#80: 5 Tips To Start A PR Strategy Without Breaking A Sweat, with Jessica Barlow
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[00:00:00] Jessica Barlow: I don't care about what you think about my content or how I word it, because that is me and who I am. I'm never going to lose that even if I'm helping law firms, right?
[00:00:11] Laura L Bernhard: Hello entrepreneurs, small business owners and marketers. I'm your host, Laura L Bernhard. Uh, welcome back to the marketing bound podcast, where we make it easy to implement inbound marketing strategies to generate more leads, build your brand awareness and navigate inbound marketing.
[00:00:25] There's a misconception that public relations is just for larger brands. However, Jessica Barlow creator of the no agency method has helped countless small business owners get media coverage. Jessica's work has been featured in business insider refinery 29, and even got Barack Obama to say things that.
[00:00:42] This episode has been cut down to provide the five PR tips that you need to get started. So, in what you're about to hear Jessica reveals how to position your emails to journalists, why you as the founder of the best person to pitch your business, why PR should be part of your selling initiatives and some tips on how to get [00:01:00] recognized by the media?
[00:01:11] Yeah. I want to get into PR
[00:01:14] Jessica Barlow: because I'm sure our listeners are dying to get tips. Okay. I know
[00:01:21] Laura L Bernhard: that having a story is very essential for a brand, but you also say that it's pretty important for PR can you tell us why
[00:01:33] Jessica Barlow: that's super important? So when you're talking to a journalist. The only thing they care about is what is the story.
[00:01:43] So you're not ever selling your product to a journalist. You're selling the reason why you created your product or the reason which created the opportunity for you to start your business or the inspiration in your life that created the opportunity to solve the gap in the market. That [00:02:00] et cetera, et cetera.
[00:02:01] And. The more kind of beautiful, that story is the more likely you can kind of tap into the emotional side of a journalist and get coverage. So the story is everything. So the, um, the kind of number one place to start there is like, what is my personal brand and what is my founder story? So why did I.
[00:02:23] Start this business and who am I as a person? What am I willing to put out there? Um, and I think crucially, and this is something people forget, like what are my boundaries of what I won't share? Because there are some founders and entrepreneurs who will bleed all over the page who will show their kids going to school.
[00:02:40] They'll show up. The expensive house they live in, they'll show everything. And then there are some, there's some people where you're only going to see just the business side. And that's like, uh, when you're building your personal brand and understanding how far you'll go, I think it's really crucial to take a step back and think of your boundaries, um, and understand what [00:03:00] you're willing and not willing to share.
[00:03:02] And then when it comes to your founder story, There can be more than one reason that you started a business. I saw a gap in the market. I am an expert in X. I really love this thing, but you also have to take a step back and think, okay. Which of these stories is interesting to other people? Not just interesting to your friends, your mom, your colleagues, your team, because obviously when you are so close to stuff, That's when you're blind to the value.
[00:03:33] You've got to think about like, if I stopped a stranger in the street and I told them what I do, would they be interested enough in it? Just go home and tell their partner or tell a friend, right? Like try to take it that far and never ask your family or your own friends for that kind of opinion. Try to get a genuine, like stranger's opinion.
[00:03:54] Otherwise, your story is going to be so skewed and your own personal emotions. So when you're [00:04:00] figuring out that story to tell that that's the challenge, what's interesting. You've got to step back and be like, who cares about this? Who cares about me? Who cares about my product? If you can resonate with the whole idea of who cares, then you're going to be in the journalist shoes because they're like, like, dude, I get a thousand emails by 12:00 PM in my inbox.
[00:04:21] I don't care about it. You're going to make them care. And that's where, you know, the emotive story comes in where the genius story comes in, where the, you know, the personal attachment, whatever it is for you. That's what you've got to find. The you've got to breakthrough the who cares moment. So that means you also have
[00:04:40] Laura L Bernhard: to have a very good subject line in your email.
