Before my book came out, I was managing my own public relations department. I would read articles by journalists that covered marketing, careers, and technology, and respond to them. I would also pitch the media on relevant topics around personal branding and constantly network.
Looking back at my efforts, I must have appeared like a poor consultant instead of an entrepreneur who owned a business. But PR outreach is extremely important for building your personal brand because third-party endorsements weigh much more than self-promotion. What other people say about your brand, especially large media outlets and influential people, can have a strong impact on how people perceive you in your industry. You can also drive traffic to your website and increase your site’s authority in search engines with good PR.
In business, whether you like it or not, it always looks better if you appear larger than you are. In this case, if you empower someone else to pitch a journalist, you will appear more successful, and therefore, more important. The probability that they will want to speak with you increases because you seem more credible and powerful.
Speaking of power, don’t you think that you would seem like a better source to the media if you empower someone else to be your “middle man?” If the CEO of Ford or GE was handling PR or customer service calls, would the public take them seriously? Probably not. By empowering someone else, you position yourself as someone of greater worth.
Who to empower
You don’t want just anyone speaking on your behalf. For me, it’s my company’s PR manager who emails and calls media outlets, but for you, it could be either someone you hire, or a friend.
- The person must have the following qualifications:
- They must know your business inside and out.
- They must know your strengths, weaknesses, and have a good sense of how you conduct yourself in interviews, through e-mail, phone and in-person
- They must be always connected, through various mediums (social networks, email, phone, etc.) so that they can be available to the press
- They must have very strong managerial skills to control your schedule so that you don’t miss an interview, and so they follow up accordingly
- You must be able to trust them because how they are perceived and how they behave reflects on you as the CEO
What their role should be
A publicist’s role is all-encompassing, depending on the size of your organization. When hiring or working with someone who handles your outbound communications, you should expect that they can get you media placement in a variety of media, as well as book you for events and handle any inbound inquiries. They should be able to take a holistic view of your company and message, and be able to create pitches around it. Then, they need to come up with a targeted media list of reporters, journalists and producers who are relevant to your industry and start pitching them. Then, they need to follow up and try and start booking interviews with you. Finally, they have to manage your schedule, make sure you’re prepared for each interview, and then get a clipping of the article when it’s published.
Dan Schawbel, recognized as a “personal branding guru” by The New York Times, is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, LLC, and the leading authority on personal branding. He is the founder of the Personal Branding Blog, and publisher of Personal Branding Magazine.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.