Feel free to change direction and change the rules if it doesn’t feel right to you. Your marketing can be done your way – and in alignment with your style.
  3. Borrow from other industries, don’t confine yourself to online marketing and online businesses.


The Fired Up & Focused Challenge

The Yogipreneur

Join the Free Marketing Moxie Group on Facebook

PR for small business

Skip the Cookie Cutter Pitch Template

blog 8.21It’s dirty business today. Talking templates.

I love systems. Processes, anything that makes things flow beautifully. But when someone asks me for a template for pitching media I get my back up.

No fewer than 3 online courses I’ve taken have thrown guest posting and pitching media out there as a way to build your list and your credibility.

Fist pump. I love it. Yes, totally let’s do it!

Then, it’s followed by a pitch template. A cookie cutter template for you to “swipe”….usually along with words like “just fill this in and you’ll be all set”.

If only it were that easy. If it were that easy wouldn’t we all be media superstars? #prfail

No template is going to help you get where you want to go. There’s so much more work that needs to go into your pitch beyond “insert your name here” and send.  A template misses the point entirely.

[Tweet “PR pitch templates aren’t doing you any favors. @magspatterson explains”]

How to Actually Use a Template

Relying too heavily on someone else’s template is not doing you any favors. It may have only been used by that person in their own pitching efforts, and one person’s success does not make for a winning process.

It’s their story that makes the true difference, or their specific stage of business or experience, not their template.

On the other hand, if the course is very popular….do you want to be the SAME as the 10,000 other people using that template and very likely pitching the same places as you.

A template is a starting point. Where the magic of pitching really happens is at the intersection of your story and your awesome research. The pitch needs to sell your idea, not merely your pitch jammed into expert X’s master template.

I can just picture the editor sifting through the 47 pitches that are all the same talking about during your passions into profits or being authentic….and wait, here’s magical #48 with a different idea, telling a well though out story and not in the cookie cutter template. That’s the one that gets the yes.

Don’t you want to be the one that gets the yes? Not the one that gets the big sigh, eye roll and promptly deleted?

Instead of worrying about what to put in your email to the big name blog, figure out what you can bring to the table. What’s your story – your unique perspective, experience or truth? And why would that publication actually want this content? How are you qualified to talk about this?

Answering those questions is more important than any template will ever be. A template will never be the key to success.

How can you prepare and set yourself apart instead of playing fill-in-the-blanks? Comment below. 

[Tweet “Stop filling in the blanks. Perfect your PR pitch with @magspatterson”]

PR for small business

Practical PR: Why PR Won’t Fix Your Business

You’re ready for the BIG time. You’ve got the website. The packages. The dream. The guts. The glory.

You are out there rock n’ rolling. Blogging. Tweeting. Hell, you’ve even thrown some PR into the mix.

But your growth isn’t happening as fast as you’d like. So you are anxious, edgy and maybe even feeling borderline desperate.

There’s a million reasons WHY things are they way they are in your business, but a big one likely is the fact that somewhere along the way your expectations went seriously off track.

I could throw around some blame here that would land firmly on the shoulders of the live your dream, make millions BS crowd. Or make your first $100k in five easy steps. You know the drill.

Do I believe this is possible? Yes. Do I believe this is possible for most of us and in the way that we’re sold? No. Make that a hell no. It’s utterly ridiculous. But it puts butts in online seats and leaves the rest of us going after the dream.

Call me the dream killer. Call me harsh reality. But no PR or marketing can fix your broken ass expectations, market research or subpar product. No program has the magical solution to get you to a cool 1 million.

That’s why when someone shows up on my door with the expectation that I can fix this, I run. I’m damn good at what I do, but I’m not the Olivia Pope of online business.

[Tweet “Don’t chase a fix with PR. Focus on your body of work says @magspatterson”]

How This PR Thing Really Works

Every so often, I regret my career choice. As much as going into communications was a total no-brainer for me, I sometimes wish I’d gone into a field where I could give my clients more definitive answers.

PR, publicity, marketing is an art. It’s not science where I can say with 100% certainty that if we do X, Y will happen. The best we can do is take the information we have, apply knowledge and experience and go from there. Results may vary.

That’s why, as much as I know that if you guest post or do interviews, the results will come. They just don’t come in the same way every single time. Or in the same form. One person may get 100 email sign ups and 3 sales from a guest post, while one may get 20 sign signups and that’s it. Sometimes you get lucky because you are in the right place at the right time. Other times you will need infinite patience and a whole lot of faith.

