The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 1 year ago

Use PR To Build Credibility & Boost Sales w/Mickie Kennedy


So your lead generation channels have reached a plateau and your sales operation is stuck in second gear. There’s enough happening to get by but that electrifying atmosphere is waning. You’re wondering whether PR will help kick things up a notch but the PR climate is evolving as fast as business tech. Where do you start?

Mickie Kennedy, Founder & CEO of eReleases, a leader in affordable press release writing and distribution, provides the answer.

What we talked about:

  • PR strategy must-haves
  • Stay ahead: 3 tips for a strong PR game
  • Profitable PR in action

Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:

For the entire interview, you can listen to The B2B Revenue Executive Experience.

If you don’t use Apple Podcasts, we suggest this link.

You're listening to the BDB revenue executive experience, a podcast dedicated to helping executives train their sales and marketing teams to optimize growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's accelerate your growth in three, two, one. Welcome everyone to the BB revenue executive experience. I'm your host, Chad Sanderson. Today we're talking about how you can build your credibility through public relations and drive more sales, both online and offline. This is often a challenge for not only marketing teams but sales organizations in general. To help us with talk about this topic, we have with as Mickey Kennedy, CEO of e releases, a leader in affordable press release writing and distribution. Mickey, thank you for taking time and welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. All right, before we jump into the topic of the day, we like start with a question to kind of provide an insight into you for our audience. I'm always curious to find out something you're passionate about that those that may only know you from the work world might be surprised to learn about. I guess that I'm a poet. I have a background in creative writing and have been writing poetry off and on for thirty plush years. Wow is just go to Emmett, go all the way through to MFA. When I did, I got an MFA and creative writing with emphasis and poetry at George Mason University. Oh Nice, excellence. Under understand that. Pashi, my Undergrad was in English and did a lot of writing as well. Never did go to MFA. Made the mistake it going the NBA route. But here we are so curious to know. Is it the writing background that got you into the interest in media coverage and press releases? And thing is it is I had assumed that I would wait tables being a major, and I did that while in Grad school and it quickly became obvious that waiting tables is way harder than I assumed it would be. It was very physically taxing and I was a guy at the time that, you know, routinely ran five or six miles three times a week and I just found it excruciating on my legs and my back and my hip just being, you know, on my feet forty to sixty hours a week. So I quickly transition to a desk job and I got a job at a telecom start up in Washington DC and I was employee number three and among the many things I did, I focused on sales, but I also was in charge of writing press releases and getting them out to the media, and at that time that required faxing, and you know anybody who's had two facts. It's it's slow, tedious and you have the program these numbers into a machine and our machine only held a hundred numbers. So I'd enter a hundred I'd hits and it would take all day to send and then the next day I'd have to delete those numbers and put eighty or ninety more end because we had additional journalists we needed to reach. So I started to get journalists asking if I could just email the release, because we worked with a lot of telecom statistics and numbers and they just found it easier to cut and pace from a word document. So that's when the light bulb went off and I was like email is the future of this. So I spent about a year reaching out to journalists and asking them if I could just email them relevant press releases, and most of them said yes, and that's sort of how e releases began. Wow, and so many when we say the term press release, this is it's a term that, you know, vast majority people are going to be familiar with and many, I think, probably don't understand how they get read, let alone how they get created anymore, or what role they play in kind of that whole media coverage feeling, that media coverage. So I'm curious if you can kind of help the audience understand. How does it what part does the press release play and creating or starting to create those ripples, so to speak. It's sort of like a fodder for what could be an article, and so you know, press releases are generally written in the third person. They might have first person quotes. You're trying to really position your most...

