From “PR Rules: The Playbook — The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Supersizing Your Small Business” Available in January 2014
By Hope Katz Gibbs, with Kathleen McCarthy
PR Rules: The Playbook
Every business owner wants more visibility, because it’s such a powerful way to bring in more business.
One of the best way to let customers—and reporters—know about what makes you an expert in your field is to write about it. Below, you’ll find information on the value of writing a column and hosting a radio show, some misconceptions about it, why it’s important—and some ideas on how to get started.
What it is:
- The megaphone to tell the world about your area of expertise. By the time you have perfected your business model, you know that your products and services are of use and interest to customers, and you’ll have developed your reputation as an expert in the industry through your PR and marketing campaigns.
- A way to impress more customers. Let prospective and established customers alike know about the good work you are doing! Tell your story in a variety of mediums, including writing articles to be published in magazines and blogs.
- An opportunity to use multimedia to spread the word. With technology being so ubiquitous, and the aging Millennials being digital natives who can lend a hand to their digital immigrant parents and friends, it’s more feasible and affordable than ever to host a podcast radio show or star in an Internet video that shows you off as the expert that you are.
What it isn’t:
- Your column and radio show are not where you vent, or talk about what’s bugging you about the world.
- They are not the place to be completely spontaneous. Yes, we think spontaneity is great, but being unprepared—especially in terms of a radio podcast—is not a good use of your time, or that of your guests. For your entire PR, marketing, and media outreach efforts, plan ahead, be strategic, and know the ROI before you jump in.
- Unless it’s your business or core message, steer clear of politics and religion, and other potential verbal landmines that can do more harm than good to your reputation.
Why it’s important:
- Educating customers is essential to building trust and credibility. By writing interesting, informative articles, you “show, don’t tell” the world about what you know. This is a basic rule of journalism, because it respects readers and allows them to draw their own conclusions from the information presented.
- Being a columnist or radio show host puts you in front of an audience you might not otherwise reach. Since the publication you are targeting for your columns will be related to your industry, it will put you in front of your ideal customer. These readers will also potentially become part of your database and receive your monthly newsletter.
- Consistency is key, and content is king. Just as your newsletter should blast out regularly, columns in monthly publications keep you in front of a broad readership. This enables you to deliver your message repeatedly at predictable intervals, and it’s more effective than simply being quoted ad hoc in news articles.
PLAY WITH IT! Here’s how:
Inkandescent Rule of Thumb: Whether you want to be a columnist in a magazine or host a radio talk show, your success will depend on defining your goals—and honing and perfecting your message—so you can share your wisdom with the world.
How to create a magazine column.
Of course it will be about you or your business, but write it with your readers in mind. Your column should have information your readers and potential customers will want; it shouldn’t be an ode to you or your company. If it’s done right, however, it will leave a good impression of you and your company with readers.
Be sure to ask someone to look it over who has a good feel for language, and who can be candid with you about their assessment of your writing. What information, wisdom, and educational message do you have? This is the place to share it.
- Name your column.
- Be sure that it features your byline, a link to your website, a professional portrait, and a short bio.
- Make a list of 12 article topics you want to write about as an expert in your field.
- Make a list of publications where you’d like to be a columnist. Identify the editor, or managing editor, for each.
Craft a pitch letter. Offer about three reasons why you should be a columnist for their publication. List those reasons in your pitch letter. Be sure to include your 12 column topics in the pitch.
Added bonus: Are you ready to write a book? Take these 12 columns, and if you’ve done your job—you’ll have a book sitting at your fingertips. See more details in Step 7 of the “Playbook.”
How to host a radio show.
By hosting a radio show, you will be seen as an expert. However, the focus shouldn’t be on you—but on your guest. You’ll draw in an audience by providing insight into the people and topics that they want to learn about.
- Name your show, and write 50-100 words about your mission, vision, and goals for the broadcasts.
- Make a list of six show topics, including people you want to interview. Create a spreadsheet, including the contact info for the guests you’d like to have so that you can reach out to them when you are ready. Have back-ups, in case some of the people on your interview wish list aren’t available.
- Look for music to use as the background of your show. If you can’t find an affordable option and you know some great musicians, ask them to craft a short piece of music for you—then give them credit, and promote them on your website.
- Get the best recording devices you can afford. While most laptops have GarageBand and built-in audio, the sound quality might not be as good as you’d like. When we launched InkandescentRadio.com, we invested in a podcast microphone, clip-on lapel microphones, and a soundboard—and continue to tweak our recording devices. After all, sound quality rules when it comes to wanting people to listen to a podcast that’s 10-, 30-, or sometimes 60-minutes long! Practice your intro and using the technology so that each show is as smooth as possible.
- Write liner notes for each show, and use your social media pages and website to promote each episode after it is recorded and polished.
- If technology is not your strong suit, it helps to have an audio producer run through each recorded episode to clean it up.
- Find a spot to host your show. BlogTalkRadio.com offers affordable options. Be sure you can post the audio files on your website, and create a page to feature the show.
To see how columnists write great columns on different themes each month, visit www.BeInkandescent.com.
For ideas on creating popular radio shows, check out the Inkandescent Radio Network at www.InkandescentRadio.com.