[00:04:46] Jessica Barlow: Totally. So one of the, like, actually my favorite lesson in the new agency method is basically called how to send a better email one that will actually get opened because. Breaking through someone's inbox [00:05:00] is your ultimate goal, especially if you're going after like traditional, like print media or online media, if you're going through, um, PR that involves like speaking at events or if your PR is all about networking, because in my opinion, PR is basically everything to do with and your image and your reputation.
[00:05:18] Then, you know, if you aren't going downward to just chill routes with your PR. Your email is so crucial, so, so crucial and you have to cut through the noise. You have to be interesting. I have a whole I'm I'm not gonna bore you with it now because it's, it's a little bit too involve. It would take me like 15 minutes just to talk you through the lesson.
[00:05:37] But essentially my point of view on emails is stop acting so professional because nobody cares. No one cares. Like how, like, hi, so-and-so hope. You're. Well, are you enjoying the sunshine? How was your summer? How long have you been navigating these difficult times? Literally you are wasting words. Um, never introduced yourself.
[00:05:59] [00:06:00] It is a complete waste of time. It's not worth it. If you have an email signature, that's your introduction already. If they're interested in you they'll click onto your website. You basically, you don't need to say like, hi, I'm Jessica from the new agency. Your email address? My email address is email@example.com.
[00:06:20] Do you think they can't put two together? Stop wasting your words, but basically like you've got to be more humanistic, more clever and less boring when you're sending an email. And that's how you get your point of view across. Can you give
[00:06:35] Laura L Bernhard: us an example of a brand or a person that you helped? Just to give the listeners an idea of how to break through the noise.
[00:06:44] Maybe an example of a story. I don't know if you can share that.
[00:06:48] Jessica Barlow: So, um, I've helped someone just from that. Not, not even need it from a PR perspective or PR for their own brand, but they wanted to, um, learn how to send a better email breakthroughs [00:07:00] from the noise. And also crucially get an email through to someone who is so in demand.
[00:07:04] So desirable very, very famous I'm sure. You know, Very very well-known sportswear like really, really well-known. And, uh, I know someone who using my methodology of how to send a better email. She works in like sustainable sportswear development. So basically similar space, but slightly skewed. And. I, I don't even know why she was getting in touch or how, or what, what was really required, but using my methodology, she got a reply from the founder of the business and you know that this is someone who couldn't be more busy and more important.
[00:07:42] So it works. I mean, for me, I've used the same methodology of sending better email to get in front of journalists, to get in front of, you know, people doing wards and anything that I'd needed to open doors, but it's the same logic can be used to, if you need to get ahold of a [00:08:00] buyer, if you needed to get ahold of an investor, if you need, if you're looking for a job yourself, your email has to be more interesting, not aligned.
[00:08:07] Laura L Bernhard: Can any company use. This methodology, because I feel like not every company has interesting stories. So do you think everybody,
[00:08:19] Jessica Barlow: do you think that there is a assumption that if you weren't B2B then PR or being interesting or being funny or being human is not for you? And I think it's a joke because as if companies who are operating B2B, bear in mind that no agency method is B2B.
[00:08:37] Right. And if you look at any of my content, like I am British. Like, I, I don't care about what you think about my content or how I word it, because that is me and who I am. I'm never going to lose that, even if I'm helping law firms. Right. I don't talk any different to someone at a law firm that I would talk to someone from like a vegan chocolate brand that it's no different, right?
[00:08:59] Like I might, [00:09:00] and this is a great example. So I helped a vegan chocolate brand who are very, very popular in this side of the world. And they, um, they were paying an agency. Thousands and thousands of pounds a month. And instead with the money, they'd say, if they can hire two additional marketing staff in order to bolster the work that they're doing and own it themselves in house.
[00:09:22] So it's completely changed the way their businesses has run. I mean, they save like at my math about 48,000 pounds. Okay. Now having basically like implemented no agency method. So do I think that anybody can do it obviously? Yeah. It's sector agnostic. I think that if you take the approach that B2B has to be so professional and serious, et cetera, et cetera, then you are creating a scenario where you are like dampening and like dimming the light on all of your employees.
