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Recently, I’ve seen a few women-run businesses face a PR crisis. No one likes to be criticised, especially publicly so I’d like to ensure women entrepreneurs feel equipt to handle a situation which can make us feel vulnerable, scared and angry as the reputation of our business is at stake. It has been adapted from a public relations crisis management plan normally handed out to corporates.

Every business will at one time or another experience a situation that could potentially impact its reputation, operations, and financial stability. In these fast-paced digital times, the speed at which stories and issues can unfold is phenomenal. We’ve seen the rise of citizen journalists who can take photos and videos of incidents on their mobile devices to send instantly to media organisations. Lobby groups and individuals can now report their grievances through social and traditional media more quickly and with greater intensity than ever before severely damaging businesses.

Larger organisations, political parties or public figures have media advisors on their team trained to both avoid a crisis and deal with one if it unfolds.  But as entrepreneurs, most of us don’t have the luxury of a PR or media advisor on our team to handle a crisis. We may have marketing people to look at the odd negative review or trolling on social media, but even then you need a more consistent and diligent response. (I will write about this issue soon)

The advice I’m giving here is generic. It’s not intended to fill all needs but outline options for if and when you are in the midst of a PR storm. Be aware of other issues, including legal and financial consequences, must be taken into consideration at this critical time.

What is a PR crisis?

A PR crisis is any situation threatening the reputation of your brand. There are many examples of PR crisis situations including immoral or inappropriate conduct by an employee or senior figure in your business, a disaster or accident causing harm to employees and/or members of the public. It may also be where the media or general public perceive business didn’t act in an appropriate way

1. Select a Crisis Management Response Team (CMRT)

When a situation arises which is perceived to be a PR crisis or possible crisis the first reaction should be for the business head or next in line to confirm all facts relating to the incident and select a Crisis Management Response Team (CMRT). Even if you are a solo entrepreneur, you’re going to want and need advisors, whether that be PR, legal or both.

A CMRT meeting should be held as soon as possible after you become aware of the incident and also include anyone who can provide insight into how the disaster unfolded, such as a witness or employees.

The meeting should:

  • Ensure everyone is aware of the seriousness of the situation, short and long-term consequences.
  • Establish if an external expert needs to be called in to consult on the crisis.
  • Identify who may criticise the business publicly.
  • Develop an action plan around what to say and how to inform your stakeholders, e.g. clients or customers and suppliers plus media.

2. Plan for a media onslaught

It’s vital to have a guide for handling the media. The frontline staff of a business will often have the initial contact by phone, email, social media or in person with journalists. How they handle this contact is a reflection of the business and will reflect its media coverage. Frontlines staff should:

• Treat the media at all times respectfully.
• Tell the journalist they’re not authorised to comment on behalf of the business.
• Take the journalist’s details and tell them you’ll arrange for a call back as soon as possible.
• Immediately tell the appropriate supervisor of the query.
• Avoiding giving information to the media as “off the record” or even say “no comment”. Treat any information or comment to journalists as going to be used in coverage, even if given in confidence.

All of your frontline staff should receive basic training on the points listed above even before a PR crisis because often the first you’ll hear about it will be from a journalist seeking a comment.

3. Select a media spokesperson

To maintain consistency in messaging only the company head or an authorised person (decided by the CMRT) should provide comment. Public relations advisors will decide upon the best format for each media response such as:
• Phone call/interview.
• Holding statement (see below) or press release.
• In person interview or media conference.

4. Write a holding statement

In the event of an incident attracting immediate media attention, it may be necessary to issue a holding statement before all the details are available such as:

“We confirm that (state the nature of the incident) occurred at (state place) at (state time). This incident is being investigated and dealt with at the moment by (who). We’ll issue a full statement at the earliest possible time. We appreciate your co-operation on this matter. For further media information contact (details of public relations officer).

5. Have media training before a crisis hits

When a crisis happens, there’ll be minimal time for training, so its best to ensure all potential spokespeople are given media training in your organisation. This training should include information sessions on how the media operates along with role-playing and interview practice.

A business involved in a public relations crisis must understand it will be highly emotive and the media can be relentless in their pursuit of someone to blame. It is vital everyone stays calm, works together, anticipates likely worst-case scenario interview questions and assists the spokesperson prepare answers to what could be a media onslaught.

Below is a list of possible questions you may be asked by a journalist:
• Can you tell us what happened?
• Who is to responsible for what happened?
• How long have you known about the problem?
• How could you have not known about the problem?
• Why didn’t you act earlier to prevent the situation?
• How much will this situation impact your business?
• Do you admit negligence?
• Do you admit you were at fault?
• What are you doing to help those affected?

