Podcast

Episode: 398 |
Annie Scranton:
PR for Consultants:
Episode
398

HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL

Annie Scranton

PR for Consultants

Show Notes

Annie Scranton is the founder and president of Pace Public Relations; she has been a producer at the CBNC, an assistant booker at Fox News, a booking producer on Good Morning America with ABC News, and has a Masters in Public Relations. In this episode, Annie shares her experience and knowledge in public relations.

Annie can be reached through https://www.linkedin.com/in/anniescranton or her company website http://www.pacepublicrelations.com

Key points include:

  • 10:00: Becoming a known expert 
  • 17:19: Tips on being picked up by a reporter
  • 23:05: Objectives and process of working with a PR agency 
  • 32:22: ROI on working with a PR agency
  • 36:03: How to find and select a PR agency

 

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman 00:01
Hello, and welcome, everyone, to this Umbrex presents episode, we’re talking to Annie Scranton today, and he runs pace communications PR firm in New York City. Annie, welcome. Welcome to this event.

Annie Scranton 00:15
Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Will Bachman 00:17
So we want to talk today about public relations, and particularly in the context of independent professionals wanting to do public relations. And before we dive into the how, and the why, let’s talk about the what so let’s define terms. Annie, how would you define public relations, just so we know what we’re talking about when we talk about PR?

Annie Scranton 00:41
So public relations is the practice of putting yourself or your company or your brand or product into the media. So it’s basically trying to figure out how to tell your story to the public visa V, the media, so PR can mean a lot of different things. And there’s a lot of different elements to it. But what my firm specializes in and what most people I think, think of when they think of PR is traditional media relations. And that means the art or the practice of pitching a story to a print journalist, a digital journalist, or radio or podcast host or a television reporter or producer, on the hopes of getting yourself or your company or your brand featured in the media prominently.

Will Bachman 01:31
Okay, great. So in this first segment, let’s talk about for someone who wants to do it themselves. How can someone do public relations themselves and pitch your story? And then we’ll segue into if you want to work with a PR professional do that. But what are some of the your tips, your recommendations of things to do, and maybe some things to avoid? If you’re an independent consultant or running a boutique firm or startup, and you’re trying to get press mentions stories in you know, in the paper, or in a podcast or somewhere else? We’ll talk to us about how to do it yourself?

Annie Scranton 02:13
Well, I think the first thing you have to think about is what is the story that you’re telling? And why should anyone care? not just necessarily even the reporter or the podcast host that you’re pitching. But think of if you were listening to that podcast, what’s the takeaway there? Why Why would the person on the receiving end of that media, you know, be interested or compelled by to listen or to read about you or your product? That’s kind of the first thing, because, you know, I think when we’re all working so hard and diligently and we’re building our brand, you know, what we do day to day is, is of the most critical importance, but we have to remember that most of the people out there don’t know who we are, don’t know what we do. And so we need to be able to break that down in a way that’s going to be useful for the listener or the reader on the receiving end of that media outlet. The next thing I would say to do is to really think about the type of audience you’re trying to reach. So are you an independent consultant who works with law firms are works with medical practices, or works with tech startups. Think of who the type of audience you want to attract. And then from there, do a search on Google about what are the top tech related podcasts or the top medical trade publications, you know, try to hone in on the media, or is as a way to start the trade media that your particular audience is consuming. And then once you have identified, you know, start with a small list, the top three, you know, that you think would make an impact for you to be featured in and then spend some time actually reading or listening to or watching that media outlet that you’re pitching. I can’t stress this enough that it’s so important to actually know who you’re pitching, know the anchor, know the host know the show, and what kind of topics they cover. And that’s going to help you be able to craft your pitch in a better way. And that sort of leads me to the next point is then creating the pitch. So the way that we do it when we’re reaching out to media is all over email, all in an email pitch. And so I would say to start out by giving a quick sentence or two about the show or the column that you’re reaching out to say, I’ve listened to a couple of your podcasts I really enjoyed and then put a specific like moment from a podcast it that way. The person on the receiving end is going to know that you actually did spend the time to research and get to know who they are and their brand and then say something along the lines of You know, I think that the story that I have to tell could be interesting to your listeners, because of this, you know, sort of bring it back to the reason why the listener or the reader of that outlet is going to be interested. And you know, from there, I would say it’s okay to follow up like once, maybe a week later, or so, connect with them on social media, it’s all about trying to build that relationship, because you might send a great pitch, but it may just take a while before you actually get that first interview.