...newsworthy thing that you're trying to announce and you're hoping that the media will turn it into an article. You're not looking for them to copy and paste the exact press release on their website. You know real media organizations rarely do that. They would be them writing a story based off of the facts that you provided to them. It's not very complicated, it's not very sexy, but it is one of the main ways in which journalists build stories. I know that a lot of people are familiar with help reporter out and for big feature stories that's great, but the average journalists can't create, go through the trouble of creating and in sifting through all of these people trying to pitch for a particular story. You know, many of them are doing three to five articles a day, some less, some more, and they're just constantly looking for another great idea, a good thing that they can sort of curate and discover and bring to their readers or their audience and hopefully they'll find it intriguing. And when we start thinking about what it takes to be successful with that portion of the strategy, that the press release being kind of the starting point, what sets them apart? What makes one better than another, more effective than another? Right? I think that you have to sort of look at the press release through the Lens of the journalist and he's acting as a gatekeeper for his audience and a lot of people send press releases that are really just promotional only, without a high caliber of newsworthiness or anything that's really intriguing, and that makes it very difficult for a journalist to find a story there. So try to approach it as what could I say that an audience, a potential audience, would find really of interest? What could I say and how could I say it to make it really compelling for them? That sort of changes the type of quotes you might have in a press release. Rather than a safe, mediocre quote, you might really grab someone and say something, if not controversial, maybe a bit contrarian, something along those lines the actual news that you're issuing. Is there something else that you could say that would be more newsworthy? One of the things that I should just to a lot of my clients is if you don't fill your news worthy, make the news, and by that I mean come up with a survey or study. In your industry, anybody can release a survey or study and generally if you ask good, thoughtful questions, as well as maybe a couple oddball questions, you stand a really good likelihood that several people are going to pick you up. I have customers who won. Was a local auto repair shop in Pennsylvania just looking to get links from auto industry traits because their their website used to be the free one provided by the yellow pages and when that went away, so did their website. So they had a new website, they didn't have any links to it and they weren't ranking. And so they had been told by a really good seo guy that if they could get links from the auto industry trade publications they would rank very quickly. And so I told them to reach out to a trade association to send the survey because they didn't know how to, you know, get other auto repair shops to fill out the survey. And The Independent Auto Repair Trade Association was very willing to do it because they see it as a win win. The smaller and independent trade associations generally don't get a lot of love or visibility. So here was someone saying I want to do this survey. Could you send it to your members and I'll promote you in the press release that I'll be issuing. So it was sort of a win win and I think that they got between eight and twelve auto trade publications. Several newspapers picked it up, even their local newspaper, which wasn't really intentional from the beginning, but it was really great that it happened. And what got picked up by most publications was this one left field question that I suggested was what's the strangest thing a customer has left in their car while being repaired? And it was just an open field where people would just enter stuff and you know, there was a boa constrictor there was someone. There was someone who said that they left their grandma and they're like, they're like the... been here for three days and they're like, we don't see a person and they're like no, she's in an urn in the back and her memorials this evening. So we got to get her and so there are fun stories and and you know a lot of people really resonated with those and it made for good fodder. Some places only listed like the top ten, some listed like twenty. All together, I think there was just over fifty of those strange little corky questions that they curated when they published their survey results. But that's something anyone can do and it wasn't a huge amount of effort. It was, you know, just using a link from survey monkey and getting someone to send it out to their members and I think that they got over eight hundred auto repair shops that completed the survey. So it was really good and that's something anyone can do with an any industry. You know, this local auto repair shop is not an authority in the automotive industry, but they were able to get a lot of mileage and a lot of success out of just by being the author of that survey. Wow. And so there's things like that that kind of go viral or they tip into something that that has a connection with people, especially with what we've been through over the last year and a half with the pandemic stuff. Have you seen a change in the types of approaches to this communication channel that is more effective than, say, you know previously, maybe ray need for human connection, or any changes and kind of what you're seeing resume? Yeah, I think that things that address people working remotely they do really well. Positive News where you're making a difference and being a positive influence has done really well over the past year, mainly because there was so much negative news coming out that the journalists were really receptive to something that sort of gave another perspective, like here's some good news. And so we did a release for the dining bond initiative last year. It was sort of mirrored on the war bond initiative and it was a way in which you could support your local restaurants which were closed down, by buying what they called a dining bond. It's sort of like a gift certificate for a discount and the money would immediately go to your local restaurant and and it blew up. It was one release. We quick counting after like a hundred and fifty places picked it up. Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, all the major papers and minor papers picked it up. It went viral international. They started spreading it out to other countries and, you know, for a very short lived effort, it generated millions of dollars in revenues that went to local restaurants and helped people and it was something that for just two to four hundred dollars you got millions of dollars in return. I don't care how great of a advertising person you are, you're never going to create a Google ad campaign for four hundred dollars and create tens of millions of dollars in revenue. But that is the potential that could happen with the media and PR and so what percentage? You know, there's a lot of it's so much data out there today. So many people trying to have a voice. What percentage of the press releases that you see or encounter our successful versus those that aren't? I would say that probably ninety five percent of the press releases that I issue, nothing meaningful happens, and by that I mean no articles get written about them. There's syndication where that automatically happens with every press release, for the press release gets replicated on a few websites. It looks good, but they generally don't have meaningful traffic. It's not a destination that a lot of people find it. What you're really looking for is to have, you know, say the New York Times, to actually write an article about you, and that's harder to do and it's harder to achieve the success. And the big reason, I think, is because so many of the press releases that we're seeing are just typical milestone releases, like a new director of HR and it's not someone that's, like, you know, really well known in the industry or really great. Probably a great employee, but the newsworthiness of...

