How to Get Regular Local Media Coverage Without Spending a Dime ⎜ eReleases ⎜ EP 145
Ryan Cramer: What's up everyone. Welcome to my corner of the internet. I'm your host, Ryan Cramer and this is Crossover Commerce presented by PingPong Payments, the leading global payments provider, helping sellers keep more of their hard earned money. Happy, happy Friday, everyone. This is Ryan Cramer and welcome to another wonderful episode of Crossover Commerce. This is a beautiful day and I have such an amazing week this week. Hopefully you do too. I just wanted to get kicked off. This is day five of five that we've done these episodes in this week. An episode a day keeps the boring podcast audience away, right? There's so much content we've packed in this week, and I'm really excited to round out our week in a fun and a really useful fashion. But before we get started, if you haven't been to the show before, listened to the show, or watched the show, I should say, if you're watching right now, you can actually... This is presented by PingPong Payments. What is PingPong Payments? We're, no, not a table tennis company. They are a cross- border payment solution helping people pay different entities around the world, whether it be your supplier, manufacturer, your VA, and pay them in localized currency. Or you can actually, if you're selling in different marketplaces too, you can receive and repatriate your money to make sure that it gets back to your local currency without spending so much in fees. Again, the traditional way is out the door and now it's going to be saving more of your money and putting that back to your bottom line. So that being said, go ahead and check out and sign up for a free account today with PingPong Payments. You can do that by clicking on the show notes or in the comment section, you'll find a specialized link. Just mentioned Crossover Commerce sent you and they'll hook you up over at PingPong. Again, it's free to sign up. You don't want to waste money. Go ahead and save some with PingPong today. That being said, again, I alluded to earlier, this is episode 145. I just wanted to shout out to everyone. We started this journey a year ago yesterday and the number of episodes that we've done in one year alone has equated to 1. 8 per working days. Well, we'll give that air quotes because we're working on weekends too. Let's be honest. Per day, that we've done the show, and I've been super excited to get some of the greatest minds in the Amazon and eCommerce space on the show. But that's because it's people like you who keep asking me questions." I want to learn about this. I want to learn about that." And I too have been yearning and wanting to learn about this journey along the way, about how to make businesses grow as brands grow as businesses diversify, whether it's retail onto online or online to retail or vice versa, or just trying to strengthen your digital footprint across the board. That is what the show's been all about. So I just wanted to give a quick thank you to all the listeners who are listening out there for letting me do the show and providing great feedback and context to that. If you have other feedback and comments, definitely send them my way. Other than that, let's go ahead and get this thing started. We are titling this episode today, how to get regular local media coverage without spending a dime. Sounds too good to be true. Let's be honest. This sounds too good to be true, but we're going to listen to our guest today talk about some of the best ways in order to build up that confidence, build up that network, if you will, and to help media work for you and grow your business. And that being said, our guest today is Mickie Kennedy of eReleases. 22 years ago, he founded eReleases after realizing that small businesses desperately needed a press release service that they can afford. The rest is history. While working with Week PR he helped grow businesses through his diverse nature, his networking, and his skills and know- how to help businesses grow, with that being said. The rest is history. I'm going to let... I'm not going to speak for him because we have him and are lucky enough to have him on the show today. So that being said, let's get him on already. Mickie Kennedy from eReleases. Mickie, thank you for joining us on Crossover Commerce.
Mickie Kennedy: Glad to be here.
Ryan Cramer: I appreciate it. Well, you've had 20, 22 years, right? I didn't misread that. 22 years in the PR industry. That's a long time, right? Or I would say that's... You would call yourself an expert in the field, right?
Mickie Kennedy: Definitely. I've been around, done a lot, seen a lot of changes. I've seen a lot not change, but I've seen a lot of people's perspective and views about PR shift over the years.
Ryan Cramer: Well, amazing. So what made you get into this field? That's a lot of writing, copywriting, a lot of engaging and network. I would say networking is the really biggest part to make sure that, A, your clients get that exposure, but to know that it's well worth their time to get exposed to it. Does that make sense?
Mickie Kennedy: It does. I got involved by working for a telecom startup as employee number three, and one of the things that I had to do on top of sales and marketing was PR. And we had to get press releases out to the media. Then it was through faxing, and my job was to program the fax machine and hit send. But we started to see a lot of people calling in and asking if we could just email the press release over as a Word doc because we published a lot of telecom numbers and statistics, so they just felt it was easier to copy and paste from Microsoft Word than a paper fax. So that's when the light bulb went off, and I said," Email is a natural evolution of this." And I spent about a year reaching out to journalists and asking them if I could send them press releases on certain topics that they wrote about. And most said," Yes." And it was almost 23 years ago I launched with 10,000 journalists in my database, and it's just been growing over time. All of our releases now get issued nationally over PR Newswire, so it's a win- win for small businesses and entrepreneurs trying to get another avenue of distribution. But I've seen it all. I've seen the mediocre press releases that someone announces a new employee or something like that. I hate seeing those because they don't do very well and you really shouldn't be spending money to issue those over a wire because they're not going to do much. But I still see releases that work, and I see a lot of patterns as well that work.
Ryan Cramer: Oh my gosh. Well, I've always been jealous of people when they say," Oh yeah, I have a PR release about a new employer." Things like that. Like as a colleague, that's I would think kind of cool as a kitschy or nuanced thing. So kind of going into it right away, you said that there's good things to release to the world, but there's also, it sounds like there's the opposite, right? There's bad things to put out into the world that make you less credible. Can you just give that basic overview of this is worth your time versus not worth your time?
