Be Your Own Publicist

Creating a business you’re proud of is just the first step. Now, you have to get the word about your product or service out into the world. But what, exactly, is the best way to spread the news? That’s where Jamillah Rahmaad, founder of Befriend Your Brand, comes in. She joined our COO Gabrielle Raymond McGee for a webinar to share the digital PR lessons she’s learned in her 15-year career, during which she’s worked with everyone from celebrity chefs to book publishers to angel investors.

Here are some of Rahmaad’s top tips for developing a digital public relations plan that will get your business the attention it deserves.

Know what story you’re trying to tell.

Rahmaad identifies her particular “zone of genius” as helping entrepreneurs to tell their brand stories so that they can connect to potential customers in a real way. She recalls working with N.L. Travis, the founder of Body and Soul Naturally, who hesitated to share why she started her business. She shared her story and in the end, it paid off. Travis’ favorite aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer, which doctors told the family could’ve been linked to aluminum in antiperspirants. After speaking with chemists and doing her own research, she created an aluminum-free deodorant.

“What we did with her digital campaign was we brought her on camera and she actually told the story of [her aunt] fighting breast cancer and how this has been a game-changer for her, her family, her friends. So, when you really get into the depths of your story and understand the ‘why’ behind your business, people are going to build emotional connections with you,” explains Rahmaad. “She connected with organizations within the breast cancer awareness community that she hadn’t even thought were a possibility. All because she got really clear on her story.”

All content is not created equal.

Rahmaad emphasized that there are three different types of content that are part of digital campaigns: owned, earned and paid. Owned content is what your business produces for your audience, whether that’s your company website or in an ad on a partner website. Earned media is content produced by other people about your business (think customer reviews on Yelp or a write-up on a website). And lastly, [aid content refers to messages you pay to distribute, such as radio or local newspaper ads, or advertisements on social media platforms. These forms of content grab customers are different parts of their relationship with your business.

More often than not, your owned media will support or inform the rest of your campaign. “Your owned media is what helps superpower your earned media,” Rahmaad explains. “If you have really great content, if you’re educating people, people are going to want to share that.” Your owned media can even be leveraged as paid media if, for example, you decide to pay for a social media platform to serve that content to more users. Rahmaad said that all three kinds of media are incredible tools for promoting time-sensitive events. 

Be clear on what you want to achieve with your campaigns.

Is your goal to find new customers? Change the behavior of the customers you already have? Promote a one-day-only event? Answering those questions will help you shape the story in your digital campaign. But now that you’ve settled on a story, what’s the best way to share it? “If you’re going to create a digital campaign, then you want to do all three forms of media,” Rahmaad recommends.

Know how to communicate those goals if you hire a publicity partner.

Before rolling out your digital campaign, you want to be sure that the publicist, content creator or agency that you’re working with has expertise in the kind of media you want to create. Do they know the details of Facebook Ads or are they best at creating standard Facebook posts that get huge engagement? Ideally, if you’re hiring someone to help build a digital campaign from start to finish, you’ll want them to be well-versed in owned, paid and earned media. For example, if you bring someone on board to help you with a social media influencer campaign, that person should also be able to support that initiative with your brand’s regular posts as well as the posts you’ll pay to have served to even more customers. Be sure you both understand the deliverables and measures of success.

When it comes to determining price, Rahmaad says, “If you’re hiring someone to do this, are you paying for the relationship? Are you paying for the expertise or are you paying for the labor?” As you’re planning your PR, you’ll also see that you likely don’t need to pay someone around the clock for campaigns (at least, not at first).

Create a journey for your customers. 

>One-time website visits are great, but building an experience for your customers across your channels is the best way to foster relationships that will hopefully turn into repeat business. Rahmaad likes ClickFunnels because it automates things like customer data collection and reminder emails, but suggests business owners play with a range of tools to find what really fits. The goal is to make it as easy as possible to communicate with your customers from the time they discover you to the time they’re beginning to think about their next purchase or service. “When it comes to creating a streamlined process, really think, ‘What gaps are in my business that I can offer digitally?’”

As for her small business digital must-haves, she says, “You need to have something that is managing your calendar, creating an easy way for people to book you for a podcast or a sales call.”

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