A lot of people are scared right now.
I’ve been open about the fact that I did not vote for Trump, and I don’t support his policies around the wall, immigration, or the Muslim ban. But that’s not what I’m writing about.
Today I want to talk to you about the conversations I’ve been having with other business owners around the news coming out of the White House.
From calls to boycott U.S. businesses to concerned citizens feeling they can’t or shouldn’t promote their work to anecdotal evidence that customers are slower to buy programs or products, many business owners are feeling like their position in the economy is precarious.
Embedded in these conversations are questions like, “Is it okay to post my product to Instagram when there’s a refugee ban in effect?” or “How can I go ahead with my offer with everything that’s happening?”
That’s what I want to cover today, because I’m in a unique position to weigh in on these conversations. My job is helping you communicate with your audience, and my background is in public affairs and crisis PR. Thinking through thorny communication challenges is precisely the work I’m trained to do.
I pulled together some of the questions and concerns that have been coming up the most in the past few days, so I can share with you how I approach these questions from a PR perspective.
First the biggie:
Should I respond to what’s going on, or do I ignore it and carry on as usual?
There are two aspects to this question: your personal values as an individual, and the values and desires of your audience. As an individual, you may or may not feel called to comment on what’s going on. I obviously can’t counsel you on that.
But no matter where you stand, you should also take into consideration what your audience wants and expects from your business. Different audience segments will respond differently to both public proclamations or silence. It’s easy to think that staying about the fray is the neutral choice, but that’s not always the case.
Let me give you examples on the opposite ends of the spectrum to help you think through this.
If you run an advocacy organization in the U.S., it would clearly be wrong not to comment on executive orders with such sweeping implications, because presumably helping your audience respond to events like these is part of your mission. I think we can all agree on that.
On the flip side, I follow a couple of makeup bloggers (don’t judge me!), and their content hasn’t referenced the election at all. I can appreciate that decision — no matter where these bloggers stand on the issues, they know their audience can get that info elsewhere and still enjoys their tutorials.
It makes sense that these blogs stay on mission, no matter what their personal positions are.
But many of our businesses are somewhere in the middle, especially when you get into the coaching or wellness arenas. Or even art, in many cases.
In making the decision on whether you want to use your business as a forum to speak out about world events, look to your audience.
If you’re connected to your audience through social media, it’s easy to tell right now how people are feeling.
Are your customers complaining about companies who in their orbit who aren’t taking a stand? If the answer is yes, you should probably say something — even if only to post something that acknowledges how people are feeling right now. It doesn’t have to be a partisan or political statement.
On the other hand, if your audience is saying, “Get over it,” think twice before posting a political message right now.
You do no one any good be jeopardizing your economic livelihood — and you’re not going to change any hearts or minds by posting how you feel to your business’s Facebook account.
There are other ways you can contribute to the resistance. Donate proceeds to the ACLU. Go to marches. Call your Congresspeople.
I’ve long felt like John Mackey, co-founder of Whole Foods and noted Libertarian, is laughing his way to the bank as he takes all that income from liberals and donates it to Republicans and Libertarians. This could be your form of protest.
Does this answer change if I don’t want to work with people who think the wall, deportations, etc are a good idea?
To me, the best part of running a business is that you get to choose who you want to work with. Never believe people who tell you otherwise.
The key to working with clients who are in alignment with your values is to be vocal about those values.
This is the push-pull of communications. The way you choose your customers is by deliberately using language, examples and content that turns off the people you don’t want to serve and attracts those you do.
It’s actually why I decided to share. If a Trump supporter reads this and decides I’m not right for them, I’m 100% okay with that. I get to choose who I help through the art of PR, and I choose to help people whose values and mission are aligned with mine.
If you’re not in a position where you can be turning work away, then what I’d encourage you to do is start a slow transition through the rest of your messaging. What can you do to signal to your audience a little bit more about your values?
I feel weird about posting product or happy images to social media right now. Should I stop?
When I woke up on Saturday, I saw a few launches announced on Instagram. And you know what, this didn’t bother me at all.
Some had been vocal about their beliefs, so I knew where they stood. Others had never posted anything, and I didn’t fault them for continuing to run their businesses.
But that’s just me.
This is another area where you should think of your customer. How does she feel?
If you’re not sure, it can be useful to delay, instead of cancel, your scheduled content.
Was a shocking announcement just made that will affect thousands of people? Maybe wait a day or two to post about your product in development.
Is your audience in mourning on social media? Can you post something that feels appropriate to that tone, even if you don’t feel the same way?
One last thing as you think through these questions. It’s important to remember that your audience is looking to your company for ideas and insight, and if you delve too deeply into politics you could distract from that mission.
What do you want to be known for? What role, if any, does responding to the Trump administration or world events play in that?
I know you might have questions about applying these tips to your own business, or very specific concerns I didn’t address here.
I’ve been thinking about how I could help with that.