Mickie Kennedy: Right. So major milestones are certainly worth sharing. Unfortunately, unless you've stolen a really veteran employee that's really known in the industry, very few people are going to be interested in an employee change or evolution. I think businesses tend to do it because it creates goodwill with the employee and the staff and stuff like that. But it is sort of a squandered opportunity, especially if you're paying the fees to issue it over a news wire, which isn't cheap. The things that do work are, I always say, pretend that you're the journalist who's acting as a gatekeeper. What could you release that would be of interest to his audience and how could you make it more compelling for his audience? So if you have a new product that you're releasing, what is it that makes it really cool or exciting, that something that an audience member would want to read about? What's your USP? What makes you unique? And if you can sort of tap into that and craft something that's a little bit more newsworthy or a little more relevant to the audience, a journalist acting as a gatekeeper is going to be like," Yeah, let them through. That's good. Let's put that into an article."
Ryan Cramer: Right. Major milestones. I think ones that really stands out to me would be if there's an acquisition, or if there's a big money spend, or like you said, they are going public or anything of that sort. But a lot of those tend to be more major corporations. Like as you grow over time, I would say that as a small-to- medium- size business, well, do I have to scale that back or is it in the same kind of like, hey, grand opening or something like that? What would you be your suggestion for an entrepreneur in that main category?
Mickie Kennedy: So a grand opening would be really relevant to local media for something like that, reaching out directly to local media as opposed to paying for a service is a better use of your money. When it comes to local media, you're much better off doing it yourself, and I think that we're going to talk, explore that a little bit today, how you can do that. But milestones that are meaningful. Sometimes you can create your own, like developing a survey or study within your industry. That's really relevant and the media really responds to those and those do really well. And hacks in that vein, or if you don't have an audience to send the survey to, you can partner with a trade association. The smaller, more independent ones are much more willing to do this than the larger ones, but you can get them to send the link out to their members via email and through social media. You can also even co- brand them in the press release, giving you a little bit more credibility. But right now is a time with everything that's been going on, there's a lot of uncertainty. So if you were to take the temperature in your industry and get a perspective of how people feel right now, do you feel like things are getting better? Are you planning to spend more on your marketing dollars going forward? All of that information is really relevant, and I could see a lot of media saying," Oh, this survey just determined that in this eCommerce field, this is how people feel. And this is where they're going to start spending their dollars or taking their dollars away and being a little more cautious," and things like that. So anything like that can really elevate you and get you noticed. And a lot of people feel like," Well, I'm not an expert in my industry." You don't have to be to do a survey or study. Just the aspect of you authoring it and getting it out there makes you an expert when it comes to the questions that you ask because you're the only one with that data.
Ryan Cramer: Right. Well, we were talking about national versus local. Is PR really a... If you're going to be distributing this, this is standardized format. If I'm a team of one and I have never written a PR news release or anything like that, clearly you wouldn't want to work with a professional. But if I'm going to try my hand at that, is there a templated way to introduce that to localized media or national media? Obviously before you go nationally, you're probably going to want to get another eyeball or two on it, but localized media, is it safe that you work with a lot of people who do that by themselves and-
Mickie Kennedy: We do.
Ryan Cramer: ...whether it was successful or not, it's up to the person, but-
Mickie Kennedy: The pattern that we see is a lot of people who are really afraid to write a release will use us to write their initial release. Then when they see how simple it is and straightforward, they usually take over and start writing the releases themselves going forward. If you go to ereleases. com, I think in the footer is a link to press release samples. You can get a look for what's out there and it's pretty straightforward, third person. If you have a compelling quote, you include that. But the real energy that I would ask people to spend on is what it is that you're announcing. Can you make that more relevant to an audience? Can you make it more compelling? Can you even draft something that would speak to the audience really well? Then when you're actually composing the release, the headline is the most important because that's how people view you and decide whether to click through. And I always tell people to put a compelling quote in the press release. Put something that can't easily be paraphrased. A lot of times a journalist will look at a press release and say," That's a soft story. If I have a little filler maybe I could use it." But then they see a really great quote and they'll go," Wow, that's really going to make this article stand out." So they're much more likely to run with it, especially if it's just a safe topic that isn't really newsworthy but it's okay. It would be a nice filler piece. So that's another way to really stand out is to spend a little extra time on that quote and make it something that just sort of is interesting and can't be easily paraphrased.
Ryan Cramer: Right. I instantly think of, when people use the phrase clickbait, they use it in a way to get the, like you said, reader to say," Oh, that's interesting." It could just be either a shock title, which not a lot of PR releases are, but it can also be more of a shift or a very prominent, basic fact, and then that quote can really carry you through. Is that the difference between the trust factor between you and that local PR news outlet of," Hey, they're going to send me something again. It was great last time. We got either traction or got less eyeballs. They also had great substance." Those all working together is going to help soften that, like you said earlier, gatekeeper mentality of," Oh yeah, they sent me through great information last time. Let's give them another whirl." And then does that really start to build that rep or that rapport between you and that outlet?
Mickie Kennedy: Yeah. When it comes to local media, I always tell people there's probably less than 12 people in your local area that would write about you. So it's just 12 people. You need to get them, build your Rolodex, and then just start emailing them stories or ideas. It doesn't have to be a press release. For local media, just having a newsworthy hook of something that you're doing that you feel would be relevant is all you have to do. I always say you ground it and just say," Hey, I've noticed your articles over the years," or" I've recently read the article you did on X, Y, and Z. I really liked something specific," so that they know that you actually read it. If you're not going to be specific, just say," I'm a local company" or" I'm doing eCommerce locally and I feel right now it's a really hot topic about X, Y, and Z, and my company is relevant because of this, and I would love to talk to you a little bit." And you could just pepper it with a really compelling quote as well that maybe could just form the basis of an article or something like that. So it's as natural as that. How do you get their email addresses? You just call and ask. They-
Ryan Cramer: Go to their website too.