...that announcement, it probably doesn't go outside of maybe one trade publication and maybe your local newspaper. So you're better to just send it to the both of you know those two places yourself. Then use a service like mine, and a lot of releases come out of this. They have the feeling that they were just written through committee. Everything's safe, the quotes are bland, they're not interesting or intriguing and it's hard for a journalist to see anything meaningful or newsworthy there. It's quite obvious at what you're announcing is important to you, but how is it important to a potential reader or viewer in the case of other types of content? And that's what's missing with so many press releases. Love it. And so, when you think about making this a reality, how should people incorporate into their their strategy? You know, what does it look like when I start to think about press release versus other things that I might do? You know, my own thought leadership, blog, white papers. How do I think about it in that tapestry of communication? What kind of role should a player how much focus do you think it should have on it? For companies to be as successful as possible, I think that you should definitely have a PR strategy in place, one that takes into account things that work. I recently created a free master class for my customers, because so many of the releases I get are just safe and bland. And I have over four thousand active customers. I've only gotten less than a hundred and fifty two just watch this free you know, masterclasses less than an hour long, and I know that if I was to get more of them to watch it and view it and just incorporate the ideas that are there, they would be hugely successful and it's just frustrating to see that and I'm not sure what the disconnect is. I think that maybe a lot of people have the role of PR but they don't have the passion and they don't necessarily have the need to have the Roi and metrics that would necessitate being so strategic. And you know, that's the only thing I can come up with. I keep pitching it and sending it out there and telling people to take advantage of it, mostly because I want more people to succeed than are currently succeeding with me, you know. But that being said, I have one client that does forty to sixty releases a year. Every one of them is about a different survey or study that they do. They cover many different industries in their field, so they just roll with one survey and study after another and they get on average between eight and sixteen articles in, you know, unique original articles written about every press release they do. So let's just creating hundreds and hundreds of links to their website and to all the verticals sections of their website that they've created over the years. And so you know, they're killing it and a lot of other people could be killing it too, but I think that some people just are so used to safe and easy ways of operating that they're not willing or accepting of going outside their comfort zone and I kind of think you do have to push yourself and put that creative het on and think of things in a in a way that's like, okay, if everybody in my industry is saying x, how can I say just the opposite or be contrarian in an intelligent, meaningful way? And what everybody else is zigging? Adding your voice as the guy who zags gets you a lot of mileage. And the potential is every article that mentions that you could be the counter argument, because you know, journalists want to be objective and they want to have both sides, but so many articles are just one sided because no one's out there willing to give a perspective on the opposite side. I love it. And so if you think about I know you give us automotive example. Can Give us another example of one of your clients has been really successful, maybe with the contrarian approach or or the it doesn't have to be contraying, but something that...

...sparked the conversation or debate and kind of where that looks like. So I had a local carpet company from New Jersey reach out to me years ago and said we have a pre budget, we want to do one press release a month and I flat out told them, after talking with them and running through my typical questions, that I didn't think that PR was going to be effective for them. And they said, well, we've got the budget, it's already been earmarked. We can spend it with you or can spend it with someone else. So I took their money and after five months nothing happened, and so I went back and said we need to have another brainstorming session to figure something out. And I said you know, what is it that they don't talk about in your industry? And they said marketing. They said we are so alone with that and our biggest enemy is the big box home improvement stores and it's just terrible how you have to figure out how to market against them and you know, build your compelling argument. You know they the Home Depot and lows use pickup contractors, people that are here today and gone tomorrow. They don't know who's coming into your house. It's just bid to the lowest person. And the padding that the the big box home improvement stores, I'm told by my client, are inferior to what the local carpet companies generally recommend and install. So we did a press release that talked about that and it got picked up in more than ten floor trade publications and it became very obvious that we had touched on a blind spot in the end of tree and the industry was very receptive to it. They wanted to talk about marketing. All these trade publications are the subscribers are other local carpet companies and they're all in the same boat and they're all looking for tips and resources in the best practices, and so it did really well. We continue to do several releases on marketing going forward and I think within a year we had over thirty clips from trade publications and their local newspaper and the local State magazine and at I pointed out this is great, but I don't know that that helps you, because these flour trade publications aren't your customers. And they said, Mickey, we're killing it. He says we built this like a photo album where they put all the clips and when they go get someone a quote in their home, they open it up and say here, we've been picked up by floor trade weekly, we've been picked up by this floor coverings today. All of these places, national publications, have recognized us, this local carpet company, as being really great and what we're saying is very meaningful. And then they would say the same thing they've always said. We may not come in as the cheapest, but we provide superior padding and the installers that work for us or salaried, they earn benefits. We know who's installing your flooring today and in six months you won't need someone to come in and restretch your carpet. We install properly at the beginning. And they said that they started converting about twenty percent more customers. They said that they'd always said that, but coming after the credibility of looking through these clippings with the customer. The customer believed them and it made a more meaningful, I guess, impression with them and so they were able to convert higher. So they definitely did their homework and they did very well, and so that's the type of thing that you can do. I mean, I've had that work successifully and I've also had it not work successfully. When you try to analyze a blind spot the industry. We had one client that does technology security and they pointed out some vulnerabilities and we found out that the industry doesn't want to talk about those vulnerabilities while they're there and they can't be addressed because of some open protocols that, you know, no one's figured out how to solve yet, they don't want to bring attention to it. But I've had other clients where we do find these blind spots and once we find them, you can continue to use them again and again. With that client, we use marketing as an approach for over a year and continue to get clips, not as many as the first time, but we you know, like I said, they built over thirty to forty clips in a matter of a year or two. And what do you see? Kind of on the horizon do you see changes? For, you know, with everything that's that's happened, there's a lot of s seismic shifts and...