For many of these questions, especially those that may have legal implications such as around negligence and admitting fault, public relations and legal advisors must together to determine appropriate ways for the spokesperson to answer.

To add to this post, I’ve also asked colleague Publicity Genie founder  Annette Densham for some of her tips. Annette is also a highly experienced journalist with stints across various leading media organisations, including The Australian newspaper.

Annette’s number one tip is to remember a public relations crisis can be extremely stressful.

“My biggest advice is to make sure you have emotional support because you’ll need someone you can trust and let your feelings out in confidence,” she says.

However, Annette warns about acting emotionally during the crisis.

“You don’t want a knee-jerk reaction so think through the worst-case scenarios about what they can say about you or your business then work out a response.

“You’ll feel like running and hiding or shutting up shop but don’t panic because the storm will pass.”

If you look at the news on a daily basis, you will see individual public figures political parties, companies, schools, health care providers and yes smaller businesses too dealing with a PR crisis. Unfortunately, we can’t make you immune from criticism, but help guide you to “weather the storm”.

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Digital PR has become an integral part of a communication strategy to grow the profiles of businesses, their leaders, domain authority and boost SEO. When I first started in journalism, public relations consultants would fax or email us through press releases and they’d call us to see if we received the release and were interested in doing a story.

When I moved over to public relations, we were still emailing press releases and it’s still a common practice to do so today. However, PR leaders like Hubspot’s Illiyana Stareva, who invented the new concept Inbound PR, encourage a different and more effective approach.

Illiyana says focusing your PR strategy on digital has now become vital as content is the name of the buying game today.

“We make our decisions based on our research online by reading blogs, magazines, social media recommendations and any other online materials,” Illiyana says.

“If you haven’t focused your PR efforts on your digital appearance and building up your domain authority through more inbound links, you are not setting your business up for success in our content-driven world of digitally savvy consumers.”

The days of writing a press release and sending it on mass to journalists hoping for mainstream coverage are becoming less effective. Building your own digital PR strategy through media channels to focus more on the people you want to reach is delivering impressive results.

It’s not to say don’t write a press release or alert journalists or publications in your industry about a good story you may have for them. However, make the most of your online presence through great content to entice journalists, your target audience, influencers and other bloggers to your site. It’s all part of the inbound method where you entice people to take notice of your content rather than pushing it out upon them.

How Inbound PR can improve SEO

Inbound PR combines the techniques of traditional PR approaches – building relationships, identifying stories, creating news – with the approaches of inbound marketing. A benefit of inbound PR strategies is its boost to SEO. Gone are the days of dodgy black hat backlink tactics to show the popularity of your site by getting backlinks to irrelevant sites. Google technology and algorithms are much cleverer now and will penalise such underhanded tactics.

However, features of your brand and links to your website still play a vital role in improving your search visibility, that is the number of people able to find your business, products and services via the search engines. You need to build quality backlinks and raise your profile as an authoritative source, which is where digital PR shines. Inbound PR can help boost your SEO and profile through:

  • Promoting quality content.
  • Driving traffic to your website and owned media.
  • Building relationships with your brand and highly authoritative industry influencers, press publications and bloggers.
  • Create quality content and raise your profile through citations, mentions and links.

Make the most of co-citations

The co-citation algorithm is where Google is starting to look at what people are talking about on a page. For example, if public relations and Nadine McGrath appear in the same article, even if there’s not a single link if enough different sources cite the two together then that will carry authority. Google will start to see Nadine McGrath keeps coming up repeatedly with the words public relations so must be associated with public relations.

Google is constantly trying to discover what matters when someone is searching. Do elements like social signals, shares, mentions matter? It’s no longer just about linking strategies anymore. You need a social presence and want other people talking about you so Google can see you are credible. Anything Google can find and analyse using its crawlers then it will, including Twitter and public Facebook. It’s worth noting that Google+ is rated highest in search rankings. Make sure anything you publish is also on Google+.

How to build a valuable earned media strategy

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When people look to earned media they often have grand plans of contributing or being interviewed for top news sites or publications in their field. However, my advice is  start small and work your way up. Earned media means “earned” for a reason. Look first at getting in your local paper, radio or television news. Your local community is often where your target audience is, so it makes sense to try for coverage in this area. Once you establish your media profile locally, then look for bigger opportunities or industry media.  A good place to start is sites like SourceBottleResponse Source or Help a Reporter Out. Offer your knowledge and opinion by registering on sites like Quora or Savvy SME.