Mickie Kennedy: Their website may have it. You may also check on Twitter. I know that a few journalists like Twitter, but most of those are more national. I think a lot of the local ones, an email address is going to be the most appropriate. When it comes to TV and radio, if there's segments that you've seen in the past that covered companies like you, or maybe there's a radio channel that does a roundup of local businesses and spotlights things from time to time, you would just want to reach out to the producer of that show or the booker, depending on the structure, not the host of the show. And again, once you get their email address, you just send them the idea. Over time, if you are known as someone who gives good ideas, you can be their go- to person when they're working on the story. And they're like," Oh, what company could I mention here? And they're," Oh, I remember this company," and just plug you in there. I think that's one of the reasons that so many local newspapers tend to use the same companies again and again when they're doing examples and reaching out to people for quotes and things like that, because they've done the legwork and they've established this relationship. I always say, try to do four to six interactions a year. It's a good way to just reach out to them. Places to see is maybe not in your city, but maybe you have a competitor or someone that you know in another city and maybe could create a Google alert, and whenever they come on the radar, you can analyze what the article was about, and then just reach out to your journalists. You don't tell them," Hey, I saw this in another market," but what you do is" I've been seeing a trend about articles talking about this and I think I'd be a really great example for you to cover me in that regards in our local market." And so that's another great way. Also trade, industry trade publications. When you see something that's trending or has been trending, local media may not have joined the bandwagon and it might be an opportunity for you to mention that and say that" This is really exploding in our industry, and I'd love to break that down and share that with you and how that's applicable to my business."
Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. Well, lot of the things are from the... I'm the listener right now. I'm hearing lots of great ideas. I think knowing what's trending in national coverage, like you said, not just national coverage, but maybe wherever your competitor might be, if it's you put out that news alert. I have news alerts out for specific things, predominantly industry buzzwords, specifically my name or my category, or if someone even mentions a company, I get notified right away. And then knowing that for a fact that Google obviously through SEO and whatnot alerts, super free. It's free. It's nice to know that what's actually trending out there instantaneously. But then also what I heard was really compelling of be that go- to person in your localized market. So lots of eCommerce sellers, lots of them live in quite big, or maybe not so big markets, but if they can reach out to you for a specific quote or idea, they typically... Which is good. I'm assuming you're going to go into this, is they typically will link back to either your business or a website or some sort of page or past piece that they put on, or they featured you on. Again, building on SEO, building that link out to businesses, whether it's products or services, or just thought pieces of you in the past, that Rolodex becomes more that you can tap into I would assume for your own PR purposes of feature, as featured in Dallas Morning News XYZ or Indianapolis Star, which is where I'm at. Features like that are just so compelling. Do you want both positive only, or do you want negative as well? Like negative trending stories, but then like how that's affecting as well? Is there a good, healthy mix that you want to talk about?
Mickie Kennedy: Yeah. I think that negatives can be good. It just, does it show you in a negative light? If it's just your industry is undergoing something that's really harsh right now and you're persevering through it and discussing the challenges, that's really relevant and I think that that's completely appropriate. But if it's something where the industry is sort of under being, just something negative, like credit repair agencies or something where the government or someone is just coming down and cracking down on it, you may not want to poke your head out and draw attention to yourself. So I would say just use common sense, but there's... The media loves challenges. So if you've been dealing with the pandemic in a certain situation in a certain way, it's quite appropriate to share that and to share, and be quite honest with the struggles you had, what changes you had to do, how you had to modify your life, and those challenges because there're human interest stories. They're the type of things that people respond to and are receptive to. I often get my startup clients to include embarrassing stories about themselves and when they're growing, because Inc. magazine and Fast Company, for example, both love those. And I recall one client who told me about how their business took off a little bit faster than they wanted and they spent Thanksgiving filling packages in their garage rather than eating turkey around the dining room table. And they said, grandma, the uncles, everybody was just pitching in and they still ate Thanksgiving food, but they had it on the sidelines and they were just filling packages. And I told them," That's a story they should share." And it did get picked up in Inc. magazine, because I just know that those are the types of stories that people like. The journey of a startup. The journey of an eCommerce shop. So many mom and pops want to appear larger than they are, but sometimes just owning who you are and the struggles and obstacles and difficulties that you have trying to scale up are the things that I think the media responds to, and what ultimately their audience responds to as well.
Ryan Cramer: That's an amazing story. I love that notion, and I instantly went through this movie montage in my head, which is what I do quite frequently of your phone buzzing or beeping every time an order comes through and it's going nonstop. Someone leaves a room, sprints out there, and then all of a sudden you start to recruit one after another. And then instantly, it's just the whole family. Like," We got to do this," or" Where's this person?" And they find them, and they're just overwhelmed. But that's so cool. I love that capability. Did that start because of new releases and media coverage, or that was just, it was almost... I say this. The one thing I can think of that brings instant notoriety that's kind of famous is being on Oprah's O list, right? I feel like anything somebody of that magnitude can touch or bring light to, it feels like this instantaneous like, what is it, where can I go, I have to buy it influencer like mentality. Is there other media that has that feel or sort of impact that in your mind?