Will Bachman 05:34
Okay. And then, in terms of reaching out, so you recommend an email pitch, and 99% probably is not going to get a response, right? Because they’re just so busy. So what do you recommend in terms of the the cadence of following up, and should you hit the person like multiple times at the same time, like, email them, tweet at them, send them a message on LinkedIn, you know, like, Instagram, all at once, or

Annie Scranton 06:04
it’s a fine line, because you don’t want to annoy the person, you know, but you definitely want to make sure that they know that you’re interested and sort of following them. I mean, most members of the media are going to have public social media profiles. So I would definitely recommend following the specific member of the media that you’re trying to make a relationship with, I would recommend, certainly to follow them on social media, I would even say follow them for a week or two before you pitch, because that’s going to give you insights into just who they are as a person where their interests lie, it might just give you ideas, because you’re sort of like pulling back the curtain a little bit through social media into who is the real person behind the anchor, or the host or the reporter. I would say though, to definitely email your pitch. Follow up, I would say maybe three to five days later. If you don’t get a response there, I would say wait for another moment, if you will, to pitch whether there’s another really great angle that you can send to the reporter. Or if there’s another episode that you listen to, and you feel like you could offer a really strong follow up show or follow up interview. And I would say to just keep the interaction up on social media by liking their posts or adding a little comment, you know that you enjoyed it. Because just that name recognition is gonna go a long way when you know, somebody who’s getting hundreds of emails a day, and they’re like, Oh, wait, I saw that. And he likes my tweet, or she replied, you know, and commented on my LinkedIn, it’s about kind of getting in that getting in their headspace a little bit.

Will Bachman 07:50
And what about trying to leverage a mutual introduction mutual, you know, connection, so maybe you know, someone else who is quoted by a reporter, and that person could introduce you, or you know, someone that they wrote a story about you or or you were written about? Or in a in another publication? on some topic, what are some of the those sorts of techniques,

Annie Scranton 08:13
a warm introduction is always the best way 100%, especially with a journalist, I just five minutes before we started, sent an email where where I put my friend’s name, and I said, First Name, Last Name sends me your way, those subject lines get opened, I would say probably 90%, more than any others. So absolutely. If there’s a mutual connection, and go on LinkedIn, go on Twitter, see who’s who’s connected to the person you’re trying to reach, absolutely. Make sure that person knows that you’re going to be invoking their name when you’re reaching out to that person, because they may they may want to do it themselves. Or they may say, you know what, I noticed that when I send an email at four o’clock on Thursdays, she’s very responsive at that time, there just might be certain tricks that you’re not thinking of. But I would certainly absolutely see who’s connected to that person, within your, your network, and then reach out to them and ask them for any advice or tips they may have about the best way to leverage that personal relationship.

Will Bachman 09:18
Okay. Now, this was around, sort of pitching in a story about something that, you know, what if, you know what if you say, well, maybe, you know, is there a sort of another category where you, you might pitch yourself? So it’s not like, oh, here’s a feature story on me. But hey, I’m an expert on greenhouse gas emissions. And if you’re ever doing a story about, you know, greenhouse gas emissions in the agriculture industry, then you know, I’d be happy to be a resource for you. Here’s, you know, some projects I’ve done just more position yourself as a potential source for some story that they’re working on. What what are your thoughts around that?

Annie Scranton 10:00
This is a lot of what we do on a day to day basis with our clients. Because as I was sort of saying at the beginning, you know, you may think that the work you do is the most interesting, unique attention grabbing work on the planet. And it may be, but to you, but to most people, maybe they’re, they don’t care so much, but maybe they do care about a big trending news story that’s in the space that you work in. So aligning yourself as a thought leader, as a subject matter expert as a talking head on those bigger trends, bigger news stories, 100% is a fantastic way, and probably an easier way to start getting yourself inserted into the media conversation, I realized that that may be a little daunting, or a little, you know, uncomfortable to think about, like, well, how am I qualified to be an expert relating to this big, you know, news that’s going on in the industry from a public company, and I’m just this independent cut, you know, consultant? The answer is, is that everybody who works and who has some sort of digital presence can be considered an expert in the space, it’s just about how you position yourself, and the point of view that you’re putting out there. My recommendation would be to make a habit, whether it’s every day or twice a week, whatever it is, and spend five to 10 minutes just go in and Google News and typing in your keywords, you know, that of this space that you work in? And seeing Okay, what are the big stories in the news? What are people kind of talking about? And then think to yourself? Well, what do I think about this story? You know, do I think this partnership that people are talking about is a good idea? And why do I think that the future of my industry lies in this direction, as this reporter has said, or do I think it’s going in another direction, and then spend some time actually thinking through I’m putting pen to paper, your thoughts. And from there, I would say that if you can turn those into short LinkedIn posts as a place to start, that’s a really good, I think avenue to pursue, because it’s, it’s sort of safe, you’re not necessarily pitching yourself to start to a big media outlet. But you’re using your LinkedIn platform as a way to articulate and fine tune your point of view. And then people in your network are going to see it, and they’re going to start commenting and interacting. And it’s going to get you in that process of thinking of yourself as that subject matter expert, because you have to, you have to dedicate time to sort of shifting your thinking, to, to act upon yourself, you know, as a thought leader every single day. From there, I would say if you feel like you have a topic that is, you know, where you have a really good idea or a really good point of view, you can certainly turn that into a blog for your website. For sure. That’s another great way to kind of get that get the word out there. And then you could share it on social media that you’ve written a new blog. But if you have, if you have a really great topic and a really great point of view, and you could turn that into an op ed and opinion piece, then you could find and source the correct outlets, who would potentially be interested in that type of op ed and pick and pitch yourself to that media outlet. And if you can get yourself published in TechCrunch, or in law 360 or in the New York Times, you know, that’s obviously going to elevate you and your brand tremendously.

