The Secret Formula for Generating Crazy Amounts of PR, from the Founder of TerraCycle
Tom Szaky’s most recent Eco Capitalist column at Inc.com is certainly worth a read. However, here’s the thing: If you give the story just a quick glance, it won’t necessarily seem all that earth-shattering. But if you actually read it closely — and I say this with the assumption that you already understand the basics of PR — you’ll very likely recognize just how valuable and all-encompassing these tips are. After all, entire books have been based around the same suggestions Szaky is outlining here. (And again, if you’re a PR newbie, you’d be wise to read a few first. Scroll down for a brief list of my favorites.) But if you’re a self-employed person who has pitched stories to journalists in the past, here’s what I’d recommend doing: Print a hardcopy of Szaky’s column, and then tape on the wall next to your desk. As long as you’re just using it as a basic reminder, it’s really all you need to know in order to generate story after story for yourself and your business.
And by the way, as a journalist myself, and as someone who previously worked at a daily newspaper that quite often printed press releases verbatim, I can tell you from actual experience that tip number two is golden. (“Many journalists are overworked, and if you can give them a pre-packaged story, you’re golden.) However, I can also tell you that anyone without a writing or journalism background is going to have a tough time understanding exactly what that means, so allow me to give a simple suggestion:
Let’s say your art-rock band has just released a new album. Do not write a press release that attempts to convince anyone how hard you rock, or how unusual your sound is. That’s boring. What you need is a story, and it doesn’t necessarily need to have anything to do with your music. What you’re looking for instead is anything unexpected or surprising about your band, or about any of its members. For instance, do you remember all those stories that surfaced about Pavement, because they had supposedly brought on a new drummer who was an old homeless guy? I have no idea if that was actually true, but what a great gimmick! It makes for a fun story, both for the person writing it as well as for the person reading it.
Your own gimmick, of course, doesn’t have to be anything so extreme as a homeless drummer. But keep in mind that your band’s bio should be interesting enough that even people who don’t like your music — hell, even people who don’t like music at all — will still be captivated enough to read about you. This rule applies to just about any creative business, by the way. So get your story together, and let me know what happens.
Great Books for DIY Publicists
Startup Guide to Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson
The Guerrilla Entrepreneur by Jay Conrad Levinson
Can We Do That?! by Peter Shankman
PR on a Budget by Leonard Saffir
PR Idea Book: 50 Proven Tools that Really Work by Jeff Winke
Full Frontal PR by Richard Laemer