Mickie Kennedy: Sometimes morning shows like Good Morning America and things like that will do product spotlights, and that can just drive a lot of sales to people. That being said, sometimes it's just a mixture of places. A lot of little individual newspapers just thought this was a really cool product or service and they just wrote articles about it. So it's really hard to say where you're going to find your leverage point, but that is one of the real valuable things about PR. With a little bit of effort, you can do one release and potentially get like six to 12 articles written about you. It does happen. And we did an example last year for the Dining Bond Initiative, which was a small PR firm was putting together this initiative to help basically your local restaurant that was shut down during the pandemic, a way to get money directly to them immediately. And you would get the equivalent of like gift certificate voucher in a certain denomination based on what you gave. And it got picked up in over 150 publications nationally. Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, all the heavy hitters. A lot of the food magazines and trade publications, travel magazines picked it up, and dozens and dozens of small papers throughout the US picked it up. It was really easy to just add your local restaurant, and if they accepted it, then you could immediately start giving them money. And then the proceeds would go to them. It was one press release. We did it as a courtesy. But it would have probably been like$ 269 to send something like that through us. And it generated more than$ 10 million in revenue, and got hundreds of articles. And it lived for very short period because it had a very defined target in which to help, but that's the real leverage of what a press release does. I challenge anyone in marketing to say," Spend$ 300 and create millions of dollars in revenue." It is possible with PR. It's more likely that you'll get like a small handful of articles if you're really newsworthy, and revenue can be all over the place, but it's not unusual for people to create many tens of thousands of dollars in revenue from just a few hundred dollars spending on a press release. That being said, you want to make sure that you're doing a proper PR campaign, which is four to eight releases. You're not going to know if PR is going to work for you until you've tried several different strategic approaches, and four to eight is usually the minimum of a PR campaign to determine if it will work for you. I always tell people that sometimes it's the first release that hits, and sometimes that can be discouraging when your second one doesn't and you're looking to recreate the magic. But sometimes you just take every press release that you did as a learning experience, and if you took one approach, I would say, like I mentioned, the survey or study, I've never had that one fail. If you do a really good survey or study and you ask the right questions, you're going to get some level of pickup. I've never had that not get media pickup. It does take a little bit more work and you do have to ask good questions, but there's places like SurveyMonkey that analyze the data for you so you're not having to count ballots or anything like that. I always tell people to throw in one or two oddball questions. It's amazing how many times those questions are the ones that the media really responds to. I know an auto repair shop that did one study on auto repair centers, and their question that was the one that I suggested was, what's the strangest thing a customer's left in their car while being repaired? And it was a open sentence or two that they could put in that field. And we got so many crazy anecdotes and stories, and those for what all the auto trade publications ended up publishing. They were not interested in most of the rest of the survey. Some of them covered bits and pieces of it, that they've wanted these outlandish stories, you know, boa constrictors, story of grandma being left in an urn, and they called the shop and said," We left grandma in the car and we have to go get her," and they're like all confused because they don't see anyone in the car.
Ryan Cramer: They don't see anyone.
Mickie Kennedy: Right. But yeah, her memorial was coming up that evening and they forgot they left her in the back of the car. So those stories are... they're entertaining and it is what people respond to. So at the end of the day, what can you make that's really compelling and entertaining that people would want to hear about? And if you ask those right questions, you're going to do really well with a survey. The customers that do them again and again and they do them well, generally get anywhere from eight to 16 articles written with each survey that they do. They're usually industry specific and they're usually tied around a specific time or theme. So if there's something really trending in your industry right now, if you were to take their temperature on all the aspects around that and maybe throw in a couple of other questions including the oddball questions, you have a really good bit of data that you can use for building a press release and you focusing on what you feel the most surprising responses were, or what came out of the survey that would surprise the average person in your industry.
Ryan Cramer: Well, there's lots to unpack. First off, putting your marketing team on blast for the ROI on that, you said 200-and- something- dollar press release, to get millions of dollars in revenue. That's quite a fee, and good luck to them to try to replicate that. But second of all, I've loved that standout notion. That applies to entrepreneurship in general. How do you stand out? How do you make an impact instead of being a me- too product or service? And that is what I always look for in the media that I consume. Not that I don't believe it's true or not, but something that's really going to capture attention and still deliver on all the necessary bits that you need to deliver to make an informed, educational release or any sort of news story in that regards too. And I like the localized version of national focus, like you said. I think we saw most recently Olympics, for example. International story going on. Let's highlight localized individuals if they're competing for the first time, if they're a business that affects you, whatever that might be. And it was a series of two weeks or so, them trying to curate this kind of content, tie it back to localized entities because there's something as grand as the Olympics going on. So does that mean that if I'm an entrepreneur like this, I have to be just well in tuned with my industry, or what's the easiest way as a small-to- medium-sized business to know it's worthwhile to tie my story to that. Like you said, four to six times a year is not a lot. Pulling that trigger might not be the right time or might be applicable. Like how should they go about being in tune with national or just," Hey, this is applicable and I need to start thinking about my next time I'm going to do a release?"
Mickie Kennedy: Right. I say, if you notice a trend early, you're going to get, I think, better pickup from it. I think it's the type of thing the earlier the better. But that being said, sometimes there's things that just trend in an industry that the national media or even your local media hasn't quite covered yet. So I would give it the test of is this something that's been covered? Is it still relevant in my industry? And if it is, then I think it's quite appropriate to still do it. It's a little bit of art and trial and error and seeing what works and what doesn't. That being said, I think that there's lots of little opportunities to bring things to the forefront. If you can create an entertaining story or something that's really cool that you're doing, and if there is the ability to tie it into something else, then I think you have a better track record of getting noticed. You don't also have to always do your own survey and studies. There's a lot of data that's out there. And if you're the person that puts it together and says," Hey, over the last 18 months there's been a 62% growth in solo eCommercepreneurs," or something like that," and I'm one in your local area. I've been doing this, and this is what I'm doing right now that's pretty cool. These are the products that I carry. Here's a really great quote. I'd love to talk to you and share more with your audience." I feel like something like that is like," Wow, it's done most of the work for me. It's entertaining and interesting. Sure. I will either give him a call, explore it a little bit more, or email to get a little more details for fleshing out and seeing if there is a real story there."
