Rebecca Oatley is MD of Cherish PR and she has over 20 years’ experience in the industry, describing herself as an ideas person, an alternative thinker and an optimist. Her most memorable achievements have been breaking two Guinness World Records in the space of one year and being part of the PR team on the first ever Mercury Music Prize. Cherish is an independent PR agency who partner with clients including Indiegogo, WH Smith and Shopstyle to shape their communications for the digital age.
“…Hearing someone speak about something they really believe in is engaging and contagious. People will want to tell others about you and media will want to write about you, so use the story process to reignite that passion and determination and get out there and get talking…”
More to a classic fairy tale than meets the eye
It may sound strange to begin advice on raising your media profile with seven little men in pointy red hats but there’s more to a classic fairy tale than meets the eye. The stories that we all recall fondly actually form the basis of much of the media’s daily reportage. Comedy, tragedy, rags to riches, rebirth, the rise of the small guy, the quest are all played out online, on air and in print every day, and when you want to raise your profile, this is where you start.
Women are great storytellers
It’s very easy to think about your career or your labour of love as the centre of the universe but those widgets you lose sleep over may not be that interesting to others, well not quite yet anyway. Yet women are great storytellers and by building a story around you or your business, you’re making it personal, relevant and interesting to others.
Think about the rags to riches story. It may be Cinderella but it’s also JK Rowling and it’s also the story of the female entrepreneur who built her empire from her kitchen table, wiping away the kids’ Weetabix, before entertaining the big supermarket boss. Amazon, Apple, Google all told similar stories in their early days.
Think about what kind of personal story you can tell
So think about what kind of personal story you can tell. Where did you come from? What did you battle? And what did you overcome to get to where you are now. You may not have dragons or witches but make it interesting and more importantly, make it new or unusual; the kitchen table tycoon has been done before.
It may not come to you straight away but don’t give up. There is something unique and personal about every business. The process itself actually focuses you on how brilliant you and your business actually are and you’ll start to feel even more passionate and excited about it.
Passion is engaging and contagious
Passion is definitely the second important ingredient. Hearing someone speak about something they really believe in is engaging and contagious. People will want to tell others about you and media will want to write about you, so use the story process to reignite that passion and determination and get out there and get talking.
Think about who you want to tell your story to. Who do you want to impress and where you will find them? What will they be reading, watching, browsing? This will help you identify which media you need to tell your story to.
Be ambitious but above all well informed
Be ambitious with your media, but above all be well informed. Do email your story to those big online media or pick up the phone to that glossy magazine. They are looking for great content and they do want to profile people with interesting stories to tell, but also be informed about what they regularly cover and how you could fit in. It shows you’ve taken the time to understand their job and make it nice and easy for them to include you and your, by now, brilliant story.
Big new world out there
Plus there’s a big new world out there all searching for great stories to hear and to share. So get out and get yourself in as many places as possible to tell your story. It’s not about standing on a street corner with loud hailer, although some people have managed to grab front page headlines that way, but it is about putting yourself in environments where others and in particular, the media are going to hear your story.
Conferences and networking events are a great environment for telling your story both to other visitors but also to the media that are either there as event partners or attending to gather news and stories.
These could be large consumer events, or magazine reader evenings, communities and networking groups on a local level or indeed national organisations. Speak to the organisers to see if you can join a panel or feature as a case study, attend and network and get in front of any media present.
Use social media to put yourself forward
Social media is increasingly important in the PR world. By following key media and the journalists who write for them, you’ll be the first to hear about what they’re writing and can put yourself forward. You’ll be able to engage them in conversation and suggest possible ideas or thoughts. Twitter is vital for building media engagement but also look at platforms like Medium and even GoogleChat.
And don’t give up. Many well-known names have spent years crafting, creating and telling their story to the media world. If you’re not getting any interest, get feedback; get names of other people to talk to. Use the process to learn, to tweak and keep going.
Passion comes naturally but the magic is made up of hard work
If you feel passionate about your story then it should come naturally. We all have to sell, and whether that’s creating opportunities to sell your product, or opportunities to profile your business, the time you spend should be consistent and significant. And whilst we may sell our fairy tale to the media, we all really know that magic is made up of a lot of hard work.