Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with James Oliver, Jr, Owner, WeMontage (@WeMontage). James Oliver, Jr. is co-founder of the world’s cutest twins, and CEO of WeMontage.com, the world’s only website that lets you turn your fave photos into a large custom collage, on removable wallpaper. James is also a parent entrepreneur advocate via his blog at www.treplifedad.com, an alum of the tech startup accelerator, gener8tor.com, and is a contributing author for SheKnows media and GoDaddy’s small business blog, The Garage.
SmallBizLady: WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF PR?
James Oliver, Jr: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries says it best: PR is a powerful way to position a brand in consumers’ minds. While that book is over ten years old and the Immutable Laws may now be mutable, that still feels relevant to me today. Consumers are bombarded with marketing messages everywhere in a myriad of places, getting through the noise is hard. A PR hit from credible media aimed at your target audience can positively impact your brand/product awareness and sales.
SmallBizLady: SHOULD YOU PREPARE TO HANDLE INCREASED DEMAND FROM PR?
James Oliver, Jr.: YES! Before our feature on the TODAY show in 2014, I prepped an error page to apologize for outages http://cl.ly/3E032U0g003X #SmallBizChat. We were only down for 90 seconds. But I spent HOURS getting back to all who used the instructions on the error page. I got smarter for the second TODAY Show appearance. We reconfigured our servers and thankfully, the site didn’t crash. Here’s a link to the second TODAY Show segment: https://youtu.be/1vl1P201e_8.
SmallBizLady: SHOULD YOU WORK WITH A PR REP OR DO IT YOURSELF?
James Oliver, Jr.: Publicists can be VERY expensive, and not all are the same. Make sure they have tons of contacts relevant to media you want. You CAN hustle for PR on your own. That’s how I got the TODAY show, DIY Network, MarthaStewart.com, USA Today, and others. For $65/mo, I use justreachout.io; You can find articles relevant to your interests and the name/contact info writers. And justreachout.io helps with templates for writing appropriate emails to reporters.
SmallBizLady: DOES PR WORK?
James Oliver, Jr.: YES! 20% of my sales have come directly from PR. To me, that’s uncomfortably high, but that’s a separate business issue.
SmallBizLady: IS ALL PR THE SAME?
James Oliver, Jr.: No. Some PR hits drive traffic & sales. Some, traffic only. Some, neither. You never know for sure which will work for business. I heard about a guy who spent thousands on inventory before a National morning show feature. And got NO sales from it. Ouch! Try to have a reasonable plan to manage increased sales. But don’t get burned, if things don’t go as you hoped.
SmallBizLady: HOW DO YOU FIGURE OUT WHO TO PITCH FOR COVERAGE?
James Oliver, Jr.: Use tools that tell you who is writing articles relevant to your business industry. It’s a small investment to build your brand. I mentioned justreachout.io, which is $65/month – Which is a small price to pay if you get a few nice PR hits and more sales.
SmallBizLady: HOW DO YOU PITCH WRITERS/REPORTERS ONCE YOU FIND THEM?
James Oliver, Jr.: Email is the best since they hate getting phone calls. Knowing how to write cold emails is critical! Here’s how a cold email got my business featured on Cnet.com, which led to sales http://treplifedad.com/grinding/how-a-cold-email-got-my-company-featured-on-cnet-com.
SmallBizLady: HOW CAN YOU USE YOUR NETWORK TO GET PR?
James Oliver, Jr.: Over the holidays, I reached out to a wonderful group of bloggers in a Facebook group and 5 featured my business on their blog. I used LinkedIn to get introduced to someone who wrote about us on MarthaStewart.com said, ”WeMon
SmallBizLady: CAN AFFILIATE MARKETING HELP GET PR?
James Oliver, Jr.: Yes! Affiliates will write articles about your business on their blog for a chance to make money when people buy from you. I had an affiliate write an article on my business, which a producer for the DIY Network show, “I Want That” then discovered! The producer contacted me and they did a feature of my business, which has aired several times. When it airs, I make sales.
SmallBizLady: DOES GETTING EXPOSURE FROM BLOGGERS HELP?
Dozens of bloggers have written about my business and we have gotten some sales from it. How well it works really depends. The exception is the affiliate post that landed us a feature on the DIY Network; I got lots of sales from that blog post.
SmallBizLady: SHOULD YOU RELY ONLY ON PR TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS?
James Oliver, Jr.: No. You should not rely on PR. If you get a few nice hits, you could get sales. But those are likely not sustainable. And PR is completely unpredictable as to whether or not it will happen – so much is out of your control. If the hit happens in the wrong place or if the outlet doesn’t share on social media, it’s possible no one will see it. There is so much uncertainty around PR, but you should try to do it because of the product/brand awareness it can create.
SmallBizLady: HOW DO YOU LEVERAGE INCREASED TRAFFIC FROM A GOOD PR HIT?
James Oliver, Jr.:
Make sure you have a way to get website visitors into your sales funnel when you get a nice PR hit. Collect email addresses and follow up using tools like Sumo Me (https://sumome.com/).
Collect email addresses and follow up. I use GetDrip.com to incentivize visitors to give me their email address, and I send a series of emails to convert them. Once the Get Drip users create an account, I use intercom.io to send another series of emails, which also helps convert. Intercom.io allows real-time chat with site visitors; a tremendous way to convert visitors to customers.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter. Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/1hZeIlz
For more tips on how to start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.