Ryan Cramer: Right. I call this industry like amplified marketing, right? We're both talking on a podcast right now, but is that ever going to tie into releases and news media pickup if something gets discussed on a podcast per se, like between us industry experts, one to another, is that something that people might start to think about," Hey..." I was on a pretty predominant show. Like if you're a podcast host too, I believe, if I'm not mistaken. If I go on your show, we have the discussion on a certain topic, I can use that reference point to either distribute as like almost video distribution. Is that a thing or am I making this up and I'm way ahead of my time or way behind on my time?
Mickie Kennedy: I don't see it working very well with local media right now because a lot of local media don't know what to do with video. That being said, they're going to have to start to learn what to do with video because it's a natural progression of things. I think Facebook has said that they envision a time in the next year or two or longer that newsfeeds will be all video and very little of it being text- driven. I don't know if that'll be true or not, but I do believe that's the push and that's the natural evolution of things. I think that newspapers and local media have migrated online because they've had to, and I think that the progression to video and video content is something they're going to have to pay attention to. And then that being said, you having podcasts and you having reels of data and really useful information is an opportunity for them in which you can sort of make available a segment of your podcast and share that with their readers. Or I guess in this case, their viewers. But I don't see it right now being used very much and very well. I think that the local media has to solve the problem of how they want that to be. So many of them want to control the video content, have it hosted on their site, and it just creates a lot more problems for those reasons. But I think that that is something that in the future will be an opportunity for you if you're willing to make video content available to them, or make exclusive video content for them might be really relevant as well. I think that it is the progression, but we're not there yet.
Ryan Cramer: Got you. So definitely ahead of our time. So, all right. I'll put that on the back burner until the local media is ready for this great idea. But with that being said, you said video, a lot more people are turning to that. If I'm a small- and- medium-sized business working in a localized market and I want to start out right away, is it going to the local newspaper or like regional newspaper? Is it going to radio stations? Is it going to television? Or what medium should I be focused on first and then diversify? Or should I just shotgun to that just market?
Mickie Kennedy: I am of the approach to start with local newspapers and then just sort of roll out what seems naturally. A lot of times, people that I recommend the local approach to don't ever do radio or TV. It's just, I don't really know the segments. Maybe their market doesn't have a lot that's going on that they feel it's appropriate to. But they do really well with the local newspapers. If you have a local business magazine or business newspaper, that's another opportunity for you to get out there in front of the business community and talk about what's going on with you and specific to your industry and things like that. But I say start there and you can expand as naturally as you see. If there's two or three key industry trade publications, you can take the same approach, figure out who at those publications tend to write about companies your size and in your industry. It may be more than one person, but you could add them to your Rolodex and reach out to them and do pitches as well of what you've got going on and why you would be a good candidate for them. Now there's a lot more competition with that, so I think that you have to be a little bit better prepared when you're going after the big trade publications and things like that. But if you have something that's really compelling, a ready- made great quote, and maybe you've done a survey or study, all of those things could definitely make you rise to the top and be a great source for them to write an article about you or to include you in an article.
Ryan Cramer: Right. So taking that next steps, we're talking about localized media coverage and whatnot, and if you don't hear anything or back for example, is there a quick turnaround time typically when you hear-
Mickie Kennedy: No.
Ryan Cramer: No? I was going to say, is there a crosstalk?
Mickie Kennedy: Journalists are always putting out fires with what they're under deadline for. They're always open to new stuff, and they just create, put stuff in the maybe pile. And there's lots of maybe piles. Sometimes these maybe piles are two months, three months deep. Sometimes they're very short. It really depends on the organization and disorganization of your local journalists. They're doing a lot more now than they have in the past. A lot of news places are working very lean, and as a result, they're very busy. The more that you can do for them, like coming up with the concept, having a ready- made great quote, makes their job so much easier. So they're like," Oh, I could just quickly build an article around this." And so anything like that, taking into account what their workload is like is going to do well. That being said, should you follow up with them? How soon should you follow up with them? There's no magic answer. I think if it's been a week or two, follow up. Always follow up including what you previously sent, because it's quite likely they just hit delete before, but now you've risen to their inbox to ask about it and here's another opportunity for them to review it a second time, and maybe this time they actually will respond to it. I've seen people who just say," I sent you an email in the past. You haven't responded. Are you interested?" And they're like," I don't know who this person is. I don't know what they pitched."
Ryan Cramer: Yeah, what you talking about?
