The difference between having a profile in the media as an entrepreneur and not having a profile can be like the difference between night and day. As a startup business owner you need to put yourself where opportunity can see you.
If you can learn how to package a news story in such a way that the media are literally fighting over who gets the exclusive, you will not only be far more visible than anyone else in your industry, but you will also build the trust and following of your target market. And best of all? It’s free.
Since I started The Entourage in 2010, my team and I have been able to generate over $1 million in PR exposure – from regular features in GQ and Business Insider to multiple appearances on Sunrise, Sky Business, and prime time news. What's more important to me than the dollar value of this PR is the reach and influence it has provided.
One of the things I get asked by entrepreneurs most frequently is how we have consistently been able to do this. The answer I always give is that public relations is all about being the exception to the rule. The fact that you are in business for yourself means that you already stand out – you are already unique. However, this alone is not enough.
Journalists and media producers are bombarded every single day with press releases that are all about the individual or are focused on promoting the person’s business. This isn’t good enough if you want your story to run in the media.
If you do want your next story to run, instead work through this three-part framework that myself and The Entourage's students consistently use:
ONE: Make it relevant – it’s not about you
The worst thing you can do is send out a press release that focuses solely on your company and your achievements. Instead, great press releases leverage off an existing issue that is topical in the media. The issue should relevant to the existing discussion, important and even controversial – something that readers and viewers will identify with the minute they see the headline.
When we were starting The Entourage in 2010, we wanted to reach the market of young entrepreneurs in Australia quickly. One of the ways we did this was to leverage the media to rapidly build our brand and our database.
At the time, Gen-Y was topical in the media. Headlines like ‘Who’d hire a Gen-Y?’ and ‘Why bosses hate Gen-Y’ littered the media with opinions, facts and stats that media companies had collected.
We had heard from corporates; we had heard from government; and we had even heard the opinions of journalists as to why Gen-Y was ‘lazy, disloyal and unfocused’. Yet we hadn’t heard from one party that was involved in all of this: Gen-Y!
We decided to do some research of our own.
We ran a series of round tables with the New South Wales state government of the time. I hosted each one, and we had guest speeches from the minister for small business. We attracted hundreds of Gen-Y’s into conference rooms in an initiative that stretched across New South Wales, giving Gen-Ys a voice about what they believed they needed by way of support in order to be successful as career professionals or business owners.
A vast number of great insights came out of that exercise, both for me personally and for the government of the time.
The most notable finding for me as a university drop-out at the time was the result of our request to participants to rate their university degree from 1-10, in terms of its effectiveness in preparing them for the business world. Universities came out with an average score of three out of ten, which highlighted a real gap in the traditional education system for Gen Ys.
We had clearly found a newsworthy issue. It wasn’t about Jack or The Entourage or even the government: it was about how career-ready Gen-Ys felt when they enter the workforce.
During the period of the round tables and over the following weeks, we were featured in all the major newspapers, local newspapers, radio stations and major news networks, including Channel Ten Prime Time News , Channel Nine Prime Time News and Sunrise.
TWO: Make it factual, and not just an opinion – find the proof
Once you find the issue you’re going to leverage off, you need to work out what your argument is in the context of that issue and find, or develop, facts and statistics to back up your argument. This can be achieved through research if you want to find existing information, or by discovering new information, for example, by holding focus groups or circulating an online survey to people who have an interest in the issue.
The greater your sample size, the more credible your story will be. However, the research you do does not need to be of an academic standard. It doesn’t need a sample size of thousands; it doesn’t need to have the tick of approval of several university professors; and it doesn’t need to run through an 18-month bureaucratic process. Provided it is genuine information that is coming from real people and highlights a real issue, then it has enough integrity to be spoken about.
THREE: Make it credible – being a reliable source
Be the messenger or be the example, ensure your story makes sense and that you can be trusted as a reliable source.
Once you’ve found the issue that you can leverage off, developed your facts and statistics to support the story, you have built permission to insert yourself into the story.
In this instance, if you’re the messenger, then your press release will read something like:
"A recent survey conducted by The Entourage has highlighted that university students are dissatisfied with the level of education they’re receiving while earning their degree. Jack Delosa, Executive Director of The Entourage, said that the findings of the survey highlight that students rated their university degree a three out of 10 in terms of its effectiveness in preparing them for the business world."
However, sometimes you will be an example of what you’re talking about and your press release will read something like this:
"One Gen-Y who bucked the trend of university is Jack Delosa. At just 18 Jack Delosa decided to drop-out of a commerce– law degree in order to develop his own business."
By being the messenger or an example you’re achieving two things:
First, you have developed a broader story that is relevant to more people and is not just about you; second, you have still included yourself or your business in the story so that there is real tie-back value for you and your business.
Once you have found your issue, developed your facts and stats, and worked out how you’re going to include yourself or your business in the story, it’s then time to put pen to paper and write a press release that can be sent to media publications and television shows.
My team at The Entourage recently developed a free short course to enable entrepreneurs at any stage of business to generate PR. If you're interested in undertaking this course click here. You'll learn how to: write a press release that gets noticed, work with social media influencers and become the "go-to" person in your industry. I teach this course myself, so I look forward to "seeing" you there.