The act of promoting your business, consistently month over month  is where the real magic happens. Little things add up to big things and you start to build momentum. Smaller opportunities turn into bigger ones. That’s a practical PR approach to getting things done.

That’s my friend is how it’s done.

[Tweet “The real PR magic happens when you focus on turning the little things into big ones”]

If you are going to play the PR and publicity game, you need to stop seeking a quick fix and focus on how this contributes as part of a bigger push to meet your business goals and your body of work.

All of your efforts from interviews to speaking engagements to guest posts come together to build into a body of work that establishes you a thought leader. That’s what helps you sell out programs, book your calendar for months to come and helps get you to the BIG time, or at least on the road to where you want to go.


PR for small business

Practical PR: Mainstream Media Lessons

blog 7.24It’s one thing to be quoted or have a guest post in your industry’s top publication, but it is entirely another to appear in a glossy magazine or top newspaper. There’s something beyond exciting about mainstream media cover that you can brag to your grandma about and post a picture of on your personal Facebook feed.

Is this about vanity? Possibly.

As long as you are crystal clear on what your goal is with mainstream media, I’m all for it. Too many times people have this notion that they will magically get an influx of interest because they were on the Today show for 4 minutes.

[Tweet “Avoid getting sucked into the vanity PR trap with this post from @magspatterson.”]

For your average service-based business, mainstream media is not all it is cracked up to be. Sure, if you are selling a retail product like a piece of clothing or organic body lotion, the rules change dramatically. But let’s face it, 95% of my readers are service providers like consultants, coaches, speakers and authors so that’s what I’m going to talk about.

Have Your Eyes Wide Open with Mainstream Media

If you want to go mainstream and focus on glossy magazines and national TV appearance, you need to be wise to how it really works, so here’s a few things for you to consider.

1. It Takes Time

The bigger the name, the more hustle and patience required. Back in the “day” when I was heavily focused on pitching mainstream media, it took a lot of creativity. And patience. Occasionally it would happen with a bit of luck and we’d have an interview with no lag, but usually it took the producer or the reporter getting to know the company and come to trust us as a source of information.

2. Authority is Required

You know the saying there’s no such thing as an overnight success story? While it may appear that someone was freshly discovered with that big story in the Wall Street Journal, there’s likely years of sweat equity behind the scenes.

To be a credible source, you need authority. If you are a new business, you need a backstory. Expecting them to trust you as an expert is a long-shot if you’ve never even guest posted before. Start where you are to build your authority over time and don’t waste time chasing something that won’t likely yield results.

3. Results May Vary

While visions of fame and fortune dance in your head, you need to clearly understand that mainstream media may not deliver the results you expect. That big moment commenting on a breaking news story on CNN as exposure very likely will not make the phone ring or the orders flow in. What it will do is give you more credibility which can help with more media or speaking gigs.

The real magic is in the boost of confidence that it gives people when they come to your website and want to work with you. Never underestimate the power of social proof via media appearances. Think of it as your body of work vs. the one hit wonder.

Ready for Some Mainstream Media Love?

There’s lots of places you can start, so figure out your goal before you do anything else. Get clear on how this is going to help you in your business and what you want out of it.

From there, work out what targets to focus on to help you meet that goal. Is it a BIG website? A quote in your fave glossy women’s monthly magazine? National TV? Local lunch time show?

Be intentional and get focused on the target so you can tailor your story and not waste your time going in circles after all of it. You know, that whole failure to plan is a plan to fail thing. No plan = #hotmess.

With the plan, you can develop your strategy and tactics so you can actually get results. You may choose to learn the ropes yourself or hire a pro, but no matter what you do, be smart about mainstream media and don’t get seduced by your ego’s drive to have something to tell your grandma about.

[Tweet “Don’t let your ego run the show. Get wise about mainstream media with @magspatterson”]

PR for small business

Practical PR: Everything You Need to Know About HARO

HARO .jpgLet’s face it. When you are on the case looking for PR opportunities it’s like drinking from a fire hose. There’s a gajillion targets and it’s hard to know who is actually looking for stories or sources.