Mickie Kennedy: And now you're asking them to be investigators and to look through their email and try to find your previous email. Make their job really easy. I think it's fine if it's been a couple of weeks, you haven't heard anything, you could just quickly follow up and say," Hey, I was just following up here." If you have a little nugget to add, that's even better." I also want to let you know that we just did this and I feel like that's a great bonus to the story as well." Or" I just saw X, Y, and Z trending and I would love to provide a comment about that if you wanted to discuss that as well." And you're going to have a couple of people that just say," Leave me alone. Don't harass me. Send me your pitches and just leave me alone." You're always going to have people like that. So don't ever let something like that discourage you. I know that some PR firms like to follow up through phone calls and they usually have juniors or interns do it because they get yelled at so much because journalists do find it invasive to call them. However, you'll get a feel for the journalist. Whether they call you or how they communicate with you is probably how they want to be communicated with. So it might be useful to have someone that you feel comfortable picking up the phone and calling them and following up with a story. That being said, if you've sent the follow- up email, you still haven't heard, move on, and then the next time you have something really cool, just share it with them again. Eventually, they'll either block you or acknowledge you or write about you or continue to ignore you. But I think that that's the way in which it works. It's just one of the things that you just have to do. And I think if you have a small little Rolodex, it's pretty easy to do. And after a while, you'll get a feel for who is working for you. And I would always keep an eye on that publication and see if there's someone else there that might be a good fit as well. And if you haven't gotten anywhere with John, then you reach out to Diana or someone like that who's also covers it, and maybe you'll have more luck with her than the other journalists. So just stay on top of it and continue to do it. And I see people get pickup again and again as a result of this. They might be doing this, six pitches, which is basically six concepts, but they're only sending it to like a dozen people. And I see people routinely get three or four articles out of that. And for basically just a few emails, the same email that you're sending to people six times a year, that's pretty good. That's almost like a 50% pickup rate of six pitches, three pickups. Now, admittedly, you sent the six pitches to like as much as a dozen people, but eventually I think that those numbers should get better. You might get a second sense of what they're interested in. Sometimes even just following up after you've sent three or four or five emails over a year, and you haven't gotten anywhere and said," Hey, this is Mickie again. I know I've sent you a few pitches. They obviously didn't work for you. If you ever have a few minutes, I'd love to talk to you and maybe get your perspective on how I can develop a compelling story for you and make your job easier." And sometimes they're willing to talk and provide you some guidance of what they're looking for and what really excites them in your market. And so I would just build that rapport, build a relationship, and don't be afraid to treat them as a local potential mentor for what you should be pitching.
Ryan Cramer: That's amazing. Oh, I think those are all great, great tips. I always feel invasive when, if you reach out to people of the magnitude of you think it's applicable to a nature of," Hey, I think you should look at X, Y, Z," or" Hey, by the way, I also do this kind of thing." Because you don't want them to... You don't want it to open up to just opinionized things from the community. It's not an opinion column. You don't want people just saying like," I disagree with your stance on this, and now because of that, I have the opposite answer that what you have published," or something like that where you don't want to do it to pick fights with people. You wanted to do it to inform and to help educate the audience too. So that's why I think it's super important to try different tactics like you said. That's why I thought video might, or trending on social media. You always see these tactics of they pick up what's trending on social media either more than traditional media. And that's why it was interesting how I heard you say people don't... They consume video, but they haven't figured out how to incorporate that into the matter. So before we... We're heading into the end of this, Mickie. There's a couple of different things that I've seen on your website and there's lots of people that asked me the same question. How do you get something as predominant as a" as seen by," or" as seen on," or" featured in," like the bars on websites? I think that's so powerful. People have said it's so easy to do for businesses, and I think it brings gravitas and it brings a brand experience, or brand expertise in any sort of area like as featured in NBC News Nightly or something like that. Is there a way... I know that's not localized, or if you want to focus on local, what is the way to do that typically? Is it your right once an article gets published to do that, to post that?
Mickie Kennedy: Well, That's a gray area. Sometimes these news outlets don't like you putting their logo up. So sometimes you may get a request to remove a logo that you say. I've been told that" as seen on" is a lot safer than" as featured on." Feature might mean something more relevant to a particular media outlet and might create more issues with them with problematic. But" as seen on" is a lot safer. That being said, there are services, even when you send a release through us that goes over PR Newswire, you're going to get a report that shows your press release on a few different websites. Now don't mistake that as an article. Our goal is to get articles written about us. These things happen automatically. And some people do use those and like Yahoo is one of the outlets and there's a few others that are out there. Usually there's a Fox syndicate, an ABC syndicate. So you can put the ABC logo. It might have WKTOP or whatever the call letters are for the place or something like that. And that is something that you can add. It may boost credibility for your market. I think with B2B less so, but if you know B2C consumers, I think it is probably is something that you could do. So you could pay to issue a service through eReleases, look at where the release goes, and pick some logos, and put the" as seen on" your website or a section on your website. And the real distraction of that is it's automated and nobody made a determination and wrote an article about you. And those look pages rarely don't drive a lot of traffic. So the example of someone being published in the New York Times or the Washington Post is going to generate a lot more traffic to you. And that's another frustrating thing. A lot of these places do not put URLs in the article. So they're not linking to you. The good news is Google gives you credit is if there is a link for SEO purposes because they can contextually tell that when they mentioned eReleases in an article in the New York Times, they meant eReleases, so you'll see a bump in your SEO. That being said, there's a lot of people that do searches and they'll read about a company, they'll do a Google search, realize you're the company, and then go buy from you. But it does make it less transparent, harder to track, and all of those things that good marketers love. It's challenging.
