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Building Positive Momentum Through Public Relations

07 March 2011

If you've never been in the press, securing media coverage or garnering attention for your business is not usually an instant thing; but it is accessible to everyone and consistent efforts WILL reap rewards. While it can happen very quickly for some - especially if you are able to tie-in with breaking news - for others it may take weeks, or even months, to see results depending on a few factors such as how simple (or not) your story is to communicate, and how consistently you reach out to media.

Recently I interviewed Justin Herald about his use of PR and publicity to build his multi-million Attitude Clothing range. Much has been published about his $50 working capital (lent from his brother) that he parlayed into $7k plus a week selling t-shirts at Parklea markets. But what I loved hearing was how he'd built momentum - and millions - through free publicity.

Unbeknownst to him at the time he had a great media hook: Oddity.

Here he was, business acumen zero - \"The only thing I passed at school was recess\" - and he'd built a thriving clothing brand from just $50. He challenged every business stereotype, yet weekly sales were booming. His oddity made him newsworthy. Little wonder Alan Jones wanted to chat to him on 2UE.

Justin then discovered the other benefit of publicity. As all journalists know, the best way to discover your next news story is watching/reading/listening to what the other news organisations are running. Shortly after the 2UE interview, he was asked to appear on 'A Current Affair'. Which put him and his grass-roots popular clothing brand in front of millions of people.

The very next morning, he received hundreds of calls from retailers wanting to take his stock.

What he achieved - beautifully - was momentum and publicity leverage: jumping from talking one to a few, to talking to millions, in one sweet television appearance. Which cost him nothing but his time.

There are things that you can also do to bring positive momentum into your business and, in particular, your public relations efforts.

Perseverance: Like growing your business in general, a successful PR campaign means dedicating some energy to it. This means continually developing new pitch angles that can spark the interest of media, and following up with the news organisations where you want to be covered.

Avoid the Overwhelm: Don't try to build Rome in a day. There is a wide universe of media out there and the thought of attempting to reach them all can feel overwhelming. Try starting in your local market where you already have built-in news value by being a local business or expert. Or focus on one genre of media, such as trade publications read by your industry, or business press. \"Working\" one area of media can give you the confidence, and success, to spark momentum.

Set Clear Goals - on Paper: Write down your public relations goals and three things you can do to achieve each goal. Take at least one action a day that gets you closer to achieving a goal. The mere process of taking that action creates momentum that will build upon itself.

Build Time For PR in Your Schedule: Every week, find at least one hour to focus on your public relations efforts. Even if it means blocking it off in fifteen-minute increments at a time; in fifteen minutes you can email a pitch to five journalists, place three follow-up calls, or research a new media outlet to see where you could be covered.

Justin Herald's advice: \"Read the newspaper, watch current affairs and listen to talk back radio every day. Then you're across what's trending and what's not, then you are able to quickly phone up and offer your opinion.\"

That's what builds media relationships - and PR momentum.