What's the secret to getting free publicity for your life coaching practice?
It's not a fancy press-kit.
It's not having a superstar spokesperson.
It's not hiring the world's biggest PR firm.
Actually, the ultimate insider secret that will ensure you get free publicity is quite simple:
Of course, this is a podium place winner in the 'easier said than done' Olympics!
Most of us are too tied-up in our own world to really look at our businesses objectively and come up with a newsworthy story angle that can lead us to get free publicity.
That's why millions of trees are needlessly felled each year to produce press releases that will never lead to a single news story.
Reporters have a special place in their circular files for puffery, flackery and hyperbole. If you want to avoid this fate, then you must learn to think like a reporter.
OK, so now we've sensed the holy grail. Let's get to work on finding it!
You own a website.
Let's say it's called LifeCoach.com.
It could be any website or business for that matter. As you'll soon see, Publicity
Insider techniques can be applied to just about any business.
Your goal is to get your website featured in newspapers, magazines, publications and influencer blogs around the country.
Here are some truths that you ignore at your own risk (where we use the term 'reporter' this could also mean 'blog owner' or 'publisher':
In that case:
So what's the bottom line here?
When you design your public relations campaign, develop your angles, develop your media materials and begin contacting the press, always think:
"What can I do at this step that will make this more useful to a journalist?"
Have you ever met someone who has become way too absorbed in his own hobby?
He can go on for hours about his model trains or his coin collection. He can't possibly imagine why you, or anyone else, wouldn't be absolutely riveted by his in-depth discussion of 19th century Peruvian coinage.
You see, he's far too 'close' to his hobby to be objective about it.
As it turns out, most business owners are the same way about their own businesses.
If you spend all day, absorbed in the world of life coaching, or golf accessories, or health insurance, or any other field for that matter, you can lose sight of the realisation that most of the rest of the world doesn't really care much.
Let's consider a hypothetical situation between a business owner called John and a reporter called Janet. This is how a conversation might go:
"Janet, we've just released the all new X251 Gizmo and I think we should really push this hard to the media with a PR campaign. How about setting up a press conference?"
"Well, John, how is the X251 different from the previous X250?"
"It's got a new right-angled flange and it's blue. I'm telling you, this is going to be big!"
Janet's eyes glaze over and she yawns.
If John really wants to catch her attention he needs to ...
... think like a reporter.
John needs to ask himself:
Does this new right-angle flange give the X251 a use that
the X250 didn't have? One that would make a significant difference in people's
lives? Does the new blue color serve any purpose, or is just to improve looks?
Who knows, maybe it turns out that the right angled flange allowed the X251 to be used in third world hospitals at a fraction of the cost of what they were using now. Maybe the blue color was to prevent endangered birds from bumping into it when it's used in the rainforest.
(As you can tell, the X251 Gizmo is a
complete figment of our overactive imaginations!)
The point is that John needs to come up with a generally compelling story and not just a promotional PR pitch based on the subject of his fascination.
You MUST do the same when it comes time to develop your main publicity angle.
Step away from your life coaching practice for a moment.
Now adopt a different perspective.
View it as a reporter looking for an interesting story.
Remember, the reporter is looking for a story that will satisfy his editor and his readers. He's not interested in promoting you, only in crafting a story that will make readers stop and say "Hmmm, how fascinating. I never knew that. Now there's something I can use."
With that in mind, let's look at the example of LifeCoach.com.
There are probably hundreds of sites in the Internet that sell Coaching services. So, simply announcing that there's a new practice offering Life Coaching Services will achieve little.
You need to break down your current attributes, and determine if you have anything that's newsworthy.
Here's a way of looking at it that may be useful: for every attribute, try to honestly rate it's news value. Use these categories:
NO DICE - Too common, too promotional, too boring.
INSIDE STUFF - May be newsworthy within my own field (trade publications) or to hardcore customers (serious coaching junkies) but not attractive enough to the general population to build a story.
GETTING THERE - Potentially of interest, but not quite meaty enough.
STOP THE PRESSES! - Meaty, hearty news that journalists eat up.
