Powered by Press: Front Page of Newspaper Today, First Page of Google Tomorrow

At the last meetup, I got to talking to some of our members about publicity, media and how to get press.

In a departure from my usual rambling recaps, I’ll try focusing on one topic instead. There were tons of great discussions that happened at the meetup, and trying to include all of them in my recaps was making them too long.

What really works to get publicity?

When I first started researching the topic of how to get publicity, I assumed it would all be tricks for how to get people to talk about you. Blatant self-promotion.

I was wrong. Ironically, the main idea that PR pros seemed to repeat was, “Be the sideshow, not the star.” Latch onto an existing hot topic that people are already talking about, and find a way connect yourself. A low-key way is to be an “expert source” that can give informed commentary to reporters who need good quotes for their stories.

At the opposite extreme, you can do a publicity stunt like the founders of Airbnb did. During the 2008 election, they created Obama and McCain-themed cereal. Bloggers loved the idea and gave their start-up tons of coverage. Co-founder Brian Chesky explains the story in this video. More back story here.

Are smaller media outlets worth appearing in?

The other myth that got shattered was that you have go big or nothing. Like get on Oprah or quit. In fact, it’s easier and more effective to get mentioned on smaller blogs and local media outlets.

From there, you can “trade up the chain” to bigger and more famous websites and news services. The big media scours smaller players to see what’s getting hot on the Internet. When there’s enough critical mass, the big guys jump on the bandwagon as well, taking the story to the mass audience.

Go from pest to guest

How to become the person everyone wants to interview — In this blog post, tech entrepreneur Neil Patel describes how to approach reporters the smart way. He shares a bunch of different online tools you can use to build your media outreach campaign.

How look good on camera without seeming like a buffoon

The camera has a magical way of making even the most intelligent, confident people turn into nervous wrecks. You don’t know where to look, you talk too fast, and your hands flutter around like butterflies on cocaine.

A veteran TV journalist shares her tips here: How to look good and present your best self on camera. Check out her YouTube channel for more techniques.

The media outlet everyone forgets about

Social media is hot, TV and YouTube make you famous and newspapers have the credibility. But what if there was a media channel where you could just talk, not worry about how you look, present from home and have a captive audience?

That’s radio, especially drive-time radio. Interviews are often done by phone, so all you have to worry about is your voice.

Hot tips:

  • Take a hot shower.
  • Drink tea with lemon before the interview.
  • Smile while you talk. I know this sounds strange, but listeners can “hear” a smile in your voice.

Think about it: people become loyal to a radio station, or a particular DJ. When they’re stuck in traffic, they often have the radio on; it’s too dangerous to text or use your smartphone while driving. You’ve got their undivided attention, a nearly extinct resource in these days of multitasking.

For more on this, check out Radio Guest List.

Here are more resources:

How did you hack the press when you launched your startup? — A discussion thread on Hacker News with some useful insights from the commenters.

How clever entrepreneurs turned three air mattreses into Airbnb — A video interview with Airbnb founders on Mixergy. Airbnb is a website where people can rent out the excess space in their homes to guests. What’s brilliant was how the founders managed to get covered from so many press services.

How to get local media and national media — A post off Tim Ferriss’ blog. He’s successfully launched books including The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, and The 4-Hour Chef.

How to build a media/PR campaign for your business — A podcast from Blogcast.fm where a publicist shares her advice.

How to apply Buzz Marketing principles — Reporters don’t want to promote you, they want an interesting story. This post from KISSMetrics describes how to craft stories that journalists will rush to cover.

Photo: Man reading The New York Times. Jaysin Trevino / Flickr.


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