Will Bachman 13:41
Fantastic. So I’ve got one more question here on this topic. And then I want to have some questions from the attendees. So if you got a question, go ahead and pop it in the chat. And then I’ll call on you to to ask the question. And while you’re thinking about that, one question that I have that came from Jennifer Hart’s here on the call is, talk to us about help a reporter out so HARO. If for Listen, maybe maybe for listeners who aren’t not familiar with that, tell us what it is. And as an independent if you’re trying to do this yourself, how can you make use of that platform to potentially get get covered?

Annie Scranton 14:19
Sure. So help a reporter out, or herro, as we call it, was started by a media professional years ago, over 10 years ago, maybe 15 years ago. And it is an E newsletter that comes out three times a day, morning, afternoon and evening. And it’s a platform where journalists of all types of all types print, digital radio, podcast and TV, when they are looking for an expert source or a story idea or an angle. It’s a free platform for them to write say, you know, I’m a reporter with The New York Post and I’m doing a story on New Yorkers moving out of the city because of the pandemic and if you know any buddy who recently sold their apartment, and they’d like to play it talk to me, contact me here. And they’ll have all the requirements of kind of what they’re looking for. So as a PR agency, it is absolutely a tool that we utilize every single day, multiple times a day. There’s not always stuff in there that’s relevant for our clients. But a lot of times there is. And we’ve gotten some great placements in Tier One publications from replying on herro. So that is something that is a very, it’s, it’s free to sign up, you can just google help a reporter out, you know, you’ll get the emails that come in to you. And you know, I spend time every single day reading through every single one of those because there could be something really great for one of our clients. And if you make that a habit, I mean, maybe it would take 15 minutes of your day, on a day to day basis. You might get some leads there that you can pitch yourself for that could convert into a real media placement. Yeah, Andy is his HARO owned by scission, cis IOM? I don’t believe so. It was started by somebody named Peter Shankman. And I think it’s still independent in that way. Okay, thank you.

Will Bachman 16:11
So, I kind of stopped stopped responding to them. But for about four months, last year, I was working with a PR professional and responding to some of those. And we did get a number of placements, we were in Fast Company, like we were in a number of different more regional newspapers. And so we did get some coverage from it. And, you know, it was helpful working with him to really help me refine what i what i was writing, because mine were often far too long my responses, and he was helping me get it, you know, shorter, snappier, more quotable pieces. And then also making sure that a dented to it was sort of a short bio to make it clear what the credibility was. Could you give me your advice? If you were advising us as your clients? And you’re responding to one of these? Like, what are some of the ways when you craft your response to increase your likelihood of getting, you know, getting picked by that person? I suppose one is just respond quickly, at the you know, as soon as it comes out, they often run several times over the course of maybe two days. So you want to be maybe one of the first responses, what are some of your other tips?

Annie Scranton 17:19
I’m 100% prompt, this is a skill set across the board when it comes to media relations. So 100%, as I mentioned, they it comes out three times a day, more or less around the same time. So get ready to go look through quickly and reply right away. The second thing is, and this sounds so intuitive, but read their request, you know, because a lot of times, you may, you may be like well, I could don’t exactly fit into this request. But it’s a reporter I’d like to make a relationship with don’t pursue it, if it’s not what they’re looking for, you know, and like sometimes they’ll say, We want real people not experts, well, then don’t pitch yourself as an expert, you know, really just reply with what the reporter is looking for. If you’re that, if you’re that fit. I would also say just to get right into it in terms of your point of view, because especially for something like hero, the reporter is going to get so many different responses. And so they’re going to look for somebody who has the best, most interesting, most compelling, most unique point of view that they can share. So just to kind of keep that in mind. And to me, I think short and sweet is always the best way to go. everybody’s eyes glaze over. If they’re reading an email, that’s way too long. So I would say just to kind of keep it short and sweet. And if the reporter’s interested, they’re going to reply and want to learn more, and then that’ll be your chance to dive more into it.

Will Bachman 18:43
Okay, fantastic. All right. So keep your questions coming through them in the chat if you have a question. And let’s see, we just got one from Jeffrey fiddlerman. So Jeffrey, why don’t you go ahead and ask your question, you come off mute and ask your question.

