The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 6 months 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 executiveexperience, a podcast dedicated to helping executives train their sales and marketing teams tooptimize 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 throughpublic relations and drive more sales, both online and offline. This is oftena challenge for not only marketing teams but sales organizations in general. To helpus with talk about this topic, we have with as Mickey Kennedy, CEOof e releases, a leader in affordable press release writing and distribution. Mickey, thank you for taking time and welcome to the show. Thanks for havingme. 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 forour audience. I'm always curious to find out something you're passionate about that thosethat 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 writingand have been writing poetry off and on for thirty plush years. Wow isjust go to Emmett, go all the way through to MFA. When Idid, I got an MFA and creative writing with emphasis and poetry at GeorgeMason University. Oh Nice, excellence. Under understand that. Pashi, myUndergrad was in English and did a lot of writing as well. Never didgo to MFA. Made the mistake it going the NBA route. But herewe are so curious to know. Is it the writing background that got youinto the interest in media coverage and press releases? And thing is it isI had assumed that I would wait tables being a major, and I didthat while in Grad school and it quickly became obvious that waiting tables is wayharder than I assumed it would be. It was very physically taxing and Iwas a guy at the time that, you know, routinely ran five orsix miles three times a week and I just found it excruciating on my legsand my back and my hip just being, you know, on my feet fortyto sixty hours a week. So I quickly transition to a desk joband I got a job at a telecom start up in Washington DC and Iwas employee number three and among the many things I did, I focused onsales, but I also was in charge of writing press releases and getting themout to the media, and at that time that required faxing, and youknow anybody who's had two facts. It's it's slow, tedious and you havethe 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 tosend and then the next day I'd have to delete those numbers and put eightyor ninety more end because we had additional journalists we needed to reach. SoI started to get journalists asking if I could just email the release, becausewe worked with a lot of telecom statistics and numbers and they just found iteasier to cut and pace from a word document. So that's when the lightbulb went off and I was like email is the future of this. SoI spent about a year reaching out to journalists and asking them if I couldjust email them relevant press releases, and most of them said yes, andthat's sort of how e releases began. Wow, and so many when wesay 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 theaudience understand. How does it what part does the press release play and creatingor starting to create those ripples, so to speak. It's sort of likea fodder for what could be an article, and so you know, press releasesare 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 announceand you're hoping that the media will turn it into an article. You're notlooking 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 storybased off of the facts that you provided to them. It's not verycomplicated, it's not very sexy, but it is one of the main waysin which journalists build stories. I know that a lot of people are familiarwith help reporter out and for big feature stories that's great, but the averagejournalists can't create, go through the trouble of creating and in sifting through allof these people trying to pitch for a particular story. You know, manyof them are doing three to five articles a day, some less, somemore, and they're just constantly looking for another great idea, a good thingthat they can sort of curate and discover and bring to their readers or theiraudience and hopefully they'll find it intriguing. And when we start thinking about whatit takes to be successful with that portion of the strategy, that the pressrelease being kind of the starting point, what sets them apart? What makesone better than another, more effective than another? Right? I think thatyou have to sort of look at the press release through the Lens of thejournalist and he's acting as a gatekeeper for his audience and a lot of peoplesend press releases that are really just promotional only, without a high caliber ofnewsworthiness or anything that's really intriguing, and that makes it very difficult for ajournalist to find a story there. So try to approach it as what couldI 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 reallycompelling for them? That sort of changes the type of quotes you might havein a press release. Rather than a safe, mediocre quote, you mightreally 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 somethingelse that you could say that would be more newsworthy? One of the thingsthat I should just to a lot of my clients is if you don't fillyour news worthy, make the news, and by that I mean come upwith a survey or study. In your industry, anybody can release a surveyor study and generally if you ask good, thoughtful questions, as well as maybea couple oddball questions, you stand a really good likelihood that several peopleare going to pick you up. I have customers who won. Was alocal auto repair shop in Pennsylvania just looking to get links from auto industry traitsbecause their their website used to be the free one provided by the yellow pagesand when that went away, so did their website. So they had anew 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 theycould 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 thesurvey because they didn't know how to, you know, get other auto repairshops to fill out the survey. And The Independent Auto Repair Trade Association wasvery willing to do it because they see it as a win win. Thesmaller 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 sendit to your members and I'll promote you in the press release that I'll beissuing. So it was sort of a win win and I think that theygot between eight and twelve auto trade publications. Several newspapers picked it up, eventheir local newspaper, which wasn't really intentional from the beginning, but itwas really great that it happened. And what got picked up by most publicationswas this one left field question that I suggested was what's the strangest thing acustomer has left in their car while being repaired? And it was just anopen field where people would just enter stuff and