I’ve been working quietly behind-the-scenes with the amazing, patient and talented Natalie McGuire on a website update, and I’m so happy it’s finally time to share it with you.
While I know you can click around the site and see for yourself, I wanted to take a moment to welcome you and point out a few areas of interest, as there’s so much more to this refresh than a couple of cosmetic changes.
It’s a better representation of the work.
While you probably think of B primarily as a small agency that can help you with media outreach, our speciality is much deeper than that.
Where we shine is in helping forward-thinkers and purpose-driven organizations differentiate your work.
I felt this was an important distinction to make, because this is one of the top marketing challenges for our clients.
And even when an individual or organization has their positioning dialed in, it’s critical that everything we do is aligned with that market differentiation.
Because, let’s face it.
Competition for your audience’s attention is fierce.
Just as online marketing channels have made it more affordable for many businesses to launch, it’s also given your audience an abundance of choice.
This can often lead small businesses and organizations wondering how you can stand among so much competition.
This worry is natural, but it often blinds you to the opportunities that are in front of you.
What you may not yet see is just how many holes in the market there are.
Holes that your people are desperate for you to fill.
What I’ve learned working for clients across industries is that most of your competitors don’t put in the work to dig into the messages your clients are receiving in the media, through books, at conferences and from their peers.
And we use this insight to help our clients stand apart from the competition.
That’s why, even though PR is a big part of what my company offers, we don’t just pitch stories on your behalf.
We help you identify what it is about your work that makes your audience gravitate to you and buy from you.
Often, my job is reflecting back the very best of your work and using that as the starting point of our PR and marketing strategy. I love that I get to do that.
And now our website reflects what we do best.
So let’s get back to the site changes!
Two of the biggest changes you’ll see are the on the new consulting page and in our lead magnet.
On the consulting page, you can see the full breadth of our services.
We can help you with message development, getting an internal PR program up-and-running (probably my favorite thing to do), writing content, social media and media outreach.
For some clients, we even serve as the one-stop-shop for all your marketing efforts. You can outsource your marketing to B, and we’ll hire on the right team to manage all the work for you.
For a preview of our approach, you can also sign up for a new free email series on differentiating your brand in any market.
When you sign up, you get daily emails that guide you through the process I use to help my clients differentiate their brands.
I’m excited to share this with you, because the new optin gift gets to the very heart of our work. My hope is that you get a lot of value from this process and are able to better understand what draws your ideal customers to you.
There’s more to see, like new testimonials on the home page, but I’ll leave you to explore on your own.
Thank you so much for coming by today, and I do hope you’ll sign up for the new free email series, which you can also find in the footer just below this post.
Ps. I also want to thank Shelly Waldman, who staged and shot the photo on the home page and blog sidebar.
Most of the small business owners I work with have one thing in common — you’re not in it just for the money. You’re also strongly motivated by the desire to create work that feels personally fulfilling and has a positive impact on the world.
But the more success you create, the more you can feel tempted to make small compromises around the message you want to put out in the world. The last thing you want to do is alienate the customers you’ve worked so hard to attract.
I’m here today to make the case that this kind of thinking is actually counter-productive. If social impact matters to you, there are some real benefits to incorporating your mission into your business.
1. The road to mediocrity is littered with small compromises.
Another thing my clients have in common is they want to be known for something. Typically that takes the form of the go-to expert in your field, or a sought-after product designer.
It’s next to impossible to get known without staking out a clear and defined position in the marketplace.
Let’s face it — there aren’t huge innovations in how much of our work gets done. This is true for your industry and for mine. No single publicist has some magical method that’s going to guarantee you better results than what I, or the thousands of other firms and independents out there, can get you.
When you think too hard on this fact, it can feel overwhelming. How are your supposed to stand out when thousands of other companies are perfectly capable, if not brilliant, at the work you both do?
For a lot of my clients, it comes to their positioning in the marketplace. It’s not always the work product that gets you hired over the other company. It’s a sense of shared values, or a strong point-of-view, or some small difference in the way you serve your customers. Sometimes it simply comes down to branding — a customer likes your style.
When you start to compromise your dedication to impact, you’re eliminating one strong avenue for creating a market positioning that’s all your own.
2. It gives your brand evangelists something to talk about.
We’ve known for a long time now that Millennials integrate their beliefs into their buying decisions. Well guess what. The Millennials are all grown up. They make up a solid quarter of the US population and they have tremendous purchasing power.
I bring up the Millennials not to say you should be marketing to them, but to show you that a huge portion of the buying consumers in the population make buying decisions at least in part based on shared values.
