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PR & Publicity

Why You Should Rethink Using a PR Firm

For those thinking about implementing thought leadership into their media strategy, here are three distinct advantages over traditional PR.

Kelsey Meyer




After entrepreneurs sink thousands of dollars into a PR campaign with no thought, execution strategy or results, they may want to jump ship – fast. These budding startups often look to PR to get the instant exposure and traction they need to succeed. But the truth is that traditional PR, or the act of just pitching stories to journalists, alone is rarely the golden ticket.

This strategy is fundamentally flawed because companies don’t control the message or the audience it’s reaching. You rely on someone else to tell your story, and it’s nearly impossible to predict the results. Many entrepreneurs don’t realise that they can direct the media conversation using a different type of strategy: thought leadership.

By becoming a thought leader, an entrepreneur, CEO or executive can become the go-to resource for information on history, news, trends and the future of an industry. Also, it can help build your influence with potential customers, partners, investors, reporters, peers and others.

Related: How to Ensure your PR Business Evolves with the Times

You control the message

Media exposure is important, but using a PR firm and journalists to communicate your message to the public can quickly become a game of telephone. As your message passes through each person and organisation, it can get convoluted or simplified.

If you’ve ever been interviewed by a journalist, seen the final piece and said, “That’s out of context,” then you can relate. In a situation where the press is positive, you still run the risk of revealing information that’s not relevant or important to your specific audience.

Although thought leadership allows you to control the message, some companies can also misinterpret what this means. It doesn’t give you free rein to brag on your company. Self-promotion will immediately devalue your message, decrease your chances of getting published and turn readers away. Thought leadership is about writing what you know, sharing your expertise and addressing potential customer pain points.

You can humanise your brand

Consumers want to engage with the faces behind a brand. When you implement a thought-leadership strategy, you’re putting the people in your company at the forefront and educating your audience.

Potential customers can interact directly with executives at your company and learn more about their experiences and industry expertise. This will position you as a trusted source for information, and when people from your audience are ready to purchase, they’ll feel confident in choosing your company.

Related: How To Handle Negative Online Reviews

Education and engagement build trust

When a reporter writes an insightful, in-depth analysis of industry trends, he’s educating an audience and building a community of loyal followers. If your company simply gets name-dropped, there’s a slim chance the feelings of trust and loyalty will pass on to you.

When you author the educational content, trust, engagement and a sense of community form around you, your content and brand. It’s difficult to build a following if you’re relying on journalists to pick up the message you want to convey.

And with 78 % of consumers thinking companies that provide custom content have a vested interest in building meaningful relationships, it’s the perfect segue to brand trust and loyalty.

Calculating the ROI of both PR and content marketing is difficult – unless you have a snazzy algorithm like SeatGeek. But marketers who emphasize blogging are 13 times more likely to drive ROI. HubSpot also deems content the lifeblood of inbound, which produces a 300 percent ROI for companies that incorporate it versus those that don’t.

If you’re a CEO, a CMO or an extremely passionate employee, dig into the results you’re getting from your PR firm. Make sure nothing is standing in the way of humanizing your brand, controlling the message and engaging your audience to build trust.

Some PR firms get it right by combining thought leadership and traditional PR methods or working with a thought leadership firm. Together, these complementary ingredients can make a recipe for brand success.

Related: Why You Shouldn’t Skimp on PR

This article was originally posted here on

Kelsey Meyer is the president of Influence & Co., a content-marketing firm specializing in helping companies showcase their expertise through thought leadership. Influence & Co.’s clients range from venture-backed startups to Fortune 500 brands.


PR & Publicity

5 Reasons Your Start-up Isn’t Getting The PR You Need

Understanding and working with the requirements of journalists covering your industry will go a long way toward increasing your company’s visibility.

Syed Balkhi




Getting press coverage for your start-up has become increasingly difficult. With an average of 550 000 new businesses starting each month, you’re facing some serious competition to gain traction with your audience. If you don’t take the right approach to PR, you’ll see your competition pass you by.

Exposure doesn’t happen by chance. Behind every great brand story you see in the media, there is a great PR strategy.

Let’s look at some of the most common mistakes that prevent startups from getting the press coverage they desire.

