A new question you should ask reporters

Add a new question to your checklist when you’re interviewed by reporters–or risk an unpleasant surprise in the world of Web 2.0.

Ask “Is this just for your personal use?” when a reporter asks to record your telephone interview. As publications add podcasts to their websites, this question increasingly makes sense. It’ll prevent you from being surprised by your voice on a podcast. A good reporter won’t spring a podcast on you by surprise. But it can’t hurt to confirm the purpose of a recording.

So far I’ve only recorded interviews to help when I can’t take notes fast enough. Sometimes I’ll replay parts of the recording to check facts or quotes. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if some day I record a podcast for one of my trade publication or corporate clients. I’ve already been interviewed for a podcast by Russ Thornton and Lawain McNeil of AdvisorBlogger. It felt funny being the person who answered questions, but I had fun.

Worth magazine relaunches

What’s up with Worth magazine?
It’s going to relaunch in May with an even more exclusive readership than before. To receive a free subscription, a household must “have a minimum net worth of $2 million, have at least $1 million of equity in their main residence and live in one of 11 major markets, including New York, Boston and San Francisco,” according to an article in Advertising Age.

"Media Opportunities Are There for the Asking. Choose Your Niche."– guest post by Lisbeth Wiley Chapman

With more than 20 years of industry experience, Lisbeth Wiley Chapman of Ink &Air knows how to get national exposure for financial advisors. Her MediaStar newsletter  features practical tips that’ll also boost your visibility. Here’s her guest post on “Media Opportunities Are There for the Asking.  Choose Your Niche.”

Advisors often dream of a client list full of like-minded people such as wooden boat enthusiasts, Ford Mustang collectors, or fellow Triathlon competitors.

Or they covet a regular column in a publication for a vertical market — all the dry cleaners in the U.S., contractors in New Jersey, or all the civil engineering firms in New England.  Every group mentioned above has a publication.  You can access that publication.  It takes effort and time, but not money.

Just Ask!
You might be amazed at the results.

Here are four case studies of unlikely successes where advisors were able to get invitations to write for target market audiences in athletic and trade publications.  One caveat:  most opportunities in an economic downturn will be in a web-based publication.  Don’t let that dissuade you.  You are still being presented to an audience of readers as an expert and you can easily send your clients a URL to access your clip.  It’s your job and it’s easy to make sure your clients, prospects and centers of influence know you were a trusted expert and served as a source.

We’ll call him John Jones, the advisor I met at a meeting of financial advisors. He wanted to be the financial advisor of choice of all the construction companies in New Jersey.  he wrote the editor of the largest trade newspaper for contractors and suggested a column.  They said yes, and the rest is history.  His practice is made up almost entirely of owners of construction companies, large and small and his column did generate referrals.

How Can You Find More Clients Who Fit Your Profile?
Replicate your best ones.

Anne Barry, a client of Ink&Air, who consulted to small and medium 401(k) plans, wanted to multiply her best client, a civil engineering firm.  “They have a lot of chiefs and some Indians, and their 401(k) plans are relatively rich.  I called the editor of Civil Engineering Magazine, and he said he would never run a story about sorting through competitive 401(k) proposals in his magazine, which focused solely on the technical aspects of civil engineering.  As I was politely thanking him, he said, “But, our sister publication Management Engineering, would be very interested.  Here’s the editor’s number.  My client was able to get a full-page story and picture about what to look for when comparing 401(k) plan proposals.  Who knew?

Don’t Believe the Experts.
Nothing is Impossible!

Jeff White heard me speak at the FPA national conference last fall and corrected me during my talk.  He said it was not “nearly impossible” to get small newspapers to run financial advice stories, and that he had done this successfully with 10 or 12 weekly newspapers in a New England state.  I had indicated during my talk that such publications did not have the space for personal finance and rarely covered it.  The advisor produced columns and sent five to eight at a time.  He made it entirely up to the publication as to when and whether he got his fully attributed columns into the newspapers and frequently there was space and his information ran.  He did get referrals from this effort.  Don’t believe me, try it and see.

Follow Your Passion to Clients You Know, Like and Understand
But you have to ask for the opportunity…

Following your passion makes sense.  Ben Perry is  a financial advisor and triathlete who told me that his dream clientele would be other athletes who participate in triathlons.  I Googled “Triathlete Publications” and got a mish-mash of state-specific running publications.  I called one and was referred to the publisher of seven state running publications.  He was delighted that my client could offer a financial column for runners, written in terms that an athlete could understand.  I never expected a “yes” and should know by now that the most amazing things happen when you simply ask for an opportunity.

Related posts:

"When Ad Budgets Are Down, Get the Word Out with PR," a guest post

Now is a great time to consider replacing advertising with PR, suggests Precision Marketing Group in a guest post, “When Ad Budgets Are Down, Get the Word Out with PR.”