Have a good working website that reads well for people and is easy to navigate. If you’re content is boring or reads like you’re trying to cram it with keywords then chances are it won’t be interesting. All effective media strategy equals quality content plus network. If you have quality content, it may or may not get found. If you have quality content to share with a strong network, then that’s a solid formula for success. Start building your network.

Remember chasing a number one ranking for certain keywords doesn’t matter anymore because of personalisation. Nadine McGrath will come up when I search public relations not necessarily because I’m number one but because I have shared it so many times. Google is guessing Nadine McGrath is what I want to show up when I type in public relations. People connected to me who have seen my shares will see it higher up than other people who may not know Nadine McGrath.

Digital marketing manager for award-winning UK agency Impression Laura Hampton advises people to take a layered approach to their digital PR strategy with reactive and proactive techniques used side by side. Laura has written extensively on digital PR and spoken at numerous conferences including Brighton SEO, the UK’s largest search marketing conference.

What is the reactive and proactive PR technique?

A reactive PR technique means responding to what is happening within your business or topical issues in your industry that you can make a comment and might get coverage.

“On the reactive side, consider the use of Twitter hashtags like #journorequest and #PRrequest to find journalists looking for help with their stories,” Laura says.

Proactive PR is where creativity comes into play and businesses can start creating ‘news from nothing’.

“This means developing a strong understanding of your target publications and audience, to create content which suits their desires and therefore gains widespread high-quality coverage,” Laura says.

“For example, we wanted to achieve coverage across high authority publications in our industry and I found they often covered interview style content,” she says.

“I, therefore, put together an interview, which was filmed, and from which I was able to draw stories and subsequently gain coverage.”

Conclusion: Know your audience and PR goals

When developing a digital PR strategy do your research and consider your goals. Public relations is not a quick fix solution to gain more sales or clients but is about building up your credibility and influence. Public relations should be considered an essential component of any communications or marketing strategy for your brand. As Virgin founder Richard Branson says: “A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.”

 

 

One of my favourite journalists of all time doesn’t work on a large, metropolitan paper. He was not an award chaser but would get my vote for developing a loyal base of followers for more than half a century. My dad’s best childhood mate Gary (Gus) Underwood was the editor of Kyabram Free Press, in rural Victoria. He inspired me to be a journalist with his witty, opinionated columns and for building up a paper, treasured among the locals and offers some great blogging tips.

In rural communities, local news outlets are deeply valued but sadly these days on the decline. As a journalist, if you write a good story people will buy you a beer in the pub and give you leads on another. On the contrary, if you produce a misleading or offensive story, even one which is grammatically incorrect you will feel their wrath and have to work hard to build up trust again.

Speaking of trust, did you notice errors in the title of this post? Content may be ‘king’, but correct spelling and grammar are still one of the most powerful tools a communicator can use to connect with their audiences. It may not have been wise to include mistakes in the headline, probably already turning off readers.

One of the best quotes I’ve seen on grammar is from US Author and Business Trainer Jeffrey Gitomer. 

Your grammar is a reflection of your image. Good or bad, you have made an impression and like all impressions, you are in total control.’

Building a loyal following through content marketing is much like being a journalist on a country newspaper so while Gus doesn’t have a blog at age 72 he still tells a good story and offers sound advice for blog writing. 

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Firstly, I would like to make it clear I’m from the old school. To be more precise the old, old school.  I got a job as a cadet reporter at Kyabram Free Press in northern Victoria when I was 17-years-old in 1961. Some 55 years later and at the age of 72 I’m still providing articles for the same paper and its parent company, Shepparton Newspapers.

I got my start in journalism because my uncle was a good mate of the then editor of the Kyabram Free Press, Paul Easton. Producing some sporting articles for the paper on outstanding feats of some of my schoolmates while attending Kyabram High School in the 1950s, probably helped in securing the position.

Apart from a hidden passion of always wanting to get into journalism that was about it for me as far as credentials to the do the job were concerned. I’ll also admit I didn’t dare mention in my job interview that I had failed English Grammar in my Intermediate Certificate school year.

Reflecting back on some of my earlier efforts as a cadet journalist, Mr Easton would have got the message very early I wasn’t a super speller. He was very diplomatic whenever this happened. He would tell me people with the ability to write and capture an audience in those writings are not always grammatically savvy or a spelling wizard.  Mr Easton also made a point that would-be journalists who were faultless spellers may have no idea about producing a story to capture an audience. In other words, some good journalists can’t spell and often those who can spell can’t write to inform or entertain. Personally, I interpreted this as Mr Easton seeing some talent in me as a journalist. I have worked hard on building up my word power and spelling over the years.