JF 19:01
You would come into video too. So I’ll reword my question then any and well, thank you guys so much for putting this together, I found a lot of really helpful insight and advice. This is something that at least I personally been really trying to focus on more recently, but have found it difficult to carve away the bandwidth to kind of really focus on this the way that I know it deserves, deserves the focus. So my question really is for a growing consulting firm.Once we we hit a point of really wanting to go after PR Media Relations, outbound marketing, things of that nature. Do you recommend bringing somebody on part time full time? Or is there a firm that you recommend? And the reason I asked that question is that I have used services before, but I find them to be way, way, way too generic and ultimately not very helpful.

Annie Scranton 19:59
Well, I mean, I think I think a little bit with PR is trial and error, like, it’s hard for me to say exactly what I think you should do, because it depends so much on the person you hire or the agency you hire and what your specific needs are. I would say, though, at some point, every company, every brand, every consultancy, if media is something they want to pursue, then they’re going to have to put some money and muscle and hires behind it. Because there’s only so much time in a day, you know, that you’re going to have to do your day job and to pursue media in a strategic and meaningful way that’s going to really yield results that matter to you. So a lot of like smaller companies that we’ve worked with, started out by hiring either an internal person, you know, to sort of manage and monitor public relations and media opportunities, or they’ve gone the route of hiring like a freelancer, you know, just like one person to keep costs down. who specializes in PR media. I think both of those options are, are are viable, you know, I think it’s just depends. Ultimately, like, what, and it always comes back to what is your goal, like, What are you trying to accomplish via the media? And then understanding Well, okay, is this job better suited for a freelancer or a PR agency, because we really want to have a constant steady drumbeat of press and just build that up that cadence up to a frequent amount. And we also want to really be in you know, high profile tier one publications and have feature stories told on our company, that’s going to be something that’s going to be more suited, you know, for an agency to help you achieve those goals. If you’re saying you know, what we want to be just push out different press releases, we want to target trade publications, or maybe some local press, you know, and just kind of hit up our news on LinkedIn, and social and you know, just kind of get more of an online presence going, that may be more well suited for somebody in house, be happy to talk it through with you further offline. Because as I said, each of these situations is so nuanced and personal, it’s it’s hard to generalize exactly what would the best route would be to take?

Will Bachman 22:19
So let’s use that Annie. Thank you, Jeffrey, for the question. So so let’s use this as a segue. So the first section here, we talked about doing it yourself. Now, let’s talk about if someone wants to take it to the next level, and engage a PR agency. Let’s talk through first of all objectives. So you mentioned objectives and how that’s important to get clear. When you meet with clients, and you’re starting engagement, talk us through the process of setting realistic objectives, how long it may take in reality, to accomplish certain things, what’s realistic to expect in terms of what types of media you might get quoted in and so forth. So let’s talk through objectives. And then we can talk through maybe the process of working with an agency.

Annie Scranton 23:05
Yeah, so objectives and goals is, is the cornerstone of making sure there’s a successful partnership, when you’re working with any external agency, in my opinion, you know, because if you don’t know, what the goals are, and what the roadmap is to get there, you know, that’s where confusion or you know, or, or, or just kind of resentment may come in, if you’re not seeing results happen in the way that you want. If you are a brand, a consultant or consultancy, who’s had zero to little press, it’s important to remember that engaging within media is a longer term play, there are things that can be done in the short term. But generally speaking, you don’t start reaching out to the media or hire a PR firm. And then, you know, the next week, you’re going to be on the cover of The New York Times, you know, it’s like these things take certainly a good amount of time to to build up. I would say that though, a reasonable expectation is to get responses and interest in feedback from reporters who are in the relevant trade publication space. That certainly is a more viable option where you should, if you have the pitch crafted, you know, well, and in the best way possible that you should start a dialogue there, that could be easy to happen. I would also say local press is a way that you know, an avenue that you can pursue that would likely have yield results sooner rather than national media, which obviously is sort of what most people are looking for. And that can take much longer when when we’re starting with new clients, we always say give us about four to six weeks before we start to see some interviews happen. It could happen much, much quicker. We’ve had clients literally on national TV on day one, when they started with us, but generally speaking, it takes a few weeks because, you know, you need to give a reporter time to actually research you and look into you. And they may already have a string of stories in the pipeline that they need to go through first before they can get to your so though there’s just a lot of factors that go into sort of the timing of when, you know, publication would be able to interview you or publish that story. Okay.

Will Bachman 25:36
Talk us through the process of working with a PR firm. So you mentioned, you know, you would go through these objective setting, upfront, but then what’s the process that first month and then an ongoing basis, how much work is required for the person that engages the PR professional in terms of crafting responses, so walk us through that process.