That’s why I’m such a fan of the Help a Reporter Out (HARO) service. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a free service that connects sources (that’s you!) with reporters that are working on stories. It lands in your inbox three times per day, Monday to Friday with a list of opportunities that need sources.

Here’s the cool thing about HARO, when done right, it can land you in publications that you may not otherwise be pitching. Take for instance, my buddy Rebecca Tracey. A HARO pitch landed her in this piece on

Many of my clients have secured mainstream coverage to being included in books to being quoted in their ideal niche publication. HARO includes publications and websites from business to lifestyle to travel. There are endless possibilities if you are willing to work HARO.

[Tweet “Work @helpareporter to boost your PR with these tips”]

Making HARO Work – The Golden Window

Are you thinking, but Maggie, I’ve never had HARO work for me? It’s generally held that one of the keys to success on HARO is responding as soon as humanly possible. I’ve heard more than once from reporters that within 20-30 minutes of opportunities going out by email that they are flooded with sources.

You are busy. I get it. But if you can, read the emails when they arrive in your inbox and see if there’s anything that’s a fit. Give it a quick scan and then respond if there’s anything that works for you. Do not overthink it. Opportunities that are a fit will jump out at you and make you think “yes, please” I want to be quoted there.

If you have a VA, assign this task to them to help you ensure that nothing gets missed. (Or if you are my client, you have my eyeballs on the case picking them out for you!)

Creating the Best HARO Response Ever

If you are a reporter who is literally drowning in responses, you are going to look for people who take the time to craft a smart and insightful response. And you my friend, if you are taking the time to respond want to make the cut.

Here’s some tips on how to create the best HARO responses EVER:

  • Follow exactly what they are asking for in their request. If they want two sentences provide only two sentences. If they say no agencies and you are an agency, don’t respond.
  • Provide your contact information including your phone number so they can follow-up if need be.
  • Sell yourself. Why are you uniquely qualified to act as a source on this topic? Two sentences should be enough.
  • Include a link to your website and another other relevant background.
  • Use a catchy headline in your response’s subject line to get noticed.

As you get started with HARO, keep in mind that not every response will not yield a reply, but stay on the case. Pitching opportunities that are already in play definitely beats trying to to convince a reporter at a big website that they must write a story on X and include you.

Next week  – more on practical PR coming up!

[Tweet “Meet the media where they are. Score coverage. Win-Win with @helpareporter. New blog post.”]

Has HARO worked for you? Are you going to get started? Share your HARO stories and thoughts below.


PR for small business

Practical PR: Why Press Releases Suck

blog 7.10I’m starting a new series today on the blog called Practical PR with a goal of giving you some actionable ideas for promoting you and your business.

I thought I’d start off with talking about one of my least favorite PR tools, the press release and why press releases suck. (At least in my not so humble opinion.)

My relationship with the press release started in 1996 when I was in college taking PR. I learned all the ins and outs of everything press release related. Since then I’ve probably written and sent out thousands of them, if not tens of thousands.

Now, think back to 1996. Email was barely a thing and blogging was just a glimmer amongst a small community on the Internet. Social networking wasn’t even born yet and Mark Zuckerberg was only 12 years old.

Back then, press releases made sense as a structured way to package and share news about your company. Fast forward 18 years later and press releases quite frankly are pretty retro. Sort of like the Macarena, the #1 song of 1996.

[Tweet “What press releases and the Macarena have in common. So retro.”]

The Time and Place for Press Releases

Working with corporate clients, press releases are a standard tactic, and in many cases are required for stock market disclosure or things that have zilch to do with PR.

Many times, when people think about PR, a press release is one thing they are familiar with, so they jump to that as the way to “get their news” out there. But as a coach, consultant, or author, you aren’t bound by the rules of the SEC and you can tell your story using a much more social approach and skipping the press release.

Not convinced? Think you can just write your press release, pay a service to distribute and you’ll be golden?

Not so fast.

Press releases do not make the media magically call you. Spending $700 to have your story distributed by a big name service does not automatically beget coverage. And real bonafide coverage is not having the press release reposted to the Wall Street Journal. Oh look you, talking about you. Not so credible is it?

The idea of publicity in the first place is to get other people to share your story and thereby boost your cred in the process. It’s called third party credibility, which you don’t simply get by your press release being published verbatim on some random website.