you know, there was aboa constrictor there was someone. There was someone who said that they left theirgrandma and they're like, they're like the... been here for three days andthey're like, we don't see a person and they're like no, she's inan urn in the back and her memorials this evening. So we got toget her and so there are fun stories and and you know a lot ofpeople really resonated with those and it made for good fodder. Some places onlylisted like the top ten, some listed like twenty. All together, Ithink there was just over fifty of those strange little corky questions that they curatedwhen they published their survey results. But that's something anyone can do and itwasn't a huge amount of effort. It was, you know, just usinga link from survey monkey and getting someone to send it out to their membersand I think that they got over eight hundred auto repair shops that completed thesurvey. So it was really good and that's something anyone can do with anany industry. You know, this local auto repair shop is not an authorityin the automotive industry, but they were able to get a lot of mileageand 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 orthey tip into something that that has a connection with people, especially with whatwe'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 thatis more effective than, say, you know previously, maybe ray need forhuman 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 reallywell over the past year, mainly because there was so much negative news comingout 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 thedining bond initiative last year. It was sort of mirrored on the war bondinitiative and it was a way in which you could support your local restaurants whichwere closed down, by buying what they called a dining bond. It's sortof like a gift certificate for a discount and the money would immediately go toyour local restaurant and and it blew up. It was one release. We quickcounting after like a hundred and fifty places picked it up. Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, all the major papers and minor paperspicked it up. It went viral international. They started spreading it outto 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 peopleand it was something that for just two to four hundred dollars you got millionsof dollars in return. I don't care how great of a advertising person youare, you're never going to create a Google ad campaign for four hundred dollarsand create tens of millions of dollars in revenue. But that is the potentialthat 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 manypeople trying to have a voice. What percentage of the press releases that yousee or encounter our successful versus those that aren't? I would say that probablyninety 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 wherethat automatically happens with every press release, for the press release gets replicated ona 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'rereally 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'sharder 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 milestonereleases, 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. Probablya great employee, but the newsworthiness of...

...that announcement, it probably doesn't gooutside of maybe one trade publication and maybe your local newspaper. So you're betterto 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 ofthis. They have the feeling that they were just written through committee. Everything'ssafe, the quotes are bland, they're not interesting or intriguing and it's hardfor a journalist to see anything meaningful or newsworthy there. It's quite obvious atwhat you're announcing is important to you, but how is it important to apotential reader or viewer in the case of other types of content? And that'swhat's missing with so many press releases. Love it. And so, whenyou think about making this a reality, how should people incorporate into their theirstrategy? You know, what does it look like when I start to thinkabout press release versus other things that I might do? You know, myown thought leadership, blog, white papers. How do I think about it inthat tapestry of communication? What kind of role should a player how muchfocus do you think it should have on it? For companies to be assuccessful as possible, I think that you should definitely have a PR strategy inplace, one that takes into account things that work. I recently created afree master class for my customers, because so many of the releases I getare 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 youknow, masterclasses less than an hour long, and I know that if I wasto get more of them to watch it and view it and just incorporatethe ideas that are there, they would be hugely successful and it's just frustratingto see that and I'm not sure what the disconnect is. I think thatmaybe a lot of people have the role of PR but they don't have thepassion and they don't necessarily have the need to have the Roi and metrics thatwould necessitate being so strategic. And you know, that's the only thing Ican come up with. I keep pitching it and sending it out there andtelling people to take advantage of it, mostly because I want more people tosucceed than are currently succeeding with me, you know. But that being said, I have one client that does forty to sixty releases a year. Everyone of them is about a different survey or study that they do. Theycover many different industries in their field, so they just roll with one surveyand 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 allthe verticals sections of their website that they've created over the years. And soyou know, they're killing it and a lot of other people could be killingit too, but I think that some people just are so used to safeand easy ways of operating that they're not willing or accepting of going outside theircomfort zone and I kind of think you do have to push yourself and putthat 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 Isay just the opposite or be contrarian in an intelligent, meaningful way? Andwhat everybody else is zigging? Adding your voice as the guy who zags getsyou a lot of mileage. And the potential is every article that mentions thatyou could be the counter argument, because you know, journalists want to beobjective and they want to have both sides, but so many articles are just onesided because no one's out there willing to give a perspective on the oppositeside. I love it. And so if you think about I know yougive us automotive example. Can Give us another example of one of your clientshas been really successful, maybe with the contrarian approach or or the it doesn'thave to be contraying, but something that...