Annie Scranton 25:56
So the way that we do it, you know, from from the very beginning is we’ll set up an introductory call to learn more about the client and what their needs are, and then we’ll put together a proposal. And then after the clients had a chance to review that, then we’ll sort of come together in terms of contracts statement of work and what the scope is, and the goals are. From there, what we do is, is we have kind of a buttoned up process, we have a new client questionnaire, that takes about maybe 45 minutes for the client to fill out. But that helps us to be really organized and ready to go on day one, because we’ve done some of that sort of pre work before we get started. How we work, every agency does it a little differently, but we do either weekly, or bi weekly calls that can be anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. And that’s a way for us to just check in give you status updates on getting new talking points kick around ideas sort of have that collaboration and creativity amongst, you know, the client and us as the PR agency, the most of majority of the work or the time that’s required is in the very beginning, when we’re sort of getting to know you and kind of understanding how you tell your story, the types of messaging you use, and just understanding the types of opportunities that are going to move the needle for you, that takes a little bit of time, once you’re in that groove about a month into it, the majority of the time or work that’s required on behalf of the client is if we think there’s an opportunity to place an op ed or to place an article, then obviously, we would need to have you either write that piece or you could work with our writer, and we could work it right up for you for an additional fee. But that certainly takes up some time. The other majority of the of the time or work that’s required is if we are pitching you as that subject matter expert, then we would need to know what you would say on that story. What is your point of view? And so that’s referred to as talking points. So we would send you an email and say, Oh, we saw this big story that’s in the New York Times today, we love to pitch you for, you know, as an expert available for commentary. But what is your point of view on this story. So you know, usually we would say it should take no longer than 20 minutes or so to kind of read an article on this give us you know, your sort of quick takeaways, that would be enough for us to actually be able to pitch. And then of course, once we secure an interview, we always hope that our clients will make themselves available as quickly and as soon as possible to get on the phone with that reporter or to jump in front of their computer on zoom to do an on camera interview, you know, and to make sure that they’re available, ready and sort of prepped as much as possible to make sure that they’re going to feel comfortable and give a great interview.

Will Bachman 28:49
Let’s say that you are successful, and you get quoted in a trade press or on a podcast or you get the The Wall Street Journal, New York Times we quoted somewhere. Now, what is the best way to make use of that, whether you had a PR agency help you or you did it yourself? What’s the best way to actually get the most benefit from that from that media mention in terms of posting it on LinkedIn or tweeting it or putting it on Facebook or Instagram or, you know, emailing all your followers? How do you best make use of those sorts of mentions?

Annie Scranton 29:28
Well, I mean, basically any and all of it that you just mentioned. And I should say that if you’re thinking about hiring a PR firm, it is really important, almost critical that you have the infrastructure internally or via another external agency to be able to sort of disseminate the press hits that you get in the biggest maximum exposure way possible because if you give an interview on CNBC, that’s great. But only the people that were watching it right at that exact moment have seen it but If you are able to, you know, use some tactics to send out that clip, you know, via the the online clip that the producer would send you afterwards, then you’re just going to be reaching so many more people. So some of the guidance that we relay to our clients is to certainly have a media section on your website that you populate with new press hits, as you get them. Many of our clients do either a weekly, a monthly or quarterly e newsletter, I would say absolutely include any and all press mentions and there because just kind of gets the eye of people if they’re like, oh, wow, I didn’t know like, well was featured in TechCrunch. This week, like, let me read this article. You know, it’s just a great way to keep people up to date on what you’re doing. And certainly updating it on your social media, promoting it on your social media, make sure that you’re tagging the outlet, the reporter, and you could do multiple posts on this same interview, but I would do it across all platforms that are relevant to you and your brand. I know that people may think that it could be being boastful or, you know, they may not be comfortable sharing, you know, or even thinking about this world of the media. But that’s really especially what like LinkedIn is for you know, is to share the highlights and accomplishments of your career. So I would definitely say sharing it as as much as you can would be a great strategy as well.

Will Bachman 31:33
All right. Let’s talk return on investment. So we’ve been quoted, we’ve shared it on LinkedIn, and Instagram, and Snapchat and WhatsApp and whatever. What I mean, other than vanity like, Oh, I was quoted, invest company, Business Insider feel great about it. Other than that vanity, aspect, debit, what have you seen with your clients? Can you give some examples of actual return on investment? You know, and it’s probably hard to tie to one specific story, but someone who pursues this, you know, over time, in terms of getting, you know, higher dollar value clients, or, you know, dollars per hour or bigger projects or more visibility, what sorts of impact? Can you see?