...a lot of industries. I'm curious if you see, you know, on the horizon some changes that may impact the way people need to think about, or create or issue press releases? I think that the industry was very resistant to bloggers fifteen years ago. Like the we work through PR newswire and they did not want bloggers to get access to the press releases and have the journalist log in credentials with the newswire. But slowly over time they recognize that an influential blogger can be just as influential as a trade publication and they've begun to be much more accepting of all different types of influencers. There are instagram influencers who are more influential online and instagram then, say, a fashion trade publication, and so they're getting access to the log in, they're able to see content and even more important, when you get that journalist log in, you're able to really sculpt and shape what type of releases you see. So you might have a fashion feed but you may want to put a bunch of words to exclude, so anytime those words appear you don't see those releases and maybe there's ones that you definitely want to have, so you put inclusion words and stuff like that, so you can really tailor it to really get relevant content for you as a journalist or an influencer and get that material. The other change that I think that's coming is the transition to video. I mean I think facebook is said that the next year to they expect that most of their news feeds will be video and, you know, less text and less links to web pages and things like that. So I think that's got to be something that's going to be shaping the future of news and what we do with press releases. I think that maybe the press releases self may not change, but maybe they'll be some video content that could be selected out and incorporated in the stories and things like that. So I think it's going to get a little more the opportunities will expand in the future and it just makes it, you know, more interesting because you know, if you're willing to adapt and make those changes, then you can you know, be the first to have the video ready press release. When that happens, excellent all right, so let's change direction here a little bit. We ask all of our guests two standard questions towards the end of each inny. The first is simply, as CEO, that makes you a prospect for a lot of people out there that are trying to sell stuff, and I'm always curious to know when somebody doesn't have a trusted referral into you, what works best for you when somebody trying to capture your attention and earn the right to time on your calendar. It's difficult. I think that for me, just a personalized email works well. Sometimes linked in works well. I see linkedin done poorly by so many people, but then sometimes people get it right and it's obvious they've done some homework looking at your profile, and that always impresses me, and so I'm more receptive when that happens. Same thing with email. If there's something you know meaningful that they've analyzed about my website or about me, this shows that they've synthesized or analyze the situation a little bit and so it's not just a general cut and paste response or request. Okay, and last question. We call it our acceleration insight. There's one thing you could tell sales, marketing or professional services people, one piece of advice that you could give them that you believe would help them hit or exceed their goals. What would it be? M Why? I would say to measure everything, not just your ads. I am a sucker for Split testing and I split test so many things in my business outside of ads. I split tested what my customers receive in the mail from me as a welcome to the ear LIASA's family, and I got really surprising results with that. I've split test so many different little aspects, even just regular web pages on my website. I'm often split testing them against a slight variant or a slight change, and so there's lots of things that... could be doing in your business where you could be, you know, split testing different collateral, different web pages. I feel like that's an important aspect and I've made a lot of assumptions over the years and sometimes when you test them, you realize that your assumption doesn't hold water. Da Data is our best friend. All right, make if a listeners interested in talking more about some of these topics are learning more about your services. where, ideally, would you love us to send them? He RELEASESCOM is my website. All my social media is on the lower right there. Like I said, I generally respond and Linkedin so that my direct linkedin is there as well. If you do have questions about press releases our website we have a chat we have a phone number. We have no sales people, it's just editors. They can talk to you analyze the situation. There's no quota or anything like that. So if we feel we're a good fit, will tell you, just like I told that carpet company. I didn't think their odds were very good the beginning, but we together we were able to work and find something that that was successful. I have that free masterclass I wanted to mention on PR strategy. It's less than an hour. It's at e releasescom forward, slash, plan, PLA and and anybody that takes that is going to have a huge education and they can easily build a winning pr campaign just by following those lessons there. And that's the most important thing with PR is to really try to work up angles that are newsworthy and stand the test of getting picked up by the media. Awesome, I love it. Thank you very much. We can't thank you enough. For being on the show today. It's been an amazing conversation. My pleasure. All right, everybody that does it, you know the drill. CHECK US out a be to be read exactcom share with friends, family, Co workers. Until next time. We value selling associates, with you all nothing but the greatest success. You've been listening to the BB revenue executive experience. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show and Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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