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It just sort of happened... (a lesson in PR)Views: 258
Apr 14, 2007 4:07 am It just sort of happened... (a lesson in PR)

Denise Michaels
I realize I haven't been around much this week.

I have no idea why - but for some reason this past Monday morning I woke up at 4:00 am. Sheesh! Not wanting to toss and turn and wake up my husband - I got up, went to another room and clicked on the TV. Ernie must've been watching MSNBC the night before because there on the tube was a very contrite Don Imus (broadcasting legend) apologizing - for saying something stupid. What? I realized something was going on but I didn't understand the context (I wasn't watching news over the weekend) and after all - it was 4:15 am. I'm a morning person - but not THAT much.

Anyway, bit by bit I started to cobble the story together and make sense of what had taken place a few days ago. Imus, a guy I've always seen as the poster child for misogyny anyway, called the NCAA Women's basketball champ contenders "nappy-headed hos." And unless you've been living in a cave this week - you're aware of the rest of the story and the fact that he's been unceremoniously dumped by MSNBC first and then CBS Radio for that transgression.

Now, every once in awhile I get riveted to a story. Last time it was hurricane Katrina. I couldn't stop watching the news coverage. It was totally compelling - a human drama unfolding.

Every once in awhile it pays off.

Like a couple years ago I got caught up in an unfolding story while I was out of town. Funny thing. When I heard the story the second time Ernie and I were driving home from San Diego - a seven hour drive. And it clicked with me - there was a real parallel between this story and my book. I made a phone call to my assistant and asked her to call me back with what the headlines were saying on the major news websites. Fifteen minutes later she called me back and read the transcript of a news conference and bits and pieces of a few other articles. I took notes on a legal pad as Ernie drove.

I pulled my laptop out of the backseat and as Ernie drove I wrote a media release. When I got home I figured out how to upload it to WebPR.com and sat back and waited. That media release got me an article in a nationally circulated business magazine and an appearance on a local talk show here in Las Vegas. Not bad.

So, Tuesday afternoon I was watching the Imus story coverage unfold and someone was interviewing Al Sharpton *me rolling eyes*. The interviewer asked him, "What do you think are the long term effects on women who are subjected to degrading comments and insults?"

Sharpton replied, "I don't know. Maybe you should ask a psychologist or an expert."

Bingo!

I'm not a psychologist - but I can speak pretty authoritatively - and have - on just that topic. Why? Because the women I mentor - when we really get down to the roots of why she's reticent to be more "out there" with marketing her business - it usually comes down to having heard a steady diet of insulting and degrading comments. I've heard it hundred, actually thousands of times.

No, I don't believe one stray comment from a shock jock is going to destroy any one's life - but I can speak to the topic because I deal every day in my mentoring practise with women who have had that long term impact - holding back - lack of confidence - and it impacts the success (or lack thereof) of their businesses every day.

I'd love to say I jumped right on it and wrote a media release and that I'm flying to Chicago over the weekend to be on Oprah next week. Nope. I mulled. I kept questioning - do I really have something to say here?

I posted on my network about the Imus situation and started seeing what other women business owners on my network thought. Quite a lively discussion. Right now that thread is at 30 posts and about 350 views. And I kept clicking back and forth between the TV news networks. Riveted.

Wednesday I was in meetings all day. That afternoon I had an opportunity to brainstorm some ideas with a woman who's business is writing. She gave me some good insights - parallels to draw between sports and business. Good stuff. I told her I wanted it to end on a positive note - focusing on solutions not whining about the problem.

Wednesday evening I was finished with my last mentoring call at about 8:30 pm - and I started writing. I'd stop and start - and then delete stuff. It took me awhile to hit on the words that pulled everything together in a compelling, cause and effect way so my book (and my expertise) became the logical conclusion.

I've been writing media releases since age 17, btw - and my second one made the front page of the Detroit Free Press. I've gotten a lot of media exposure for myself and for clients I've worked with over the years.

Finally, bleary-eyed at 2:00 am I had to stop. I thought I'd put together a pretty darn good release - but I wanted to check it over again in the morning after getting some shuteye.

Yesterday morning (Thursday) after getting back from my workout and breakfast I checked it over again and uploaded it to WebPR. It's not free, btw. My release cost me $200. - but it's a pittance if I get some decent exposure for my site and my book. Also, it won't be posted there and sent out until tomorrow (Saturday). So there is a delay time of about two days.

Anyway, if you'd benefit from getting media exposure for your business - pay attention to the big stories breaking in the national news. The ones that have legs (staying power). If you had the opportunity to be in the middle in some beneficial way - would there be some piece you could add to the discussion that hasn't been brought out yet? In the parlance of media releases - that's known as a "hook" or an "angle."

Even if you think what you offer doesn't have that "ripped from the headlines" cache like Paris Hilton's latest boyfriend or bling-bling - there can be very positive ways to weave a media release around a hot story in the news and your product or service.

Did you know fully 75-80 percent of the stories in the news originate with a media release? It's true. The days of investigative reporters like Woodward and Bernstein running around in parking garages at 3:00 am looking for shadowy figures with names like "Deep Throat" have largely gone the way of the dodo bird.

The media needs stories. They have to operate much leaner and meaner than in those halycon days. And Jay Conrad Levinson, author of the multi-million selling "Guerrilla Marketing" books says that "PR (public relations) can be the secret key to small business success."

Oh, and btw, if you're clueless about how to write a media release there are books on the topic. My favorite book on how to do a full-fledged media campaign (more corporate style) is titled "Full Frontal PR" by Richard Laermer. If you'd like just some good, solid info on writing a media release - send me a PM, include your email address and I'll send you a great special report I wrote a few years ago on how to write a great media release and how to get it out to the media.

I'm not selling anything and I won't put you on any lists. I promise. But be sure to to include your email address - or I'll ignore your PM. The report is 20 pages long - and I won't copy and paste it into a private message. I'll be out of town and probably offline over the weekend - but I'll send it to you when I get back.

All the best,

Denise Michaels
Author, "Testosterone-Free Marketing"

Visit me online at http://www.MentoringwithDenise.com

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