What Really Boosts Your Cred

The good news is that there are so many ways to share your news or story, that you can pick the most appropriate way to get it out there.  For the love of the PR gods, please just don’t do a press release because someone tells you that you “should”.  Shoulds are for suckers.

Here’s just a few ideas:

  • Blog about your story or news
  • Share via social media
  • Pitch reporters directly with your story
  • Act as an expert source
  • Create video content
  • Write a guest post about it on a high profile site

Creating “buzz” and getting attention for your story can be done in many different ways. The key is tapping into the avenues that are most appropriate. A highly visual story may be ideal for video or photos, while thoughts on an industry trend may make for the perfect guest post.

Try not to fall into the trap of getting so stuck on your story that you lose sight of the fact that the story should serve to educate, entertain or inform. Focusing on “hey, here’s my new business” or “my new product is here” will not get you very far, the real story is how that fills a need or fits into a bigger industry trend.

Well done publicity, is not a one and done project. It takes time, pressure and lots of patience. But the rewards can be immense when you start having customers coming to you because they read about you in your local paper or or when you are invited to speak because of your last guest post.

As my mom always said, good things come to those who wait. The real question is, can you be patient enough?

What has your experience with press releases been? Do you have a press release #fail you can share. Comment below. 

[Tweet “Skip the press release. Tell your story socially. New blog post via @magspatterson.”]

Are You a Well Kept Secret?

Stop Being Out Shined by People Who Suck.

I’m starting a free three class series on July 23rd at 1:00 p.m. Totally free, no sales pitch – just straight up learning.  We’ll be talking about publicity basics, why your arch nemesis is getting attention and you aren’t and much more.


PR for small business

A Pep Talk About Publicity (Stop Ignoring It!)


You’ve got a smokin’ hot package or service, you are out there hustling on social media and blogging like a fiend, but things are slooooow. Even worse, you are starting to panic because you were SO sure this was IT.

It could be a lot of things from poor market research to simply bad copy on your sales page. But amid the hype every where you turn about launching your 6-figure program and messages about making millions on the Internet doing what you love…there’s something freakin’ missing.

The Numbers Game

Selling anything on the Internet is a numbers game, which truly is no different than in the “real” world. If you were opening up a brick and mortar store you’d do research to make sure you were on a street with lots of traffic or in the right neighbourhood.

When we set up shop on the Internet, we neglect to think about our foot traffic. Instead we keep putting out signs in front of our store hoping people will come in. We blog. We post on Facebook. But if enough people don’t know we are there, they cannot buy from us.

There’s two type of marketing – push and pull. When we push, we are doing the type of marketing where we focus on sending out our message such as blogging or social media. With push marketing, we are basically our own journalists publishing our content.

On the flip side, pull marketing focuses on bringing people to us. These are PR and publicity driven activities such as guest posting, speaking, interviews, and more.

Push and pull marketing should work together in harmony to create the strongest possible platform for your business. Push marketing without the pull is like peanut butter without jelly or Bert without Ernie is straight up wrong.

[Tweet “Push marketing without pull marketing is like Bert without Ernie. Straight up wrong. via @magspatterson”]

Why Your Push Marketing Isn’t Working

Push marketing is powerful, but the reality is that you need people to push it to for it to actually work.

Do you need a million followers? Definitely not. But to sell effectively you need the pull part of your strategy.

You can talk about yourself and your ideas all day long, but the real magic happens when you have someone else giving you a big old vote of confidence in your business. Every single guest post or interview signals to the world that you are someone who’s credible and knows their stuff.

Forget the social proof of 2500 followers on Facebook, press and publicity is equally – if not more – powerful.

It’s just way too easy to ignore the pull part of things and not go beyond our own blog and social media bubble. In fact, many entrepreneurs simply don’t do it because it takes time and energy. And let’s face it, pushing out of your comfort zone and figuring this all out can be downright intimidating.

PR, publicity, promotion…no matter what you want to call it, you can totally do it yourself and have it be a game changer in your business. In fact, it can actually be a lot of fun once you learn the ropes.

Which is why all month long, I’m focusing on talking about publicity in a really practical and tangible way on the blog. I believe so much in the power of publicity to transform a business by bringing the right people to through your door. So, stop playing it safe with your self-promotion this Summer and let someone else promote you instead.

I’d love to hear your two cents on PR, publicity and promotion. If you are so inclined, you can fill out this survey below.


