Coverage failure

The majority of my sales comes from word of mouth.  People I’ve worked with tell people like them facing similar communications challenges with their businesses recommend my business.  Looking at the Google Analytics for my website the majority of traffic comes directly or via social media – the proportion of social to direct traffic is relatively small – and the amount that comes from third-party sites is even smaller.

I’ve long questioned the logic of editorial coverage and so when one site whose readers are my idea customer demographic started sharing an article I published on their platform I watched with interest.  What would the impact on my inbound leads be?  Would I see any noticeable uptick in traffic?  A surge in new business enquiries? I suspected not.

Before you ask, it wasn’t a one-off.  The site has shared my article on many occasions in the last three months via its twitter account.  It has been retweeted at least 100 times by followers of that account – but yet the traffic it’s delivered to this site has been almost non-existent.  And that’s not a surprise.

If you’ve not read it then I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of Ryan Holiday’s ‘Trust Me, I’m Lying’.  It’s a fascinating insight in to the current state of the media – driven by clicks and page impressions that focus on sensational headlines and opinion, rather than because they have any value to the reader.  In the B2B sector in particular, articles aren’t shared for any reason other than driving traffic to their platform.

So, next time you want to spend thousands of dollars paying a publicity agent to secure you coverage, stop and think. Will it benefit you or the outlet it runs in more?

Want to know more about why traditional media-based PR doesn’t add up? Here’s the math of media coverage

Like this? Sign up to receive a daily PR Espresso

Why Rob Ford’s Media Interviews Were The Wrong Strategy

Rob Ford has spent time today doing one-on-one interviews – and it will only do him harm.  Having said, on Monday, he takes full responsibility for his substance abuse today he said he had been born with a disease that, effectively, was the reason he had said and done things that he has repeatedly denied and, more recently, apologized for.

Having made a statement, slash political campaign speech on Monday after two months in rehab where he failed to answer questions, Ford subsequently invited select media outlets where he preceded to dodge almost every question posed to him.  The problem is that the interviews are now being scrutinized and – as expected – there are also some discrepancies.  These discrepancies create more questions than they answer.  For Ford, this creates a problem.  It creates a credibility problem – and for a man who is trying to regain the trust of Toronto’s electorate it creates a serious problem.

Ford had the perfect opportunity to answer the questions everybody wants answers to on Monday.  He had an opportunity to answer them once and for all.  He had an opportunity to avoid any misunderstandings or discrepancies, nuances or questions that may result from multiple interviews with different media outlets.  But he blew it.

Rob Ford had the chance to explain the situation he is currently in with his drug and alcohol addictions, he had an opportunity to apologize to everybody he has hurt through his actions and words, and to answer any and all questions that need to be answered and put it behind him.  But he didn’t. And, now he’s back in the same situation he has faced for the last 14 months where a lack of clarity or consistency raises more questions that it has answered.

For Rob Ford it was his last chance at redemption – and he blew it.  In a way that only Rob Ford appears able to.

Rob Ford’s PR and Media ‘Strategies’

How To Plan For Public Relations Success

Public Relations Espresso

We’re half way through the year and today my advice is that you take a long hard – and most importantly – honest look at your PR, marketing and publicity plans to see whether they are moving you closer to your commercial objectives for the year.

Today’s THINK PR Espresso explains a little more about how to create a plan that will enable you to see quickly and easily whether your PR, marketing and publicity is working.  Tomorrow I’ll explain how to tell if your current plan is working or not.

Want to receive a daily PR Espresso in your inbox before 9am every day?  Sign up

What Use Is Hype

The common belief is that the more you hype something the more attractive it becomes to your target audience.  The truth is that the more you hype the less believable your claims become and the higher you set expectations, the more likely it is that you will fall short.

The 80:20 Rule of PR & Marketing

PR Espresso, Public Relations Espresso, THINK DIFFERENT [LY], PR for Entrepreneurs

You know the 80:20 rule, right?  80 percent of your new business comes from 20 percent of your customer-base – so why do the majority of companies not spend the same proportion of their marketing energy, resources and budget on one-fifth of their customers and audience-base?

10 Things PR Agencies Don’t Tell Startups & Smallbiz


Public relations can help an entrepreneur grow their business – but there are often huge barriers to entry.  Retainers are expensive, it is often unclear what a PR agency does, and many small businesses don’t feel they’ve the outcomes they wanted from public relations.

Here are ten things you should know before hiring a PR agency for your startup or small business.

1. If the first question an agency asks is, ‘what’s your budget?’ keep looking.

2. PR is about more than just media relations.  Most agencies sell media pitching services [publicity] and call it public relations.  If they don’t understand the fundamentals of public relations and are unlikely to be able to help you build the relationships you need to grow your business.

3.You don’t have to pay for a retainer.  Public relations programs should ebb and flow in parallel with your business and a retainer is simply a revenue guarantee for the agency.

4. Understand what you want the outcomes of a PR program to be. Set commercial objectives, not just hard to measure ‘awareness’ or ‘coverage’ or, the PR agency favourite, thought-leadership!

5. Expect to do some ground work before you do any outbound PR work.  Defining your audiences, fine-tuning your value proposition, getting the message right and figuring out the best way to deliver it are key pieces of an effective PR program.

6. The value of a public relations professional is in the advice you get, not in the activity done on your behalf. Most agencies charge based on the volume of activity they do, not on the quality of the advice they give.

7. PR is about more than just media relations.  Most agencies sell media pitching services [publicity] and call it public relations.  If they don’t understand the fundamentals of public relations and are unlikely to be able to help you build the relationships you need to grow your business.

8. You should be doing your own media outreach. Public relations is a strategic process of building relationships and if somebody else does your media work THEY have the relationships.

Journalists would also much rather to talk with you than a paid spokesperson. Hiring a PR agency often puts another barrier between you and the people who will help you grow your business.

9. Public relations should be something that touches all parts of your business – from sales to marketing, customer service to front of house.

10. Less is, often, more.  Quality always tops quantity and an effective PR plan will deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time and using the right delivery mechanism.

Also, review what you’re doing regularly.  Public relations agencies traditionally do annual reviews but in today’s real-time internet world you should be reviewing your PR plan at least every 30 days. It will enable you to make small tweaks and changes that will increase its effectiveness.

Building relationships

Steve Balmer says that the Startup community has a cultural problem.  Commenting at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford he said that there is an, incorrect, expectation that success and failure come quickly. The same is true for using public relations to build relationships.  Those that are patient and persevere, however, are more likely to build a sustainable business.

Friends, Folks and Followers…

Two words that I’m hearing online and in media interviews – friends and folks.  The first is increasingly used before a request for help – to share something or do something to increase their credibility online – or to get people to pay attention because, well a friend would, wouldn’t they?!  The second, is increasingly used after a statement to normalize it or to try and implore you to believe what has come before because the user is just like you.  Cut them some slack won’t you?

The two terms are – to my mind – used increasingly as communications tactics and are becoming increasingly ineffective.  I wonder why they’re using them – unless I really am their friend or ‘folks’ is a term that they’ve used for years.  Too often these terms are being used to manipulate; to win favour; for their advancement.  Not because it’s sincere.

So, next time you hear somebody address you as a ‘friend’ or as a ‘folk’ stop for a second and ask yourself why!