1. Not taking blogging seriously

Blogging on a regular basis is one of the best ways to impact mainstream discourse. A growing number of journalists and reporters are constantly looking for new and interesting story ideas in the blogosphere. You can make your blog a fresh source of news stories by writing about your story and your industry, and by commenting on different aspects of your business.

To get the right press coverage by blogging, ask yourself why your company exists and what problem your product or service solves. Present your story as human and relatable and make sure it is compelling enough to grab the attention of the media.

Related: 9 Answers You Need About Yourself Before Starting Your Own Business

2. Not networking with relevant journalists

Networking allows you to build a quality relationship with relevant journalists whom you might not have encountered otherwise.

To get quality press coverage, you need to focus on networking with journalists who cover your niche, and to learn what they write about and what their audience likes to share.

Once you have built a connection, you can pitch them the story of your business.

But before you jump in, keep in mind that journalists hear pitches all the time. If you’re sending generic pitches that focus on only yourself, most likely they’ll ignore your proposal. To make your pitch stand out, tailor your story to fit with their beat.

3. Not making your story exclusive to each journalist


Exclusivity is a strong enticement for a news outlet. Not only will it make them more invested in the story, but it will also entice them to get the jump on their competitors.

Assuming you have exclusive-worthy news, the next thing you must decide is what outlet to offer it to so that it has the best chance of reaching your target audience. The goal is to not always reach the broadest audience but to get your news in front of existing and potential customers.

Related: 5 Books To Read Before Starting Your Business

4. Not using the right tools

To build and maintain a great PR presence, you need to use the right tools; ones that help you amplify and monitor your business’s public appeal.

Some of them are:

  • Help a Reporter Out: HARO is one of the easiest free tools when it comes to pitching the media. It lets you gain access to daily emails from journalists seeking interviews.
  • Google Keyword Planner: This free tool helps you plan out your blog posts with relevant keywords that people are searching for. Careful word selection will help your blog show up higher in search engines returns.
  • BlogAbout Title Generator: My favourite free tool to help me brainstorm catchy titles for reporters.
  • Google Alerts: This is a free tool that sends you alerts when your company or competitor is being featured in various media outlets.

5. Not being authentic

Reporters are consistently getting pitched stories from entrepreneurs that want press. To make your pitch stand out, be authentic. The reporters covering news in your industry want to hear your story.

Related: How You Create A Money Spinning App Without Any Coding Skills

Keep in mind that they need you as much as you need them, and they are actively looking to build relationships with entrepreneurs. So, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. To get your story covered, you need to find the right reporter and the right publication at the right time and to be authentic.

No matter how good your product is, it may fail if it doesn’t make its way into the public eye. To get the right press coverage, you need to build a strong network of journalists and bloggers writing about your industry.

When you send a pitch, ensure that it stands out and tailor it to fit it with the reporter’s beat. From this list of errors, you can avoid the mistakes preventing you from getting the PR you desire. Fix it and you can increase the visibility of your start-up.

This article was originally posted here on

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PR & Publicity

How To Use Mistaken Inquiries To Drive Awareness Of Your Business

Whether this is a walk-in, telephonic or e-mail client, be sure not to regret your interaction with them, have a plan in place, how you will deal with such situation.

Neli Moqabolane




At times, we receive inquiries or communication from people seeking products/services that aren’t in our line of work. It can also be someone who has mistaken you for a certain company that you’re not. It’s easy to dismiss such inquiries, by simply saying you’re unable to assist the person.

Don’t miss an opportunity to publicise your company, treat the enquirer as one of your clients. Take a proactive approach, use this as an opportunity to inform them about your company and the services/products that you offer.

In doing this you are building a reputation for your brand, and introducing your corporation to someone who might have never known about. It might happen in future, that the said person needs your products/services when they remember how you professionally assisted them, then they will come to you.

Another possibility is that at that moment they are connected to someone who needs your services and they don’t know anyone in your field. Should you play your cards correctly, you might gain a client for the future or the present.

Whether this is a walk-in, telephonic or e-mail client, be sure not to regret your interaction with them, have a plan in place, how you will deal with such situation.