I’ve opened up a series of 6 mini-sessions on my schedule this Wednesday for people who want to talk through if and how your business should respond to the Trump administration.
I know this offer isn’t relevant to everyone, but I wanted to make myself available for people in that murky middle ground.
Each session is 30-minutes long and costs $150. Not only will I donate 100% of the proceeds from these sessions to the ACLU, I will personally match them 1:1.
To make that clear, when you schedule a 30-minute session, I will donate your payment of $150 to the ACLU and match it with my own donation of $150.
Please note that these sessions are limited to questions and conversations around communicating in the midst of the political turmoil in the U.S. and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
If this is something that would be helpful for you, click here to sign up. You will first be able to reserve 30 minutes on my schedule this Wednesday (February 1) and then you will be directed to make the payment.
And if you have a question you’d like me to address in a future blog post, please hit me up on Twitter.
When I counsel an entrepreneur or wellness professional to go after their own PR, I encounter a lot of resistance.
A lot of people would rather save up to have me do their PR (and wait) then get started with their own program.
This is a real shame, because it often makes more sense to keep PR in-house than to outsource it, and you can also grow faster if you’re making media part of your promo plan from the start.
There is absolutely no reason to hold yourself back or to wait until you’re already well-known to get PR.
So that’s why I’m beyond thrilled to share DaKari (Doc) Williams’ story with you.
Doc first approached me last year to let me know my CreativeLive class completely changed his business (his words, not mine). He went on to tell me a remarkable story of how he turned his business around using PR as a catalyst that created one success after another.
Today, Doc is a paid contributor to ESPN.com, writes for Breaking Muscle and has leveraged his heightened name recognition into a branding agency for athletes.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg — click here to get the full story.
I’m not gonna lie. I teared up a little when Doc first shared his story. In no way am I trying to take credit for his success — it was all his work, his effort — but it feels amazing to know my teaching gave him tools he could use to such effect.
I’m sharing this with you today, because I want you to know:
If you’ve put off PR for “some day”…
If you’re feeling stuck…
If you don’t feel like the status quo is working…
As you consider the special year-end bundle that includes the Blog Boost and Press Push, I wanted to give some more context as to who we’ve created these programs for.
Both are created with a similar goal in mind: to remove the barriers that are stopping you from sharing your work on the regular.
There are a million reasons why you don’t blog more frequently or do PR. Some of these reasons are related to process, especially in PR, but most of them are psychological blocks that are holding you back.
You’re scared of alienating people, whether it’s the audience you already have or your favorite blogger. You don’t want to say the wrong thing, break any hidden etiquette rules you don’t know about, and you certainly don’t want to bother people.
What I learned in my PR agency days is that the only way to get past this discomfort is to do the work.
Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action.
You don’t have to wait to be confident.
Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.
* * * Carrie Fisher * * *
Because what you will find is that your world will not come crashing down if an editor doesn’t reply to your email, and that any reluctance you feel to put yourself out there is far outshone by the feeling you get when your favorite magazine decides to pull your product or interview you for an article they’re writing.
The reason it feels so impossible to promote your work now, whether it’s on your blog or through media outreach, is that you haven’t been doing it with any regularity. When sharing your work and ideas becomes a habit, it doesn’t matter that one particular post didn’t take off with your audience, because you know that next week is another opportunity to connect with them. It’s okay if that website didn’t accept your contribution, because you haven’t put all your eggs in one basket.
The more you share, the lower the stakes for each individual post or pitch become.
This is the mindset Megan and I want to instill in you through the Blog Boost and the Press Push. That sharing your work and ideas regularly are an essential part of running your business, and they’re not a big deal. There’s nothing to dread or worry about, because promoting your work is as natural as breathing.
Now, we might not quite get you there in a 6-week course, but we hope to instill in you the habits and a safe environment for asking questions and trying new things so that you can get much closer to this ideal.
So back to the question — are these programs for you?
If you’re already confident in sharing your ideas on your blog at least once a week and have had success in pitching bloggers and magazine editors, you probably don’t need to take advantage of this bundle. The only reason you might is if you’ve let your good habits slide and want the extra accountability of getting topics (Blog Boost) and pitch angles (Press Push) from Megan and me within a structured program.
The accountability and emphasis on action over planning is the #1 benefit of our Blog Boost and Press Push programs. If you need a little extra nudge to follow through on your marketing commitments, these programs are an outstanding opportunity to get support.
If you feel doubts about the value of your content (does anyone care?), or have a hard time following through on your plans, then this bundle is a wonderful option for you. Megan and I are committed, caring teachers, and we are very invested in getting you to take action each week.
But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what Jill Maldonado had to say after going through the Press Push this summer:
“Worth the price of the course alone, was the ability to participate in the Facebook group. I watched your feedback on other people’s assignments and learned a TON from that. Much gratitude for your generosity of spirit!”