...sparked the conversation or debate and kindof where that looks like. So I had a local carpet company from NewJersey 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'tthink 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 spendit with you or can spend it with someone else. So I took theirmoney and after five months nothing happened, and so I went back and saidwe need to have another brainstorming session to figure something out. And I saidyou 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 ourbiggest enemy is the big box home improvement stores and it's just terrible how youhave to figure out how to market against them and you know, build yourcompelling 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 yourhouse. It's just bid to the lowest person. And the padding thatthe the big box home improvement stores, I'm told by my client, areinferior to what the local carpet companies generally recommend and install. So we dida press release that talked about that and it got picked up in more thanten floor trade publications and it became very obvious that we had touched on ablind 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 subscribersare other local carpet companies and they're all in the same boat and they're alllooking for tips and resources in the best practices, and so it did reallywell. We continue to do several releases on marketing going forward and I thinkwithin a year we had over thirty clips from trade publications and their local newspaperand the local State magazine and at I pointed out this is great, butI don't know that that helps you, because these flour trade publications aren't yourcustomers. And they said, Mickey, we're killing it. He says webuilt this like a photo album where they put all the clips and when theygo 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 upby this floor coverings today. All of these places, national publications, haverecognized us, this local carpet company, as being really great and what we'resaying is very meaningful. And then they would say the same thing they've alwayssaid. We may not come in as the cheapest, but we provide superiorpadding 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 someoneto 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 saidthat they'd always said that, but coming after the credibility of looking through theseclippings 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 sothat's the type of thing that you can do. I mean, I've hadthat work successifully and I've also had it not work successfully. When you tryto analyze a blind spot the industry. We had one client that does technologysecurity and they pointed out some vulnerabilities and we found out that the industry doesn'twant to talk about those vulnerabilities while they're there and they can't be addressed becauseof some open protocols that, you know, no one's figured out how to solveyet, they don't want to bring attention to it. But I've hadother 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, weuse 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 Isaid, they built over thirty to forty clips in a matter of a yearor two. And what do you see? Kind of on the horizon do yousee changes? For, you know, with everything that's that's happened, there'sa lot of s seismic shifts and...

...a lot of industries. I'm curiousif you see, you know, on the horizon some changes that may impactthe 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. Likethe we work through PR newswire and they did not want bloggers to get accessto 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 influentialas a trade publication and they've begun to be much more accepting of all differenttypes of influencers. There are instagram influencers who are more influential online and instagramthen, say, a fashion trade publication, and so they're getting access to thelog in, they're able to see content and even more important, whenyou get that journalist log in, you're able to really sculpt and shape whattype of releases you see. So you might have a fashion feed but youmay want to put a bunch of words to exclude, so anytime those wordsappear you don't see those releases and maybe there's ones that you definitely want tohave, so you put inclusion words and stuff like that, so you canreally tailor it to really get relevant content for you as a journalist or aninfluencer and get that material. The other change that I think that's coming isthe transition to video. I mean I think facebook is said that the nextyear 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 thefuture of news and what we do with press releases. I think that maybethe press releases self may not change, but maybe they'll be some video contentthat 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 inthe future and it just makes it, you know, more interesting because youknow, if you're willing to adapt and make those changes, then you canyou know, be the first to have the video ready press release. Whenthat 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 eachinny. The first is simply, as CEO, that makes you a prospectfor a lot of people out there that are trying to sell stuff, andI'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 theright to time on your calendar. It's difficult. I think that for me, just a personalized email works well. Sometimes linked in works well. Isee linkedin done poorly by so many people, but then sometimes people get it rightand it's obvious they've done some homework looking at your profile, and thatalways impresses me, and so I'm more receptive when that happens. Same thingwith email. If there's something you know meaningful that they've analyzed about my websiteor about me, this shows that they've synthesized or analyze the situation a littlebit 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 onething you could tell sales, marketing or professional services people, one piece ofadvice that you could give them that you believe would help them hit or exceedtheir goals. What would it be? M Why? I would say tomeasure everything, not just your ads. I am a sucker for Split testingand I split test so many things in my business outside of ads. Isplit tested what my customers receive in the mail from me as a welcome tothe ear LIASA's family, and I got really surprising results with that. I'vesplit test so many different little aspects, even just regular web pages on mywebsite. 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 businesswhere you could be, you know, split testing different collateral, different webpages. I feel like that's an important aspect and I've made a lot ofassumptions over the years and sometimes when you test them, you realize that yourassumption 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 learningmore about your services. where, ideally, would you love us to send them? He RELEASESCOM is my website. All my social media is on thelower right there. Like I said, I generally respond and Linkedin so thatmy direct linkedin is there as well. If you do have questions about pressreleases our website we have a chat we have a phone number. We haveno sales people, it's just editors. They can talk to you analyze thesituation. There's no quota or anything like that. So if we feel we'rea 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 togetherwe were able to work and find something that that was successful. I havethat free masterclass I wanted to mention on PR strategy. It's less than anhour. It's at e releasescom forward, slash, plan, PLA and andanybody that takes that is going to have a huge education and they can easilybuild a winning pr campaign just by following those lessons there. And that's themost important thing with PR is to really try to work up angles that arenewsworthy 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. Forbeing on the show today. It's been an amazing conversation. My pleasure. All right, everybody that does it, you know the drill. CHECK USout a be to be read exactcom share with friends, family, Coworkers. Until next time. We value selling associates, with you all nothingbut 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 oryour favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until nexttime.

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