Ryan Cramer: I was going to say, how are we tracking all this? Is there an easy way, or do you have a good-
Mickie Kennedy: There is no easy way to track this, unfortunately. It's one of those things that you just have to allocate some time and dollars to. And if you get a major article, you track your revenue, you track your inbound traffic, and you get a feel for, did we get a bump over the last couple of weeks right after this article was published? And sometimes you'll see it and it's very noticeable. Sometimes you won't. So it's just one of those things that it takes a bit of trial and error. But because it's so organic and you're looking for a article to be written, you're not paying for placement, you don't get to really call the shots of how you're necessarily listed, what page they're going to link to as well. I do find that when the media tends to cover Indiegogos and Kickstarters, they generally do include the link, which is really good, even the New York Times. But outside of that, they're a little bit less likely to. One of the ways in which I find that makes it easier for you to get a link is to include something like a resource. So if you have a really great guide, let's say you sell widgets like fidget spinners and things like that. And let's say you have a guide or just a checklist of what you should look for in a good fidget spinner, or a product in your marketplace, or" Here are the do's and don'ts of what you should be looking for." If you have a guide, a lot of times they will include a link to it. So sometimes a really good white paper or checklist or cheat sheet or something like that might get picked up. It doesn't always happen, but it does make it a little more likely that that would happen. Also a lot of those smaller papers and places like that are a little more willing to include links than the major players. And maybe that'll change a little bit, because I do see in the case of last year with the Dining Bond Initiative, almost every publication, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times did include a link, which was really great for them, and I think that it was because it was such a call to action. The whole reason for being was to help and-
Ryan Cramer: You have to donate here, yeah, exactly.
Mickie Kennedy: Right. Exactly. So those are just things to keep in mind and just realize that you're never going to get everything that you want out of a media pickup, but if you are creative and you continue to change your messaging and what is your call to action is, eventually going to find something that resonates and does really well.
Ryan Cramer: Right. I would think the holy grail would be if they put your logo somehow, some way, they put your name, and then they put a link to your business or website or service, that is probably the trifecta, if you will, of... Or even a product, even more specifically, that'd be even better. With that being said, is there, to wrap this up and then tying on the best bow we can for today, is the more likely you become feature, like if I'm getting traction and localized media again, how to make this work for more national publications? I'm assuming when I collect all these blogs or these stories and articles, curate them on a page, and say," This is past where I've been featured, in the past, our company has been contributed to X, Y, Z," is that going to be help? Is that resume like a call sheet, if you will of," Hey, we're kind of big deal" or" We're trending," like" People have featured us before?"
Mickie Kennedy: Yes. I always recommend that someone create a newsroom or in the news or something like that. Put your press releases there because it's all keyword rich traffic that will come from that. And because you're the author of it, you should get priority as far as your press releases appearing and stuff like that. Also include those pickups that you do get. And I always tell people, be sure to take screenshots or PDFs of your mentioned, because eventually these things either disappear or they go behind a firewall and you can't link to them anymore. So always preserve them. I have one client who put all of his clippings in a big brag book is what they call it. And it was a carpet company in New Jersey. And we did five months of no press releases working, five releases. And on the sixth one, we explored an industry blind spot. He said," No one in the carpet industry talks about marketing, but it's the most frustrating and most necessary part of our job. And we have to market against the big box home improvement stores, and it's so frustrating. And this is why." So we wrote a press release about that and he got picked up in more floor trade publications that we knew existed at the time. And we continued to explore that blind spot for the next six months, and all together got like 30 clips. We did get their local newspaper to pick them up. And we got a New Jersey magazine to pick them up as well. And so they have like 30 some clips of them in nationwide publications. And one of the things I pointed out was these carpet trade publications, they're not your consumers. And I don't know how this helps you. And they said," Well, that's interesting. Let me tell you how it's been helping us. We've put this book together. We go give a quote to people in their home. We tell them the same thing we've always told them, that our installers are salaried. They know what they're doing. We never have to restretch the carpets, and all this stuff." He said," But because of that book and walking them through a few of the samples," he goes," we started converting 20% more customers." And that was big for them to close 20% more sales just by using that big brag book. And so it worked really well for them. And that's what you can create on your website, where you list all the places you've been profiled. You take those times that you get mentioned, share them on your Instagram, share them on your social media, let your customers and your leads know about these places, because there's an implied endorsement that happens when a publication writes about you, and that's a real big kudo for you. And I think that that makes it easier for leads or people that are on the fence to say," Oh yeah, I think I will do business with this company." So there's lots of opportunities to leverage the PR that you get and the notice that you get.
Ryan Cramer: Unlike it, yeah, unlike vanity metrics. And what I mean by that is like a thumbs up or a heart or whatever on social media. This actually applies differently that it brings more gravitas to... people have brought... You have not arrived, but you are seen as an authority in that regards. Like thumbs ups are just passive. Like," Hey, that's cool." Or" I think that's interesting." But this is like more of that, like you said, nuanced. And I see more publications, or I've seen more... The algorithms for social media or wherever you're sharing this on, on websites or your network or your clients, they pick this up more because it is that next step of people have recognized your authority. Does that make sense? I think that's really neat. Is there one that still gives you, maybe because you've been with the business for so long, is there one publication or publications that you get giddy about every time something comes out in it? Is there one that you respect so much or that you haven't achieved yet, and it's like," That is my holy grail and I will not rest until I find or am crosstalk?"
Mickie Kennedy: I'm a sucker for the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. I feel like when you get an article in either of those, that is big. Washington Post is almost right there, but those are the ones that really excite me. If you're within certain types of industries like startups and things like that, Fast Company and Inc. magazine's like," Oh, perfect." That's really a great pickup. But I think it varies. For some of my clients that are very B2B within industries, it's these little crazy trade publications you've never heard of. But for them, it's like," This is our big trade publication and I can't believe that we got an article here."
Ryan Cramer: You have to be here.
Mickie Kennedy: So I just celebrate the wins that all of my clients get and recognize the ones that continue to try, and do trial and error, and try to build more strategic releases are the ones that are just winning and doing well.