OK, let's look at some of what you think makes LifeCoach.com special (this is a very important step. When making a list of what makes you special, take the time to get it right. What you say here can be mined for gold, as you'll soon see):
Low fees. NO DICE. Too common and will probably be viewed as promotional puffery.
Great service. NO DICE. Ditto.
Many different coaching niches. NO DICE. Ditto.
You specialize in weight-loss coaching and books. INSIDE STUFF. Decent topic but is there enough there to build a great story?
You specialise in coaching that promotes a healthy lifestyle for teenagers. GETTING THERE. Now you're standing out a bit.
You started the practice with money you stole from a pension fund. STOP THE PRESSES!
OK, the last one was a joke but it does demonstrate the gulf between what you think is newsworthy and what a reporter might think is newsworthy!
So, what have we got to work with? Three NO DICES, an INSIDE STUFF and a GETTING THERE.
Not too bad – we might just have enough to build a public
relations campaign around. Let's see.
Just putting out a press release saying you have low prices won't get you anywhere. But what if there was something special about those low fees?
Maybe you give huge discounts to child care centers and care workers. Maybe you provide life coaching at cost to health clinics in poor neighborhoods. Maybe you provide a big discount on life coaching to disabled people?
These are all angles you can publicize. They take a worn out angle and make it fresh. Take advantage of programmes you already have in place, or create new programmes to provide publicity opportunities for a public relations campaign.
If great service means you're nice on the phone, it ain't gonna work. But perhaps you go above and beyond the call to serve your customers. Remember that Saturn commercial in which service engineers flew to a remote place in Alaska to fix a customer's car? That was a graphic example of this sort of angle. Now, you probably don't have anything so extreme to tell, but perhaps you do something no competitor would be willing to do. Or perhaps you should.
Being all things to all people won't turn this into a news angle. But if you have some special training that no one else does – and that allows you to offer something few others can – you might be on to something.
Which leads us to....
If there's something special about the way you help people lose weight, you might have a story. Let's say you have developed a unique method of helping people re-programme their minds so that they lose weight 22% faster. That’s newsworthy (if you can prove it.
This is interesting, because it starts getting into issues which can get you into a newspaper's Lifestyle section. Now, just specialising in stuff for teens won't be enough. You need to find a way to make this commitment come to life, in a non-promotional way.
Some years ago, the solution to the above problem would have been
hard to come by, and probably expensive. Maybe a media tour, maybe
sponsoring a teen pop act, maybe paying big bucks for a survey of teens
about their eating habits.
Now, thanks to the Internet, you can easily and simply use your website to position your story angle for mass newsworthy appeal.
The answer is to design parts of your website to promote a newsworthy element to your story. Message boards, chat rooms, surveys, feedback pages and so on, can all lead to publicity.
Is a leading health guru willing to be a guest at a chat sessions for teenagers? Did an online survey you conducted about kids' favorite foods or belief systems, offer some interesting revelations?
These, and other offshoots of newsworthy
elements on your site, can provide the basis for outstanding publicity
Let's say you come up with a perfect solution ...
You'll create an online forum for teenagers to discuss health issues, self esteem issues, exercise and more.
Now, simply creating the forum and offering a place for teens to go may be enough to get you some press. But it's still a little vague, and there are probably other similar ideas like this around.
Let's sharpen this idea and make it
Go back to your attribute list. What can you combine to create a tighter, more specific angle?
How about this. You specialise in weight-loss coaching. You also specialise in serving teenagers.
Your forum should be about teenagers and weight issues. Your health guru chat sessions should be about teens and their weight. Your survey should be on the subject, too.
Now you've got something! With this approach, you can have a number of solid newsworthy topics:
See what's happened?
Your ordinary little life coaching website has been turned into a news angle machine! And you've become a spokesperson, looking out for teenagers by giving them a place to seek out information, choose from safe products or just vent their frustrations.
A story about helping overweight kids cope with ridicule, based
on discussions that have taken place in your forum, is a natural for a 'Lifestyle' section of a newspaper!