In a perfect world, your business would have enough money to advertise in relevant outlets and to sustain an ongoing public relations effort. But if you are like most companies, today your main focus is cutting expenses and generating sales so you can stay afloat and survive the recession.

Advertising vs. PR
Advertising and public relations provide visibility for a business. When you advertise, you pay a media outlet – a trade or business publication, newspaper, radio or TV station or an online company – to publish an ad. When you engage in PR efforts, your goal is to convince these media outlets to cover your business.

Advertising can be expensive. It is also never guaranteed to generate leads, and many firms are finding that it’s not worth the financial investment. When budget discussions come up – as they do on a daily basis these days- many organizations are slashing their advertising line item.

PR, however, can serve a powerful role during tough economic times. Because the coverage you receive is free, you invest only your time or the money you’d pay an employee or outsourced expert to create and execute your plan. In addition, having a respected media outlet cover your business provides valuable third-party credibility to your company.

Social media is generating more opportunities than ever for pitching your company story, as the number of bloggers in every industry continues to rise – and these bloggers need topics to write about several times a week.

During a recession PR coverage keeps you visible and helps your company to project a stable, successful image. The worst thing to do when times get tough is to disappear!

Thanks to Marcia Goff, one of PMG’s PR specialists, for contributing some great PR tips to this month’s newsletter.

Leveraging PR in a Recession
So how can your business take advantage of the power of PR during this recession?

Keep your story simple.
It is always better to send several different, simple pitches than to bank on a single convoluted pitch that tries to fit too much in. A reporter will spend just a few seconds reviewing your pitch, so make it clear and compelling. Make sure it includes why the reporter’s audience should care about it!

Use customers, supporters, and end users to help tell your story.
Reporters like to tell real life, relevant stories that focus on the benefits of what you are marketing. Can you share with the press how your key stakeholders are benefiting from your products and services in this economy? How does your product or service help to drive business, save money or address a void in the industry? In a recession, these benefits are more important than ever.

Back up your pitch with relevant, accurate data from trusted sources.

Make the reporter’s job as easy as possible by providing reliable facts that support your pitch and show industry demand for your product or service. Example, if you are a wine distributor who has noticed that liquor stores are doing well in this economy, you could find out if the trend is consistent across your industry. Leverage information from industry experts, analysts at research firms, professional trade associations or other third parties that can reinforce your message and underscore the viability of your company.

Show how knowledgeable you are about your industry.
Remember one of the goals is to position yourself as an industry expert and thought leader. Demonstrate that knowledge by discussing issues that customers and prospects are facing, specific pain points, etc. If a reporter can rely on the information you provide, you will quickly become a valuable resource – and your firm will receive more coverage.

Tie your story to a trend or current event.
Latching onto a topic that everyone is talking about is a surefire way to get the media’s attention. These days, you can’t click onto a news site, open a newspaper or turn on the TV without seeing a story about the economy – how it is affecting consumer’s buying patterns and lifestyles, what businesses are doing to avoid layoffs, etc. Reporters are under pressure to come up with interesting, fresh stories about this ongoing story, so help them out with a unique pitch.

Understand the competitive landscape.
You should be able to articulate how you fit in your industry and how your offerings are different than other things out there. For example, “Competitive solutions/services are deficient in this type of economy because of A, B, C …we are overcoming these obstacles by delivering A, B, C…”

Be careful about saying things like “We are the only company doing X.” 
Make sure you have vetted that stand thoroughly so you’re not caught by surprise. It’s also important to avoid bashing your competition. When talking with a reporter, remember that everything is “on the record” and free game for a reporter to write about and quote you as saying. And with viral nature of the Internet, whatever you say is out there for good once you say it!

Target the right reporter and tie your story to what they have covered recently.
For example, you can say, “I see you have covered the increase in xxx, my company is delivering a solution/service to help address these very issues…” Keep in mind that your story/pitch may need to be adapted to focus more on technical elements, business issues, or end user trends, depending on the angle that a particular reporter likes to cover. Be flexible and accommodating with the press and you’ll have a better chance of getting covered in a positive light.

About Precision Marketing Group
Precision Marketing Group is an outsourced marketing firm for entrepreneurial, B2B organizations. If your business is trying to do more with less, survive the recession and position itself for a strong rebound when the economy improves, call or email us today!

New "Wall Street Week" seeking participants

Contact Jeff Salkin (jeff AT wallstreetweek.com) if you’re interested in appearing on a new version of  the “Wall Street Week” show.

Here’s what Jeff says:

We are launching a web-based revival of the venerable “Wall Street Week” franchise. We think there’s a need for a higher-level (and lower-decibel) program than CNBC etc. Looking for potential panelists (some of whom will also host the program.) Please email ideas/suggestions to jeff AT wallstreetweek.com