At no time have we seen greater evidence for how much this matters than in the current election cycle. From the CEO of Penzeys Spices accusing the Republican party of embracing racism to the politically charged Super Bowl commercials, even large, established brands know that their customers expect them to take a stand.
If you believe the Penzeys CEO, this gamble can pay off financially in a big way. But beyond that, putting your company’s values out there gives your fans something to talk about and share. It’s an excellent way to mobilize them to share your company with their larger networks.
3. It’s a time-tested way to generate PR.
Similar to giving your fans something to talk about, being vocal around a hot-button issue gives the media something to talk about. I often hear from clients who donate proceeds to charity and want to get PR for it.
Unfortunately (or happily depending on your perspective!), this is such a common thing that there’s no media value in a story like this. To get press for your advocacy efforts, you need to get creative. And often that means speaking your mind.
Now, this can be risky. Beyond any fear of losing customers or partners you might feel, there’s also a very real risk that the narrative can overshadow the work you do.
I always ask clients, “Is this what you want to be known for?” before they go public with a controversial opinion. Does this value or belief system add to the larger narrative around your company, or distract from it?
But that’s not the only risk I wanted to share with you today.
If you’re going to put social impact front-and-center of your business, you better believe in it. Consumers can sniff out inauthenticity a mile away. In the environmental space, they have a term for companies that are faking their commitment to earth-friendly policies: greenwashing.
If you’re in it for the bottom line, that’s okay! You don’t have to fake a social mission. We can use one of the other techniques to make you stand out in your industry.
Just like another company wouldn’t fake being the first to market with a new technology, you shouldn’t fake a social mission just to get known.
At the end of the day, PR is about helping your audience get to know you. Not spin. Not faking an image. But rather helping the public see what you’re all about.
Why do companies do PR?
I got this question last week in the course I run with Megan Auman, and I realized that you might be wondering the same thing.
A lot of people have this notion that PR is the next step for their business or that it’s something all established businesses do, without really understanding why.
And it’s no wonder! Public relations can run the gamut from media relations to investor relations to internal communications to crisis management.
What do all of these things have in common?
I tend to think of this question in terms of what PR does best, no matter what your business goals are.
PR helps your business engage your audience at every stage of know, like and trust.
Before anyone buys from you, there are three things you need to establish:
First, your audience has to know about your work. If new people aren’t coming to your website or if business leads have dried up, your business isn’t going anywhere.
Second, they need to like what they see. Whether you offer a physical product that people buy based on taste or a service-based business that sells solutions, it’s important that your work is attractive to your buyer.
And third, they won’t buy from you until they can trust that you deliver. This is especially true for businesses that operate online. If your audience doesn’t trust you, game over.
“All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”
– Bob Burg, the Go-Giver
Most of the marketing advice you find online deals with promotion, or the “know” piece of the equation. Social media, link building, SEO and traffic generation strategies are all solutions to the first problem of helping people find your work in the first place.
This is also where I find that most of my clients and students focus their media relations goals. They measure PR results in terms of how much traffic gets generated.
But did you realize that media coverage also makes your business more likable?
The strongest, most powerful sales engine is a referral. We tend to think of referrals mostly in relation to a friend or colleague giving a direct tip. “Check out this web designer I used. She was great!”
But we’re not only influenced by our friends and colleagues.
A referral from a tastemaker can get you to take a second look at a trend or consider a service that you never thought you needed. Magazine coverage, blogger endorsements and well-timed Tweets can not only lead you to know about a business, but prime you to like that business as well.
Which brings us to trust. The same factors that influence whether you’ll like a company or product also give a leg up in the trust factor.
Your favorite bloggers and magazines aren’t out there covering every business. No, they pick and choose who to include in their round-ups, features and profiles.
On some level, we believe in the bloggers and magazine editors we follow. We trust their recommendations to be thought-out and researched. Or else we wouldn’t seek them out.
Your audience does the same. So when they see your company and work covered in their favorite sources, they’re being primed to trust you as a resource.
When you get a media placement, ideally you’re positioning your work and your message in a venue that your audience already knows, likes and trusts. I had a conversation with best-selling author Chris Guillebeau about his book publicity last year, and he values most the coverage that runs on blogs and media outlets that his audience already interacts with. That’s how he knows he’ll reach more of the right people.
This is a very smart way to think about PR. When a member of your target audience finds you covered or referenced on a website they already like and trust, some of those feelings are passed on to your business or brand.
This is what PR does best. One placement can help you get known, be perceived as more likable and earn the trust of a new audience.