[00:09:54] So if I
[00:09:55] Laura L Bernhard: want to apply them, Methodology that you're talking
[00:09:59] Jessica Barlow: [00:10:00] about. It's being yourself, not being so professional, not
[00:10:04] Laura L Bernhard: wasting any words in that email and coming up with a really good email subject line. And to me, like when you're looking at an email, like you have this much space, my fingers are very close to each other for whoever is listening to this, they're very close to each other.
[00:10:23] Jessica Barlow: How do I know if this is interesting? I guess like you, you've got to think when you're sending this email, is there a way that you can create a hook of interest that is a little bit more personal? It's a little bit more. Relevant for the reader, because at the end of the day, you are, you need to appeal to either their emotions or their ego or their job, or how is this opening, this email going to improve their life, right?
[00:10:54] Because if you operate from the space that everything that you do, [00:11:00] all of your Instagram content, LinkedIn content, your email outreach, everything is just you selling. I guarantee you that. It's just people don't respond to that. People respond to people. So if you remember that, then it will completely change how you run your business.
[00:11:16] So it's the
[00:11:18] Laura L Bernhard: value for them, just like any social media content.
[00:11:22] Jessica Barlow: Exactly. But you have to be, you know, you have very limited words, so you have to be far more clever about it. And I wouldn't think of it as a game. You also, in order to make this work for yourself, you have to remove yourself from the emotion attached to rejection because, or being ignored because it is impossible that all of your email out outreach will be.
[00:11:45] You know, it's impossible. And if you are that person that every email I reached you've ever done to every like cold person, it works, they come and talk to me because I clearly should learn from you. But if you, if you let go [00:12:00] from that rejection, because just because someone doesn't reply to you then doesn't mean they won't another time when you have somebody perhaps a little, a little bit more valuable, then you give yourself a little bit more room to breathe and be risky.
[00:12:14] And have fun. What's your
[00:12:15] Laura L Bernhard: advice for entrepreneurs? Business owners, brands that are
[00:12:21] Jessica Barlow: too scared to pitch their ideas? Oh, I think this is such a sad one. Like the idea of being scared of sales. Not going to do anything but harm your business in the long run. My number one advice for this is first of all, if you were the founder of the business, or even if you just work for the team or you're in the company, then you know your company better than anybody.
[00:12:47] Right. There's no way that someone else could know your business better than you because you are the one running. So with that energy, you have to remember that you are the expert of your own business. So when you were talking to [00:13:00] someone, when you're selling yourself, You're in a position of power. You are the expert you're already, you know, like able to stand up, put your shoulders back, be proud and give them the story that they need to hear because it's coming from a place of expertise.
[00:13:14] So if you lead from that expertise or almost like expert advice, I think it changes the way you think about selling it. No longer becomes selling icky. I know what I'm talking about. I
[00:13:25] Laura L Bernhard: really liked that you called it selling. I've never thought of PR as selling. I always thought of it as marketing and like it's strictly marketing, but I really liked, I liked that you called it selling.
[00:13:40] That's really great advice.
[00:13:42] Jessica Barlow: Now let's say it's pitching, right? Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
[00:13:48] Laura L Bernhard: That's so true. I never ever realized
[00:13:51] Jessica Barlow: that. Mic drop moments. That's that's
[00:13:56] Laura L Bernhard: it. These conversations are for, to learn. Great. Now let's [00:14:00] say I'm I pitch my story and I don't hear from them. Should I continuously pitch now I can change the pitch.
[00:14:11] I can change the email subject line. Should I be doing that to get through to them? Or is there something else that
[00:14:19] Jessica Barlow: we should know about? Before you figure out any of that, what you would definitely need to do is look at your overall PR and outreach strategy and align it with your business goal goals.