Annie Scranton 32:22
Sure, um, I would say that for the majority of our clients, and we’ve had so many clients who have been with us for 2345, up to 10 years, literally, that they’ve retained us month after month, to keep them in the press, because it’s media relations is one part of a bigger overall marketing or PR kind of strategy. Where we like to say the ROI comes in is that, by the end of an engagement with us, your overall brand awareness should certainly be at a more elevated level. And also the legitimacy and the credibility of you and your work. And your company, or your brand would also certainly be elevated as well. I’ve had multiple clients say to me, beyond, of course, I saw you on CNBC, and the phone rang, and we got a new client. Okay, that’s great. But that’s, that’s not really what we anticipate to happen every single time a client does interview it can and maybe it will. But you know, there’s, there’s sort of that dissemination process that I think really amps that up. But we’ve had clients who’ve said to us that by putting a media clip front and center on their website, that when they do that intake call with a potential new customer, that seeing them have seen that clip of them on TV, or quoted in the Wall Street Journal, or whatever tipped the scales in terms of them choosing this firm over another firm. I would also say that in any way that you can invest in SEO, especially when you have a video that explains who you are and your process and what you do. People really just like to watch videos now. They want to know who they’re dealing with and get a sense of them before they have that first call. So, you know, if you have a great media interview from a broadcast television or streaming television, and you’re able to optimize that, you know, we’ve certainly heard feedback from clients saying that they saw such and such a video online, and that’s what made them call, you know, but we’ve had clients who, after working with us in the media have been approached by publishers to write a book, we’ve had clients who have asked to become official contributors for different media outlets, both of which obviously lead to new revenue streams, and we’ve had clients then that get asked to do speaking engagements for paid opportunities. So there’s, and really I think what PR does in terms of the ROI is it just expands your network. It’s very it’s it’s not so much a linear practice where you’re saying, Okay, I’m putting like specific advertising dollars on this like social media ad campaign and let me see what the exact results are going to be. Because it’s sort of something that you kind of put out there, you know, when people are going to see in dribs and drabs whenever they’re looking for the service that you’re promoting, or the service that you’re offering, but it has just opened doors tremendously in terms of just expanding network and expanding just the reach that you have when you’re promoting your product.

Will Bachman 35:29
Talk to us about your recommendations on how a client like one of us should choose and find and select a PR agency. So let’s say we’ve made the decision we want to step up to, you know, to engage a firm, how should you identify, you know, sort of the possible firms you want to include in your in your consideration set? And then what’s the process for vetting those and selecting one of them?

Annie Scranton 36:03
Well, I mean, this can be tricky, because there are so many PR firms out there. And a good place to start may just be with somebody locally, you know, if you’re comfortable now kind of getting back in person and face to face, that’s certainly one avenue to consider. There are many PR firms that have specific specialties, like they only work in beauty, or fashion or travel or tech, you can certainly just go on Google and try to find, you know, a firm that works specifically within the sector that you are in, a lot of people prefer to kind of go that route. A firm like ours is more general, our clients completely are wide ranging and go from corporate, you know, finance, political, all the way to lifestyle, beauty, fashion, etc. And so it’s but every client that comes to us, for example, really wants to be featured in the media. And so they know that since we are experts in the media, the specialty or the type of work that the client does, actually isn’t as important as our media connections are and our ability to storytelling to get them placed. But some some, you know, clients are looking to work with specific firms that have had a track record of helping get placements that will attract new investors, you know, or that can do also some lobbying work if they need it, you know, or if they’re having an issue that have experience in crisis communication. So, you know, there are many different types of PR firms out there, I would just say to have as many conversations as you can with different ones because PR since the results are not guaranteed, no ethical publicist should ever say to you work with me. And I’m definitely going to get you these five to 10 placements, you know, an X and X amount of time, it’s just you can’t, you can’t guarantee that when you’re working with real media, real journalists. But so much of it is about the vibe and just the connection that you have, since it is a bit of a leap of faith. So I would just encourage you to have as many conversations as you can just to kind of get the different vibes and personalities of the people that you’d be working with.

Will Bachman 38:20
Okay, great. I want to call on some people to ask some questions or see what’s on their mind. And I’m just gonna cold call. So Jennifer hearts. Do you want to come off? Do you have any? Do you have any questions to build on what we’ve been discussing?

JH 38:44
One of the questions is about how you talk about yourself and your expertise and how great you are to work with without any new?