1Respond professionally

Your response should be structured in a manner that will make the enquirer feel respected and not embarrassed about the mistake they’ve made. When responding to emails ensure that you do so quickly. Sympathise that you cannot assist them because your company only specialises in different services/products. State clearly what is it that you provide and how you do it. 

Related: A Guide to Optimising Your Business’ Social Media Usage

2Show how you solve problems

In the process of explaining your services/products, demonstrate how you can solve people’s problems or meet their needs. This means that you describe your products/services in detail. However, your description should be a comprehensive summary, consider that the enquirer has a life to live.

3Make your brand visible


When responding to emails, remember to include your logo, motto and other things that your brand is identified by. Your offices should be designed keeping this in mind when someone walks in, they should immediately see your identity.

4Offer samples 

If you have samples to give, kindly offer them to the enquirer. Should you have demonstrations/presentations that you do, politely inform the enquirer about them. Let them know how they can get hold of this.

Related: How To Impress The Press

5Provide them with an opportunity to come back to you

You can share your business card with someone you meet, this should have all your contact detail, i.e. telephone, fax, e-mail and social media details. In an email, these should be nicely positioned at the end of your email, as part of your final greeting.

6Refer them to a relevant business

Should you know of any company that offers the services/products they need, refer them to it without hesitation. If possible, provide them with contact details and a contact person to assist them.

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PR & Publicity

How You Can Avoid The ‘Facebook Effect’

Don’t let perceived realities – of your business or those of your competitors – derail your strategies.

Allon Raiz




As a young entrepreneur, I received my first bit of publicity from a daily in Durban. It was massively exciting and stroked my ego tremendously because after all, what I had achieved was considered newsworthy enough to be published in a newspaper.

There was a big photo of me on page four, with my interview where I talked about the success of a promotion I had conceived and implemented. My friends saw the article and called to congratulate me, and in my distant social circles people discussed my story and congratulated me too.

Perception versus reality

What they didn’t know was that my business was barely breaking even at the time. The perception of my success was very different to my reality. I proudly showed the article to my mentor (naively expecting a pat on the back) and instead he asked: “Do you believe what they say?” “What do you mean?” I said. “Do you believe all the things the journalist has written about you in the article?” he asked again.

I didn’t answer him because I knew deep down that they weren’t all true. I wasn’t the hugely successful businessman that I was portrayed as in the article.

“If you believe all the good things the press write about you, you’ll also believe all the bad things they say. Be grateful for the press, but do not let it govern your emotions.”

Beware curated reality

In today’s era of social media, fake news, memes, and overly filtered photos, it’s very easy to become envious of the perceived lives that others showcase.

Much like the envy we experience when scrolling through our friends’ posts of their expensive destination holidays — where they can be seen showing off their tanned, ripped bodies while sipping expensive champagne — the same type of envy occurs between business owners when they scroll through competitor’s company timelines and witness their competitors winning great awards, attending glitzy launches and receiving kudos from the press.

In my experience, the perception created by these often-boastful social media posts is seldom close to reality. Like the article on my Durban business, what my friends perceived was nowhere near my financial reality.

Be cognisant and sceptical of this curated reality, so that you as a business do not react in one of two ways to a competitor’s posts:

  • Don’t try to emulate their strategy based on what seems to be working
  • Don’t end up feeling depressed based on your jealousy of this curated reality.

Instead, your reaction to witnessing these posts should be to:

  1. Frame your competitors’ posts simply as marketing. They have carefully curated these posts to only show followers the great things about their businesses, products and services. The ‘make-up’ hides the imperfections.
  2. Use your emotions to make a change. Use the energy their posts ignite inside of you — not the content they project — and pump that energy into YOUR strategy to reinforce it.
  3. Drive your differentiator harder. Make sure your business stands out as being unique and a thought leader in its industry and not one attempting to copy others. Your differentiator should not be influenced by what you are seeing either positively or negatively.

Always remember, your competitors’ posts represent selective truth-telling because they curate what they want you to see online.

They will never post when times are tough and they are losing clients and not making a profit at the end of the month. Don’t believe everything you see, and most importantly, don’t let these ‘perceived realities’ affect you or your business strategy in any way.

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