Want To Promote Yourself?

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The Secret is that it’s NOT all About You

Sometimes the harshest truths are the most important ones.

In public relations, one of the most important truisms revolves around the primary question that the media asks itself as it evaluates the potential stories it may cover: Who really cares?

They ask that question not out of rudeness, but rather out of a genuine desire to serve their audiences. Now, as consumers of the media, we may argue some of their choices of stories (I’m completely mystified with the media’s fascination with the cast of the Jersey Shore, but that’s just me), but we have to remember that the media’s revenue comes from the size and scope of their audiences. If they believe their audience wants to hear about a particular person or story, you can be assured they’ll cover it.

For someone seeking to promote themselves or their business, this question the media asks themselves, “who really cares,” is absolutely paramount, because it reveals one of the most critical and common pitfalls in the PR business. That is, the idea that promoting yourself should be all about you.

The hard fact is that if the media doesn’t already know who you are, they really don’t care about you. They don’t care about your book, your Web site, your company, your product or just about anything you are selling. Of course, their advertising director would love to sell you time or space, but that’s advertising, not PR.

So the key question becomes, how do you get the media to care about you? The answer is you have to demonstrate to them that your expertise and your message will add value to the lives of their audiences.

Now, a lot of self-help authors will think that should be easy, but it’s not. It’s not so much about the fact that you may have helpful advice to offer, but rather that you have different and more insightful advice than the last person in your field who pitched them for an interview.

What’s more, it’s not just self-help folks who have something to offer. We actually have several clients who have written memoirs whose life experiences offer tremendous value to the media’s audiences. Several were survivors of domestic and child abuse, with one of them having been kidnapped by a family member. Their stories put them in the unique position of offering advice on how to recognize domestic abuse, how to prevent it and even how to make children safer from abduction by estranged parents and even strangers.
In those cases, we received a resounding response from the media to talk to those individuals.

Another one of our clients is Michael Uslan, the executive producer of the Batman franchise of films. His memoir detailed his decade-long battle to get Hollywood to take a serious Batman film, well, seriously. His message of perseverance in the face of ridiculous odds resonates with anyone who has ever had a dream they wanted to fulfill, so the media devoured – and is still devouring – his story.

In each of these cases, the media campaign wasn’t about a book or a product or a person – it was about what each of these people could offer the audience as a result of their experiences and expertise. Their advice, backed up by the power of success or the lessons of defeat, was what attracted the media. They didn’t have interviews or outreach that touted their books or their companies, and they certainly weren’t actively trying to sell people anything. They offered themselves as experts in their fields with something of value for the media’s audience. They didn’t sound like an infomercial pitching a product, nor did they sound like a celebrity on a late night talk show telling people to buy their book or watch their movie.

They offered something of themselves for the benefit of others, which is a great way to earn the trust of those media consumers. More than that, they weren’t trying to promote themselves. And here’s the irony that I love so much about the media – in actively not trying to promote themselves, they actually achieved a greater degree of self-promotion. People listened to them, came to like them and wound up becoming interested in what they had to sell, even though they weren’t actively trying to sell it.

Back to answering the media’s question of “Who really cares?” – the secret is to remember the one driving truth of life in the media. It’s not about you. It’s never about you. It’s always about the audience and what you can do for them.

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