[00:14:32] So if your story is, is one that you are willing to change every week, then something is wrong in your business goals and your strategy, because you should have far more alignment between your business and whatever you want to achieve for PR. Because just getting PR is not going to help move your business forward.
[00:14:51] It has to be PR that supports your goals. So if you are a tech startup and your intention is you want to get PR because you want to be getting media [00:15:00] attention in the right places that investors see so that you can raise money. Then your business goal is raising money, right? Your business goal, isn't getting PR.
[00:15:09] Then you have to streamline the outreach in order to be, where are the investors? Their media, like what, what story are they going to see about me in order for them, for their interest to be piqued enough that they'll take a meeting with me. Right? And then you end up being able to use what you do achieve refine it, understand like that it had a purpose because then you can use that to open doors.
[00:15:34] Like, I mean, I'm sure an investor is far more interested to be. In a, a cold email scenario, perhaps when you, as a tech founder can say, as adored by Forbes, we'd love to meet with you. Rather than just having, you know, having not been able to get that like cultural cachet of the big check mark from the media.[00:16:00]
[00:16:00] So, okay. So that's question one in terms of answering your question in the first place. Yeah. You can't just blindly pitch. It just doesn't work like that. You will not succeed. And it, I think is why a lot of founders feel like PR is not for them because they tried blindly pitching and leading with press releases, which is like a whole other mess that if you do my method, I go right into, and then, you know, you're not happy because you didn't see any results.
[00:16:24] But then secondly, If you have sent something and nobody has replied, you have to also remember that kind of like rejection ignoring kind of confidence and be okay with it. But also remember that people are busy. So. You have to have given yourself enough buffer room and like a, um, a window of time to be pitching so that you're not selling a story that needs to go live tomorrow because that's when the story launches, you've got to give yourself room that you could pitch it.
[00:16:52] Check in two weeks later, maybe a week later, it really depends per media vertical or who you're trying to speak to just to be like, By the way, [00:17:00] this just in case you didn't whatever, you know, just so that you can see if you've come, it's completely dead in the water. If it is dead in the water, it's an opportunity for you to learn
[00:17:10] Okay. I now know that this media vertical, this journalist, this company, they don't like. Let's strike it off the list. Let's use that to further refine our strategy so that we are constantly learning and growing and getting somewhere together and yeah, completely like just chasing and chasing the same email and like, you know, have you seen this?
[00:17:31] Can I send you this press release? Like you are going to make enemies. So I don't, I don't recommend it.
[00:17:38] Laura L Bernhard: I really like what you said about. Aligning it with your business goals. And just for anybody listening to this thinking like,
[00:17:46] Jessica Barlow: Ooh, I can use
[00:17:47] Laura L Bernhard: PR for my business. Can you give us more reasons on where we can use PR?
[00:17:54] You said for investors, can, can we use PR to help us. [00:18:00]
[00:18:00] Jessica Barlow: I mean, so I worked with like a non alcoholic, like a parents alternative and, uh, you know, helping her find her like as a founder or helping her refine her founder story. So why did she create it? She created it because she was pregnant. She used to work in alcohol.
[00:18:19] That kind of ritual moment of making a drink and so created something incredible. I have it in my fridge. It's really nice. And, uh, there was an opportunity that came about where she's going to be on TV. And that is PR so betting on TV means that from a sales perspective, you're suddenly reaching this brand new ginormous audience.
[00:18:41] She sold out a year's worth of stock in two hours. Well, they are, and sales are like this. If you get it right, it's not always going to happen. You can never guarantee it one way or another, but sometimes something magic happens and that magic is going to happen when your story and your goals [00:19:00] and the person you're trying to reach that all comes together.
[00:19:03] At the end of the day, any kind of PR that is positive for your business is like another check mark. It's another social proof to say, like, we are important in the eyes of the third party that we didn't like pay. And, uh, that's no bad thing. I think
[00:19:21] Laura L Bernhard: PR is many of the times overlooked
[00:19:24] Jessica Barlow: by businesses. Right.