Annie Scranton 38:56
Well, I think I think the first thing to think about is kind of, you know, what is your personal brand? It’s, it’s something that I talk about a lot, you know, everybody who’s listening, everybody out there has their own sort of special currency. You know, the thing that kind of sets them apart from everyone else, even if you’re saying to yourself, no, I don’t I’m not special. I don’t have anything you do. So I would say if you’re having trouble figuring out what your own personal brand is, is to ask current clients, former clients, past colleagues, family members, friends, and just sort of take a poll of like sort of what it what they enjoyed working with you, you know, that’s going to give you a sense, when people say to me, Well, what’s your personal brand? Any I say, I can get you on TV. And so then, you know, that’s usually like perks up the ears of the person listening and then I can launch into more about what my firm does and what our capabilities are. But I would say that you have to get comfortable being able to Put out there, what your special secret sauce is what your special currency is. Because if you’re not doing it, someone else is going to be doing it for their benefit. So you might as well be putting yourself in in the ring for consideration. But I would also say that you can let your own work speak for itself, I’m very quick to mention to prospective clients that if they would like a referral, you know, they could talk to a multitude of clients to hear not from me who of course, I’m going to be promoting myself in the best way possible, but hear from clients what their experiences like working with us. So I would, I would just be armed with sort of stats and data that quantifies the work that you’ve done, you know, where you can say, we’re really, we really excel at this specific thing. So much so that our across the board our clients last year, after using their services, their revenue increased X percent, or whatever that metric is for quantifying the work that you do. But if you sort of have those data points handy, it’s going to feel less boastful and more just factual in terms of the capabilities and the work that you offer. Yeah.

Will Bachman 41:14
So I’ll build on that I’m obviously not the PR expert i’d my reaction Jennifer on that would be not worrying too much about trying to communicate in that media mention like how great you are as a consultant to work with. You know, it’s probably unusual that we’re going to get a story that will be like a cover story about Jennifer hearts and your ESG. And overall, like practice just focused on you, it’s more likely that it would be, you know, you getting quoted on some story about that topic. And if that, quote, shows credibility, or it says, like, oh, in my work with a fortune 100 company that was struggling with the same thing they did XYZ, that’s gonna, like embed that credibility in there. So it might be asking almost too much to try to, you know, say something smart and show that you’re great to work with and show that you’re top of the game. Like, if it’s more just sort of getting mentioned, and you know, in showing some credibility, maybe, maybe all you can do in one, one quote, if the story is not like just about you, I want to turn to Rick, who had a question, Rick, go ahead.

Rick 42:25
Come on mute. But I just saw Jeffrey’s question. I want to make sure we get to it too, cuz I’m intrigued by it as well. But any thanks for the information you’ve shared so far. I am curious, when you think of all the different avenues for placement, how should How are you guiding clients to be thinking about where should they target and even those of us that may be trying to DIY for a little bit until we’re ready for your services? How do you help kind of advise on where to choose the right placement?

Annie Scranton 42:51
Well, um, I think that, again, it comes back to your goals and who you’re trying to reach. If you’re trying to reach a mass audience, just as many people as possible for overall brand awareness, then definitely, you’re going to want national media, you know, cnn.com, business, Insider, Huffington Post, etc. But if you’re trying to reach people in the tri state area, then you’re going to want to target local media, you know, in the tri state area. But a good place to just start if you’re a newbie, or you’re doing it yourself, are those relevant trade publications. You know, if you work in human resources, there’s HR executive, you know, as as one publication, if you work in PR, there’s prsa, which has their own publication, you know, where you can, just much easier to kind of get that conversation going, and ultimately, that placement. And then I would also just encourage you to think about in sort of that larger trends, news story area, what are the one to five outlets that are covering news that’s most germane, that’s most relevant to the content that you’re working in to the area that you’re working in. And then from there, really spend time on those websites every day until you get a sense of which specific reporter is the one that’s covering most closely aligned to the work that you could attach yourself to as that subject matter expert. And then to make it a practice every day where you just quickly check out their their page and see if they have a news story, check out their Twitter or their LinkedIn to see what they’re posting on. And just spend time zeroing in on like a few key reporters to try to make that relationship with.

Will Bachman 44:38
Brilliant, thank you. And we had a question from Jeffrey, who asked about investment. So how much we should we think about invest, if we’re gonna do PR, we want to do it right. There may be some minimum amount of dollars where if you’re going to spend less than that, it’s like don’t bother, how much we should think about in terms of what’s the financial investment if we want to do this, and in a in a way that’s gonna actually yield results.

Annie Scranton 45:03
I mean, our firm’s minimum monthly retainer is 5000 a month. And generally speaking, we signed six month contracts. And listen in this time where we’re kind of coming out of COVID. And everything is still a little bit upside down, there’s always room for flexibility. But I think, most established PR firms that’s about the the minimum would be 5000 a month, as I said, you could certainly find freelancers who will be less, you know, money than that, when I was first starting out, you know, on my own, I charge much, much less than that. But you know, when you’re thinking about hiring an agency, you’re not just getting one person you’re getting a decade or years and years of experience compounded by all of the people that work there, you know, because an agency, one of the benefits is, of course, you’re going to have a dedicated team of two to three staff members who are specifically working on your account. But you’re also going to have access to all of the connections that everybody in that agency has worked with in the media, you know, in their creativity and their ideas. So it’s, you know, there’s there, there certainly is that added value when you’re thinking of an agency, but timing is really critical. You know, and so I would encourage everybody to just think about, do you have, you know, a big moment, you know, are you launching something new? Or have you are you about to close an investment round, or, you know, whatever, that, you know, think of the time when it would be the most useful to make that spend. And then that might be the time to engage with an outside agency.

