PR, From a Journalist’s Perspective

Today’s post is unrelated to much, except that I was just on a panel at the “Rock The World” conference sponsored by Savor the Success and thought I’d write about it. I spoke to a New York meeting of this group of women entrepreneurs last August about 168 Hours, and it was great to see familiar faces again.

The topic of the panel was what business owners should know about PR and pitching journalists. The funny part is that many of us journalists who are also book authors have had the experience of being on the other side of that transaction. The key thing for all of us to remember is that your product (or book) is not a story in and of itself. What is a story?

1. Trends. Oh yes, three things make a trend. So good pitches show how a certain trend is affecting multiple businesses (or people), not just the one in question. I’ve written in the past about the Austin Craft Mafia (whose blog no longer seems to be active), partly because it was a trend in and of itself — several small creative businesses banding together for PR and other purposes.

2. Numbers. There are a lot of bad numbers out there, but we still write about them — think the National Sleep Foundation’s annual reports on our alleged sleep deprivation, or the Salary.com figure on what a mom’s services could garner in the market. The American Express Small Business Monitor always produces good pieces because they’ve been tracking business statistics over time and can pick up on changes.

3. “Real People” stories. Broader trends — homemakers going back to work, singles over 40 hiring dating coaches, businesses laying people off (sadly) — can all be illustrated by stories. This is an under-recognized opportunity in PR. The problem is that we may not necessarily mention your company as an integral part of the story, though it’s still worth a shot.

4. Expert quotes. For some reason, having written a book makes one an expert on a topic. I like this, given my line of work. I’m about to become an expert on money! But whatever you’re pitching, it’s worth thinking about what broader topic you can educate my readers on, beyond just what you’re selling.

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