Ryan Cramer: Before we cap off, what's the most I would say out- there publication that you've had clients featured in that you were either surprised existed or just shocked you in a certain way?
Mickie Kennedy: Let's see. That one's going to be a hard one, but we had someone years ago get picked up in Playboy. And I was like," Oh, I didn't realize they did articles."
Ryan Cramer: You get Playboy to read the articles.
Mickie Kennedy: I didn't realize they were doing articles. I always knew that people say," Oh, I read it for the articles," and it's like," Well, I didn't even know there were articles in it."
Ryan Cramer: That's the thing.
Mickie Kennedy: So that was surprising. It was a men's product and it got picked up there. And they were ecstatic because it turns out that the people who subscribe to Playboy are buyers. There are certain publications where when you get picked up, you get buyers. Women's magazines, when you get your product mentioned, or even a little profile on a page where they talk about" What's trending now, and here's a lipstick, and here's a lip gloss, and here's this." If you get this tiny little blurb here and you sell a cosmetic, it could be$ 100, 000 in sales that that little page in a women's magazine creates. So it is surprising what can work and what can fuel a success. I've also seen... We had one customer who did a book and it was self published, but he got the front page section of the USA Today, the entertainment section. Front page story. It was on the lower half. It was the whole half of the page. And he said he thinks he sold less than a hundred books. And I was just really shocked. And I was like," Well, USA Today is probably not known for their readers then." But he leveraged that because he took a screenshot of it and he was trying to do a tour, a book tour, book readings, and even his local bookshop wouldn't do a book reading for him. So I told him," Send that clip to them and they'll let you." And he said," It worked." He goes," As soon as they saw that I was in USA Today, they said,'Okay, you can come and do a book reading here.'" And I told him I'd never heard of someone not doing a book reading, and because if you're willing to go to a bookstore and try to fill it on a night that's not busy, most bookstores are open to that. It's the rare one that would say no to someone. But in his case, he had to circle back, but he did get mentioned there. And he loved being in the USA Today, but it just didn't result in a lot of sales. So some publications are buyers and some aren't. And I think USA Today might be buyers of consumer products but probably not books as much.
Ryan Cramer: We'll let the audience or listener guess what that means or where we're drawing that conclusion in that regards. But Mickie, I know we're already at the top of our hour. You have so much expertise and so much great thought in the space, I want to make people, if I'm listening to this and I'm want to either work with you or just pick your brain, how do we connect with you? How do we find you? Is it on social media or do we... We have our website. I know we have linked to it in the show notes.
Mickie Kennedy: My website's ereleases. com. Feel free to call or chat. You'll only speak to editors, no salespeople, no commissions. We'll review a press release for you for free. Just give us a day or two to turn it around and get back to you. We're there to help people. We work with a lot of people. It's their first release. So all my social media is on the lower right of the page. It's my direct LinkedIn, which is also just publicity is my LinkedIn user account. And I have a strategy course for anybody who's looking to do PR. If you want to build a campaign of strategic press releases, this class is for you. It's less than an hour. It's completely free. I'm trying to get my own customers to take the class so that they'll learn and do more strategic press releases and get more successful PR as a result of it. But it's available ereleases. com/ plan, P- L- A- N. Again, it's completely free. If you review that with the lens of your business and what you could be doing, the strategic, you will have several ideas for building a PR campaign of different strategic ideas all designed to get media pickup, and avoid the people who do a press release or two and they don't really know what they're doing strategically, and as a result, they don't get a lot of media pickup as a result.
Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. And I've looked through it too, and I'm just really intrigued to go through that workshop in my own mind and try to get better in that regard. So I'm really excited. I put it in the comment section too. It's plain but this is what Google kickbacked me, is plain English too, but it's planned. For those of you who are listening to that, we'll make sure it's in the show notes on the audio version as well. But Mickie, thank you so much obviously for hopping on today, sharing your wisdom and insights. As the industry evolves, before you cap off, do you have any sort of like," I see it going in this direction," what people are may not talking about?
Mickie Kennedy: I think that at the end of the day, it's all about trying to come up with something that's interesting and compelling for an audience. And I think the journalist should be viewed more as curators, and what could you do to look like more of something that needs to be discovered and shared? And so if you can just sort of look at it through that lens, I think that you'll come up with ideas that are a little more interesting and intriguing, and not ideas that only serve you, but also serve the journalist and give delivering really good content that they want to share with their audience.
Ryan Cramer: Excellent. Well, thank you so much, sir. I know you're probably buzzing and have to go soon, so I appreciate your time and thanks so much for hopping on Crossover Commerce today. Thank you.
Mickie Kennedy: Thank you.
Ryan Cramer: Awesome. And then thank you for everyone else who is watching and listening to Crossover commerce. Again, happy Friday. This is day five of five of this week of content that we got to push out there today. This was finding localized media and without spending a dime and getting your business out there. So many different takeaways, and hopefully you listened to it all, but we'll break it down in the audio version as well in top takeaways to make sure that you can apply these to your businesses and principles. And make sure you check out Mickie and his team at ereleases. com. Again, helping you get your business and brand out there. It could be as easy as one press release that takes your business to a whole new level, or it just might take a little bit of coaxing and getting that, fitting that, or finding your unique position in the space, which is why we're all entrepreneurs in the space in general. So that being said, have a good weekend everyone. We'll catch you next week on Crossover Commerce. Make sure you stay safe and subscribe to our channels on all of your social media platforms, but also on your audio channels. Take care, everyone.
Ryan Cramer of Crossover Commerce talks with Mickie Kennedy of eReleases about how to get regular local media coverage without spending a dime.
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