“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. 

Case Study: How Can Content Marketing Support Your Business Program or Event?

It isn’t enough to create an event or program landing page and expect attendees to flock to it. Especially if your program is new. The best approach is to create content that supports your program or event. If it’s a reoccuring program, all the better. After your first iteration, you’ll be able to use user-generated content, like testimonials to support your sales. But how can content support your business program or event?

By focusing on the why of the event, and creating the content your potential attendees need to make a purchase decision.

We Met a Company at Just the Right Time Who Wanted to Do Exactly This.

The Institute for Excellence in Sales (IES) serves as a center of actionable best practices, insights, tools, advisory services, thought leadership, and recognition that enable organizations to achieve high performance in sales. The company holds workshops in cities around the United States, bringing together top sales thought leaders and professionals.

IES Needed Content Strategy and Creation

Fred Diamond, President of IES, often searches for trusted partners for various business needs so he can concentrate on growing his company. He wanted to develop long term content marketing assets for the company’s reoccurring Women in Sales Leadership Forum. IES already produces a lot of content through the Sales Game Changers Podcast, but there was a need for specific content around this program. 

“Right as I identified the need for outsourcing, I received your email. Your portfolio impressed me, as did your diligence. I felt confident you could help me with this.”

Fred Diamond, CEO, Institute for Excellence in Sales

How DTSQ Developed a Strategy That Assisted in Program Sales

We developed a content marketing campaign to demonstrate how in touch IES is with women sales leaders’ widespread issues. Our strategy included: 

  • Topic cluster strategy development based on current content assets
  • 3 new articles for the company blog
  • Repurposing podcast clips for article quotes of admirable women sales leaders 
  • Repurposing of podcast clips for video snippets for social media
  • Ideation and design of several on brand social media graphics and posts

“We purposefully wrote the articles in an evergreen way. Fred explained that the Women in Sales Leadership Forum would be an ongoing program. Therefore, in order to offer the most value, we created assets that he could use time and time again, with minimal updating.”

Ruthie Bowles, Founder, Defy The Status Quo

Thanks to the vast library of content, and the many conversations women sales leaders have had on the Sales Game Changers Podcast, we had a wealth of content for repurposing and inspiration. We conducted keyword research to support our final selection of topics. We purposefully quoted influential women sales leaders who had been guests on the podcast to expand the reach and interest of each article. 

Examples of the social media assets created for IES

Repurposing the Sales Game Changers Podcast episodes into bite-sized video clips for social media was a very important step in the strategy. It’s a given that people won’t always click through to your site. However, it’s critical to begin conversations where your audience is. Audio clips from longer podcasts can start important discussions. 

Turning audio into video clips can greatly extend the reach of content, which was our goal for IES. Video tweets are 10x more likely to get engagement that tweets without video. On Facebook, views of branded video content had increased by 258% in 2017. We considered it critical to amplify the great content IES already had at it’s disposal, while creating new content inspired from those topics. 

“I think the value is that you gave us a lot of material that complimented our outbound efforts. Our next iteration is in October [2019], and we plan to go regional in 2020. So the goal is to have more people learn about the program without us directly reaching out to them.”

Fred Diamond, CEO, Institute for Excellence in Sales

Reoccuring Program Has Long-Term Assets

As a client, we love IES’ mission and the work they do to help sales professionals improve their professional skills. It was very exciting for us to partner with them to move the needle in the right direction. In this case, that meant creating content for IES to get the word out about this new program. 

Our aim was to provide a smooth working process. We handled uploading all of the content to the site, and created a repository that IES can access at anytime to download and reuse their social media assets. Honoring IES’ trust was paramount to what we consider success, especially as this was their first time bringing in an outside consultant for content strategy and creation. 

“I wanted to offload this, and I appreciated the quality of your work and your respect for the deadline. I trusted you to deliver, and you did. I thought that your service was quality, and I’m pleased that we partnered. I would definitely recommend you to anyone in my network.”

Fred Diamond, CEO, Institute for Excellence in Sales

We’re very proud to have created content that will be used to promote subsequent iterations of the Women in Sales Leadership Forum.