[Tweet “Publicity can transform your business, so stop playing it safe. New blog post. via @magspatterson”]

“Without publicity there is no prosperity.” – Yakov Zel’dovich

PR for small business

Ditch Your Mediocrity: Stop Holding Your Business Back

Last week I was listening to author Lewis Schiff on a webinar and something hit me in the gut. Hard. So much so, that his words are stuck on a continuous loop in my head more than 7 days later.

Schiff’s book Business Brilliant studies the mindset and habits of the middle class versus those of self-made millionaires and billionaires. It’s fascinating stuff and I’ve read the book at least three times in the last year.

On the webinar, he was talking about how the middle class approach to things teaches us to work on improving skills where we are weak. How the school system and traditional workplace train us into this focus on skills improvement, when in reality we should really just work on what we are really really good at.

Is this new information? No. Call it the zone of genius, your sweet spot…whatever you call it, for the love of entrepreneurship, it’s a message I needed to hear. It’s something I knew in grade 12 when I dropped math because it was dragging down my GPA and a career that involved math at that level was never going to happen.

All these years later, why in the hell do I think I need to be able to “do” everything in my business?

Does this Sound Familiar?

Do you do everything because you love to learn?

Because having someone else do it costs too much?

Or worse yet, you don’t trust anyone to do it quite like you?

Hi there. Guilty as charged!

I’m a dabbler because I like to know how things work. I don’t want to eat my profits any pay someone else when I can do it super quick…and it turns into an hour of Googling because I am so damn stubborn.

Who’s with me?

I will say this, I’m probably 100x better at delegating and outsourcing than I was a year ago, but after judging by my reaction to Schiff’s point, I still have a long way to go.

DIY mentality is keeping me (and maybe you?) firmly in a middle class mindset.

[Tweet “Is your DIY mentality keeping you and your biz in a middle class mindset? via @magspatterson “]

I don’t know about you, but I’m here to do more than I ever would working for someone else sitting in a cube watching the minutes tick by as I look forward to cupcakes for someone’s birthday celebration at 3 p.m.

The things that we suck at, we need to stop doing as soon as humanly possible. The things we’re mediocre at should probably go too…because are you in this to be medi-fucking-ocre? Exactly.

Three ideas to get you on the road to ditching your mediocrity:

1. Start by keeping track of the stuff you loathe doing or that makes you slightly insane. That should be the first stuff to go. Figure out what you are really good at and start mapping out a way to focus on that only in your business.

2. Simplify your product/services or niche. Ditch things that aren’t working in your marketing or business. The social network you hate or video blogging that makes you want to barf – hasta la vista!

3. Get help. If you can’t hire a VA, project manager or subject matter expert quite yet, figure out a way to do it. Trade services, offer to help in lieu of payment, get a side hustle to pay for it, save like a mad woman to get what you need.

Persistence is the key to all of this. It can be done, but not if you simply file it away as “one day” or “not right now”.

Life is too short to be mediocre. And really, there’s enough of that going around. Save it for your friends who hate their job and spend all their time living for the weekend. You and your business deserve more.

What’s one thing you can get off your plate to help you be just a bit more brilliant starting this week? How can you ditch your mediocrity? Hit me up in the comments below.

[Tweet “Life is too short to be mediocre. You and your biz deserve more. via @magspatterson”]

PR for small business The Marketing Moxie Show

Episode #23 – Jackie Johnstone: Facing Facts About Facebook

23We are talking Facebook today with social media strategist Jackie Johnston and what all these Facebook changes really mean to our business. Plus we have a chat about batch creating content, injecting personality into social media and how we both love some last minute pressure.

Items Discussed in this Episode:

  • What these Facebook algorithms actually mean to our business and Facebook strategies
  • Why this forces us to up our game by being more consistent
  • Jackie’s 4 content pillars for social media
  • How to inject your personality into your Facebook business page
  • Finding the right line for you in terms of what you share personally
  • Realizing that sometimes you need to make the ask in your content
  • How social media can help you make better purchasing decisions
  • The power of batch creating content and Jackie’s best tips for making the process painless

Top 3 Takeaways for this Episode:

  1. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your content to find the right combo for your audience.
  2. The power of personality for your social media. Find a way to add “you” into the mix.
  3. Batch your social media content to save time and your sanity.








Links in this Episode:

Jackie Johnstone

Jackie’s 4 Pillars Webinar