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.

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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.

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