[00:19:26] Laura L Bernhard: I feel like, oh, let's do social media. Oh, let's do video
[00:19:29] Jessica Barlow: content. Right?
[00:19:33] Laura L Bernhard: For people who are now listening to this and thinking, Hmm, maybe I should consider PR when you're thinking of it. After the fact, when you already have your goals and your strategies, how do you start fitting in PR into your maybe
[00:19:45] Jessica Barlow: daily tasks or into your strategy as a whole?
[00:19:50] So I think that's where you take the opportunity to make sure that yeah. You're all still working towards the same goals. And then you have a look at, in [00:20:00] order to reach those goals. What kind of audiences do we want to be reaching? And then where are those audiences hanging out? And in the process of figuring all those bits out, you have your strategy, right?
[00:20:11] That's all the places that you want to be. And then you just action on it. And the best time to do that is like putting a few or not bringing in like an entire person just to manage it. Very unrealistic for most people, it is useful perhaps to empower your marketing team, to do it, and they spend time each morning, scan the media, understand what's going on in the world.
[00:20:33] And then look at the opportunities.
[00:20:36] Laura L Bernhard: If people don't think that they have enough time to do these pitches, maybe they're a solopreneur. Should they just reach out to huge publications?
[00:20:48] Jessica Barlow: No. The problem with that is you're putting all of your eggs in one basket and it's, it's a basket that's harder to reach, right?
[00:20:56] It's like, if you think that it's [00:21:00] difficult to get a hold of, uh, your local newspaper, then you are overlooking something that is. Kind of like sitting pretty for you. So rather than if you have very little time thinking super, super big, I would think what is a niche audience that I can reach much faster, and then you're going to have the thrill of success there.
[00:21:22] And then you can maybe look at reassessing your schedule. If you saw positive returns from that to find the time to do it right. Or, you know, if you are like company of one and you start expanding to the place where you might be able to afford a PA or VA, maybe that's the opportunity that you say, Hey, I'm going to empower my VA to do this on my back.
[00:21:43] Right. There are always ways that you can do this. But one thing that people always forget to get energy to is local or regional press. So instead of saying, I want to go to the New York times, think about your neighbor. Think about [00:22:00] your actual, like hometown, even it doesn't have to be where you live. It could be a hometown story about the success in a big city, because you are, you know, from that place.
[00:22:10] And it's interesting. And when you're looking at at local or regional press, it's usually as easy as a phone call away. Whereas when you want to reach national huge media publications, that is. A long slog of pitching. Yeah. So not that the other one, isn't going to reach more eyeballs, but which one is going to happen faster that you learned from?
[00:22:35] And also if you have a product that is locally relevant, then why aren't you doing it anyway? That's part of your audience, right? Hmm. That's so
[00:22:43] Laura L Bernhard: interesting.
[00:22:44] Jessica Barlow: If the listeners
[00:22:46] Laura L Bernhard: had to take anything away from all of your tips, Which one do you think is the most important?
[00:22:53] Jessica Barlow: I would probably say don't forget that you're the expert.
[00:22:58] What I always want to [00:23:00] impart to founders and startup teams is a sense of empowerment and confidence that this is possible, that it's not scary. It does remove the smoke and mirrors, like take the fog away and the cobwebs and everything that you thought that PR was and realize that I'm the expert. I have a story to tell.
[00:23:18] Let's find the place where I can tell. And be okay with telling myself, well,
[00:23:25] Laura L Bernhard: Jessica, thank you so much for being here today and sharing your knowledge with us and your story. And we're definitely going to keep in touch. I want to know everything that happens to the no
[00:23:37] Jessica Barlow: agency method. I look forward to it.
[00:23:40] I mean, I think we were just talking earlier. We're going to chill in Montreal when we can travel again. I'm so excited. I'm assuming. Oh my,
[00:23:52] Laura L Bernhard: okay. Yes. We're going to, we're going to just going to end this interview now because we have to discuss this. Bye everyone. Thank you for [00:24:00] listening.
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