Will Bachman 46:42
Yeah. So, even though, even if a freelancer had the same skill sets, you’re, what you’re also getting is you’re getting the credibility of that intermediary, so that when the reporter sees a pitch from a PR professional that they’ve trusted, that they worked with, before that’s pitched other great clients, it gets a lot more credibility, and then some random Freelancer that you count on Upwork, who maybe is a great writer, but but doesn’t have that credibility built up in the industry, a little bit like having, like, sort of like having an agent, if you’re going to, you know, to studios, or something or trying to get a book published.

Annie Scranton 47:22
Yeah, I mean, when you’re, especially when you’re talking about the media, like when I was working in TV, 11 years ago, on any given day, I would get literally hundreds of pitches, and I’m sure that number has increased even more in this day and age. And I would delete most of them. In less, I recognize the person who was sending me the email, and then I would take the time to read through what they were saying. So you’re really paying for the access to the media and the connections that we collectively as a firm have built up over all of these years, along with just our understanding of how to pitch and what makes a good story, you know, and how to sort of take what our client’s goals and needs are and merge them with what the media is looking for, you know, it’s not, I always say it’s not rocket science, anybody could, in theory, pitch themselves, but there’s just, but it takes time. And it takes sort of that understanding. But most importantly, it’s really just getting the media to open your email. And usually, that is through the name recognition of working with a firm. And also it’s just going to kind of elevate you to say that you you know, to for a journalist to say okay, they have a PR firm representing them, as opposed to just pitching yourself, it just kind of sets you apart in in a more elevated manner.

Will Bachman 48:42
So second to last question, jib to Jennifer hearts. Jennifer, you dropped a question in the chat, share that question with us.

JH 48:50
Yes, please. How do you avoid having clients who are competitors? And this is the PR, right? Yeah.

Annie Scranton 49:01
Yeah, um, well, we? Well, first of all, we, we would have a conversation with, you know, the existing client if there was a prospective competing client who was going to come on, um, unless the brands though were completely totally identical. There, I think there is a way to represent different clients in the same space. Like for example, you know, we do a lot with in the financial services and wealth management industry. When I’m booking those clients on CNBC or Fox Business or Yahoo Finance. They’re only allowed by the network to go on at most once a week. So by me representing others in the financial services, it’s not going to take away anything from those clients. It’s just going to leave opportunity for other clients to kind of get on in that same cadence. And a lot of times, it actually is helpful to have more than one client in this space. Because if Fox Business says, I need somebody at three o’clock today and my one clients on vacation, then I have somebody who’s kind of like a backup, you know, who can who can do that? Who can take that opportunity. But we just would, you know, it’s sort of an internal process where we would just figure out and consult the current client first, about, you know, what would their their thoughts be? And sort of, you know, how if we think it would only enhance the, you know, the current company, workflow, but certainly we wouldn’t take on any competitors if we felt like it was going to detract from our current clients.

Will Bachman 50:40
All right, fantastic. So thank you, Jennifer. So I have one request for everyone who’s on the call, if you could put in the chat. What was one thing you heard today from Annie that either surprised you or you found insightful or, or useful? So just what was one takeaway for you that you really enjoyed if you could put those in that in the chat. And then while you’re doing that, Andy, this has been really helpful. I’ve had a number of people sending me private messages here that they really enjoyed this they found it thought provoking. We had one person said to me that every Yeah, every time that something pops in my head and he answers it, is she also psychic This is great. So you’re anticipating a lot of our questions. If you could please tell us how to find you online if we if someone on this call or listening to this later wants to follow up? How where should they go?

Annie Scranton 51:40
Sure. Um, so our website is paced public relations comm p AC e public relations calm. You can shoot me a note on twitter at Annie Scranton or I’m on LinkedIn, Annie Scranton.

Will Bachman 51:53
Fantastic. And the takeaways are coming in here. We had Jeffrey says it was insightful building a list of podcasts and targeting interviews for brand recognition. Stacy mentioned that learning about how to best respond to herro requests was helpful. Rick Denton mentioned about dedicating five to 10 minutes a day to Google keywords to think about targeting the right. publications and reporters and sundeep lolly mentioned about focusing on the media trade in your area of expertise first, and Robin talked about how to prep to reach out to media outlets by following him on social media. And Jennifer mentioned building relationships with the actual reporters who focus on your space and not so much the publication but really targeting and on those reporters. So lots of takeaways today. Any this was really fantastic. We’ll include your your your firm’s URL in the show notes for this. And thank you so much for joining today.

Annie Scranton 52:56
Thank you for having me. It was a lot of fun.

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