When I became editor of the Free Press, a position I held for 24 years, there was a lot more pressure to spell correctly and be grammatically correct because the buck stopped with me if errors made it to print.  Anyone in the newspaper game will tell you that you get nasty and uncomplimentary feedback more often when you get it wrong than complimentary if you get it right.

When I first started in this game mistakes which got to print were extremely rare. A professional proofreader,  sub-editor, then the editor would read every bit of copy before it went to the press.

Unfortunately, in today’s digital age with increasing online competition manpower associated with producing many newspapers and publications has been reduced to try and remain economically viable. Many newspapers, particularly the country ‘local rags’ often go to print verbatim without adequate subbing.

Mr Easton also stressed to execute my writings in a manner in readers didn’t need to have a dictionary at the ready to check what some of the words I was employing meant. He said this was a sure way of turning off your readers. He also stressed all articles or stories needed to connect with people from age six to 106.

‘‘You are not writing exclusively for academics but for everyone who can read,” was his sound advice so many years ago.

“People who can understand exactly what you are writing about will continue to read it if it’s interesting enough.”  

 I’m sure his advice still rings true today. 

I was speaking with a leading public speaking coach today about International Women’s Day. Marc Miles is the owner of Accelerated Training Academy. Marc was pointing out to me there’s a lot of possible articles that as a journalist working to raise the voice of women I could be writing about today.

Marc is right – I could be writing about the gender pay gap, more support needed for working mothers or those wanting to return to the workforce, the financial empowerment of women – my list could go on. These are all issues close to my heart and will no doubt receive coverage today by other journalists on different platforms.

However, I enjoyed discussing Marc’s work with him. He offers public speaking coaching to both men and women and has noticed similarities to what I have about women putting themselves in the public arena. It was why today I want to write an article about the need for more women speakers and media sources.

As many of you may know this year, I’ve undertaken a career pivot away from digital marketing back to my love of journalism. I have a new mission of helping the voice of women leaders and changemakers be heard in the media and more publicly for impact.

There are more women in positions of leadership in news organisations worldwide than ever before in history. However, women are still quoted as sources less often than men and this was pointed out to me at a recent conference by a leading female journalist. Former colleagues have been overwhelmingly supportive of my plan to work with women.

My list of sources as a journalist was disappointingly filled more with the names of men. In the business pages and for stories on finance, health, science, law and education men are still more prevalently quoted. Many women in the world are doing extraordinary work, but their opinion and leadership often go unheard.

According to Marc a main reason we don’t have more women speakers is they are more likely to suffer anxiety than men around public speaking.

“The majority or people that come to my public speaking workshops are females,” says Marc.

“Statistically, they say 75 per cent of women suffer from speech anxiety.”

Marc says women often feel insecure about “speaking up” and “speaking out” for various reasons.

“The number reason is they’ll wonder what right do they have to speak? or what if someone hears their message and takes it out of context,” he says.

“There’ll be concern they haven’t done enough to have credibility as a speaker.

“These comments often come from men as well, but women seem to have a much higher sensitivity to audience evaluation of themselves and their message.”

This too is what I have noticed in my work with women. However, despite their general lack of confidence, Marc says women tend to make excellent public speakers.

“My advice is people pay you for your unique journey, not for what you know,” he says.

“As a speaker, your journey is to touch, move and inspire an audience to take action and often females are far better at doing this because they can speak from both sides of the brain – emotional and logical in a very balanced way.”

Sarah Cannata is the founding editor of This Woman Can, a leading online community and magazine where women share their versions of success.

According to Sarah, the reason women are under-quoted in the media is that we’re still under-represented in fields such as politics, business, sport, science technology and the list goes on.

“We can point the finger at the media and question why they aren’t broadening their horizons and digging deeper than reaching out to the same people who tend to be men again and again,” Sarah says.

“We must realise that journalists are over-worked and often, are expected to do two people’s workloads.

“Another issue is the same women being quoted in the media on the same topics again and again.”

Sarah says there is very little diversity, which means a lot of women don’t see themselves represented in the media, which is never ideal.

Sarah says the path to changing the status-quo lies with us the consumer of media coverage.

“At the end of the day, if we didn’t add to ratings, click on news articles with juicy headlines and were more picky with our consumption, the media’s hand would be forced,” she says.

“Contrary to popular belief, the power is in our hands – the media exists for and because of us and together we can drive change.”

At This Woman Can, Sarah has created a platform that is accessible to everyone and brings women together by tapping into the power of storytelling.

“Our mission is to create an inclusive environment where people feel safe in sharing their stories, can discover, connect and engage with a like-minded community of women.”

