We've all asked ourselves this question: "What would I have done differently if I knew then what I know now?" Imagine the companies you'd invest in, or the opportunities you'd have pursued.
Hindsight is always 20/20, of course. But a successful PR campaign is all about making bold moves today, not about waiting and seeing how things pan out first. Generally speaking, journalists don't want to hear about a great thing you did months after the fact, or after hearing about something just as good from a competitor.
That's why it's so important to understand where you fit within your industry. This knowledge will tell you how to position yourself to your audience when you have something to say, and when it's time to make your move.
It's especially critical now. Given the recent economic turmoil, some larger companies have been distracted with financial results or internal matters. This is something that smaller, nimbler organizations can use to their advantage when looking to get media coverage.
Start by playing to your strengths. First, hold your organization up against the backdrop of your industry. Are you growing at a time when competitors are still shrinking? Do you have a unique angle on a product or service that the bigger (and more bruised) competitors lack, and that bodes well for the future? Now is the time to speak up. Reporters are always on the lookout for success stories, but especially those from within industries widely perceived as troubled - think automotive or tourism.
You can also try falling back on your résumé. Perhaps you're an industry veteran who has spent years working at the bigger industry leaders, and now you're on your own. Use that experience to your advantage. Your insights automatically position you as an industry spokesperson and will carry more weight with reporters than the opinions of someone who is fresh on the scene, especially if you've lived through other recessions.
Maybe you're one of those lucky few who avoided being hit by the recession altogether. Why not extend your luck a bit further and brag a bit to a reporter? This is even more effective if your business is truly offbeat or niche, or operates out of public view.
I've also met a few incredible entrepreneurs who came this close to losing everything over the past 18 months, but who, through a sudden flash of insight or hard work, not only muddled through but actually revived their business. This is definitely the type of person a business reporter wants to hear about.
Just remember the best practices I've been discussing since day one: Sell your story, not just you or your product. Ask yourself the question "so what?" before engaging a journalist. Yes, your business may be doing well, but millions of small businesses in Canada might say the same, so step back. What does your story mean in the context of your industry as it stands today, and where it's going? Making it into something bigger will help your chances of getting attention from a reporter who hears lots of pitches every day.
Regardless, don't sit on a good story that's begging to be told. Wait too long and you'll either let someone else steal your thunder or miss out on a great opportunity to raise the profile of your business.
You'll also end up with one more thing you'd do differently years down the road.