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“6 Months with Your PR Pro. What Now?” with Jennifer McGinley

This is part three of my interview with Jennifer McGinley, CEO of JLM Strategic Communications. In today’s episode, we talk about what you should expect to see after 6 months of working with a public relations professional. PR is a lot like content in that 6 months isn’t a whole lot of time depending on your goals. However, there are micro-signs of success if you know what to look for.

Jenn also explains why she starts out with local PR opportunities first. It’s to safeguard the future of your business. 

Here is the podcast episode:


Here are the shownotes:

Ruth: Well, it’s funny that you brought up the Today show. (Jenn brought up the Today show in her previous episode).

I wrote a piece on supply chain and logistics, and there was an ecommerce company that did get on the Today show. The very next day, their business tanked. The amount of coverage they got flooded their website with orders. They didn’t have the business infrastructure in place to handle it. They ended up with a bunch of unhappy customers, and having to do a ton of refunds. (We told this story in more detail in a post about growing too fast).

So I definitely would err on the side of the local outreach, and not just to build reputation. If your business starts to grow, could you be an overnight success? Especially for a product-based company, overnight success would be a nightmare

Start with Local PR for Manageable Growth

Jennifer: Clients want the Big Bang. They want to get on CBS, or NPR, but they don’t really understand what’s logistically involved. I see five steps ahead of them, because I’ve been doing this for so long. I just know the fallout. 

It’s like the Oprah Effect. If you’re going to get on Oprah, you better have all your supply ready to go. If you’re getting on that show, you’re going to be an instant success. Whether it’s Ellen, whether it’s Good Housekeeping, or anything like that, you need to plan ahead. 

Planning ahead for success is one thing, and planning for failure is another thing. It’s that good balance of smart thinking and strategy. 

Public Relations Pros Are Great at Strategy

PR people are really good for strategy, consulting, and talking things out. I know I helped a dear friend of mine in college. She had a White House Summit 24 hours after I talked to her.

We set up a FaceTime call and she said, “I’m a nervous wreck. I’ve got to go speak on Capitol Hill tomorrow.” And I said, “You’re going to be fine. You have your MBA, you’re so well-educated. You are truly passionate about the work you do. Think of a triangle. Think of three points that you are going to make to really impact your work and your community, and help at this legislative session. You will be fine.” 

Jenn Says “Be Yourself”

I always say just be your best self. I think a lot of people forget about that. It’s like going into a job interview. Well, you made it to that interview because they already like what they saw. Take a deep breath and have that competence that brought you so far along. Everybody loves you for what you are, and what you really bring to the table. That’s half the battle. 

PR people are great at coaching, strategy, consulting, and seeing the bigger picture. Even I need to talk with other people. Whether it’s another PR expert or a business strategist, because I’m not seeing the same picture that somebody else is.

It’s been 6 months since we started working together. What do you typically expect to see at this point?

Jennifer: The website is up. We’ve got proper videos, even if it’s cell phone videos, talking about the client as an expert in their field. We may have had a couple of local media placements or some expert commentary, whether it’s a blog, a podcast interview, etc. 

If the client had an event, I would’ve definitely done the bio, a draft press release, as well as a media advisory to the local media outlets first. Depending on where that event takes place, then I would handle things differently. 

Six months is a lot more realistic than three. I have a client right now that has had a ton success before I started working with him. It’s been a bit tough to get new, different outlets. He’s already been covered so much in the national media outlets. So I have to up my game, my strategy, and be even more creative. That’s a great challenge, which I love. 

But with a brand new client, who hasn’t had a lot of media experience/exposure, it’s exciting. I can be creative, thoughtful, and I can think outside of the box. If there is breaking news, or I have some colleagues that need something, I can reach out to the media and say, “I’ve got this idea. What do you think about it?” This gives me a little bit more leverage to work with them. 

Leverage Current Events to Your Advantage

If there is a certain month, like Diabetes Awareness Month or Entrepreneurship Month, there are other opportunities that give you the framework to educate the community. 

Mental health is something that’s really important to me, because you can take definitions of depression, anorexia, or any other types of mental health issues, to educate and build awareness of a certain disease, but also bring in business. Any type of business or product has that same opportunity. 

I think in 6 months, there’s definitely going to be a lot more traction. We’ve got increased connection, visibility, and credibility. So when I pitch it to the media nationally, I already have some local media placements that I can send to them, so they know this person is prepped and ready for a possible interview. The media loves a package. 

I have done all the leg work for them; I’ve gathered statistics, I already have a quote for my client , and everything else is beautifully-written, very distinct and concise. Everything has been double checked, the grammar is perfect, the spelling is perfect. They can just run with it.

I have had that happen. I got my client a full page feature in her local newspaper, which she was so excited to see. I had written that content already, so that’s fantastic because I had already approved it. She’s already approved it. And that’s a win-win for everybody. 

And it’s a win-win for that outlet, because budgets are tighter with certain media outlets and they don’t have the staff that they used to. I need to provide authentic value and credibility to that media outlet, because they have an audience to serve. It’s not about me, it’s not about my client. At the end of the day, it’s about serving that media outlet.