Making the most of your time
Founder & CEO, PR Expert
Good messaging is taking what you already say about your company and making it more sticky.
Give your PR person the keys to your kingdom. You might not know where the best stories are.
An entrepreneur’s personal brand is everything. Be interesting without being combative.
Lesson: Early Stage PR with Julie Crabill
Step #4 Building: Making the most of your time
So the process works in different ways for different types of hire. So if you're hiring a consultant and they have a very small handful of hours to work for you, then really you should come in with everything. You should have the plan of attack. You should know what you want to get done and, if their job is to just do media relations on your behalf, the more you can do for them, the better. If you have that media list of the people you want to talk to and you can explain why you want to talk to them, why you think they're a fit, then they can spend less time building those materials and more time actually executing on your behalf.
If, on the other hand, you're hiring a consultant who's going to help you build your strategy, and your broad vision, and your long term plan, and your messaging, then you can go in with a lot less because that person's job is to take the time, at a more expensive rate to you, but to take the time to really build those foundational elements. Then you're going to do the sort of tactical executions, someone on your team is, or you're going to hire that additional person later to do it.
If you're working with a boutique firm or a larger firm, I think that there are more similarities in the process, in terms of how the process begins, and that's coming in and having that initial meeting where you really give them the keys to the kingdom. You open everything up. You tell them details of what keeps you up at night, what are you afraid of with your business, what isn't working as well with your products as you hope it will work in the future. What are you going to do to fix that? How long is that going to take you? What does you real product cycle look like? Are you coming out with new stories and new product updates every two weeks? Is it every two months?
What other stuff do you have in your treasure trove that could be used? Do you have really interesting sets of data that you can release monthly? Do you have great advisors that can be tapped to either speak on your behalf or write articles? Are you really passionate about a topic and you would love personally to write a series of articles or start a blog where you'll go and do that? Are you somebody who doesn't like to interact with people, you're afraid of being on TV? I need to know that. I really like talking to people one on one, but I'm not great at a happy hour, trying to track someone down and talk to them. Or are you the opposite and you have somebody on your team, or you personally as the entrepreneur, who's like, "I can work a room, man. Get me out there. What party should I be at? Who should I be talking to? I'm great at that kind of stuff."
And more of the baselines of how do you like to be communicated with? If it's urgent, how should I contact you? Who is sort of your right-hand person that, even if they're not necessarily your assistant or your admin, they can reach you? If I can't find you myself, who should I call that will track you down if the world is on fire and it's a great opportunity? And then, after that initial meeting, it's almost like you're bringing in that person into the fold to work on your team. Even if they're an external party, you have to give them that access. Then it becomes, “What is your overall plan? Who do we want to talk to? When?” And that should be the other side of the table, the P.R. side of the table, giving you that advice.
And then it's the messaging and making sure that we know how are you talking about your company naturally. And the purpose of messaging is not for us to write up some talking points that you're going to have to say that are completely unnatural to you. It's more of what do you already say about your company, your vision, your mission, why you're doing what you're doing, why you've left a cush, great job at another company to cash it all in and hope for the best with this thing you want to create. And we take sort of your natural statements and we hope you hone them in a way that they'll be more sticky, they'll get through. Like a game of telephone, what's going to make it all the way through to the other end and get written in that article? And that's sort of the job of those messaging sessions.
That's probably what makes P.R. such a powerful tool is that, in many ways, everyone matters, right? So you have to figure out who actually should matter to you. That's why I called the company Inner Circle Labs. Instead of trying to figure out how to reach everyone, you have to figure out who the real inner circle is for you. Reach them so that they can do the next level of work because they want to, not because you're paying them to. So I think, for your business, certainly media is going to matter; certainly, your investors; certainly, the people who work on your team. Those are obvious choices, right? All of those people are going to matter and they probably have to matter more than anyone else.
Then, I think, it has to be your customers, and your ability to deliver what they're looking for. And then that next layer beyond customers, of people who either haven't bought yet or are influencing future customers and maybe will never be your customer, but they're very influential in that market you're trying to address.
An entrepreneur’s personal brand matters immensely. I think that gone are the days where Coca-Cola is the brand. Now people want to know who's behind it. Especially as it results in good media attention, right? So having a great company without really cohesive founder stories and entrepreneur stories doesn't work. I worked for a company, who shall remain nameless, who had multiple co-founders, and they were often at each other’s throats, and they would be in meetings, in fact, they were in a meeting with the New York Times, and sort of giving each other grief.
And I remember sitting them down after the meeting and saying, "Guys, that's not going to fly because the story that you're going to get written about you is going to be Founder A and Founder B, there's a rift between these two guys and the company's going to fall apart because of it." Whether that's true or not, it's dramatic and its interesting so that’s the kind of thing a reporter will walk away with. So I think that your personal brand and your ability to be interesting matter a lot.
And finding a way to be interesting without being combative is important too. You can be interesting, say interesting things, be a great quotable resource, not be the person who walks into a room and wants to make the conversation all about you, and have people really want to talk to you because you become magnetic because of that, and not be a jerk about it.