So on International Women’s Day 2018, I want all women to remember just how valuable you and your story is to the world. Let’s move to raise the voices of women and think to yourself “This Woman Can”.

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I want you to ponder a question. Do you consider how what you say on social media, at networking or social events, on the sidelines of your children’s sporting activity or in a speech impacts on you, your brand reputation?

Everyone will have a bad day now and again, want to have a spat at someone on social media, call themselves a “bad-ass” or a “hustler”, meaning they’re successful in business. However, is this really how you want to come across in the long-term?

I work with women leaders and change-makers who have already achieved a level of success but want a more national or global reach for greater impact. My ideal clients are humble but have established leadership and are making a difference in their field. I can usually tell very quickly who I want to work with and who is a red flag.

One of the first things I do with a potential client is become a pseudo-detective. I openly stalk their social media accounts. I do a web search for their name and work to discover other facts and get an understanding of them as a person. I may talk with their friends, clients or family members. All of this information will help me mine and craft their story.

I want authenticity in their marketing to build impact. The word authentic, meaning real or genuine, has become somewhat trendy in recent years. However, If you want to be authentic, then it needs to be across the board. If you’re an entrepreneur, then there’s inevitably going to be a cross-over between your personal and business life.

You need to consider how you act will impact on your brand reputation. The resignation of former Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce following an affair with his former media advisor, who is now expecting his baby, is a testament to harsh judgement the public will bestow upon inauthenticity.

Many argue the father of four’s indiscretions are part of his personal life and shouldn’t impact his work. However, Joyce held the National Party of Australia’s highest position. He publicly was against gay marriage, the Gardasil vaccine for teens to prevent cervical cancer saying it would promote “promiscuity” and was a proponent of traditional family values.

Being authentic doesn’t mean you can’t speak out on issues. By expressing your authentic self and values, you’ll attract people who resonate with your message. But don’t put on a show in public because you think it’s good for your image or on trend as incongruencies like with Joyce will show through.

If you’re going to debate someone on social media, then be respectful and stick to the issue, avoid swearing or personal attacks. Consider do you want to be known as a “bad-ass” or “hustler” now or in five years? If yes, then use the term and if no or I’m not sure then leave it out. Your brand reputation and digital footprint, what you say and do now will be around for a long time. As I tell my clients the best way to deal with a PR disaster is to avoid it in the first place.

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I grew up in a small town and to this day love regional areas. Living or working in a country town can teach you some great business lessons, especially about know,like & trust. My grandfather owned a hardware store and my parents worked in service industries. In a country town, everyone has their role to play from the local policeman, baker, doctor, accountant or teacher.

My grandfather always taught me people do business with people they’ve built a relationship with and trust. His lesson was similar to the mantra ‘know, like and trust’ that has stood the test of time and been preached by many leading sales authors and speakers over the years.

When a new person comes to town, they have to work hard to become known, liked and trusted among the locals. I remember years ago when as a young doctor my husband (then fiance`) was sent to outback Queensland to fill in for the local doctor.

My husband was pretty fresh out of medical school and still had a baby-looking face. Some of his patients would come in and roughly say to him “Where’s the real doctor?” or “You don’t look old enough to be out of kindergarten”. He was feeling awkward and out of place.

I had some holidays from my work and visited to offer him moral support. I worked in the reception area, alongside the regular medical secretary. While I didn’t know about running a medical practice, I was confident in my ability to get my naturally shy fiance` connecting with the locals.

I was able to get everyone talking in the medical waiting room – people connected. We told stories about our background while people told us stories about their lives. We discussed the challenges of living in rural areas, such as the need for better health care or education. We would watch local football games, hang out in the pub, listen to the concerns of locals.

When it came time to leave people knew, liked and trusted my husband and were sad to see him leave. Connecting and building relationships with your target client, whether online or offline is a vital component of a successful business.

Respected business coaches and marketers are now saying stop concentrating on your social media following or complex marketing campaign and concentrate on building a true connection based on trust like my husband had to do in this small town.

I see many women at networking events and online business women’s groups who seem to think that to be successful they must have a huge social media following or elaborate marketing campaigns.

But recently, I’ve noticed leading business coaches have all been writing posts with similar messages. Women are focusing on the wrong elements in building a successful business and struggling in the process.

Their messages are similar that there are thousands of entrepreneurs making high incomes and having an impact, but you may not have heard them.

Their point is that most of the time a large social media following has nothing to do with your success or income. As coach Sonya Stattmann once told me: “I’ve looked under the hood of many businesses with large social media followings and let me tell you it’s not good.”

I’m a journalist now working with women leaders and changemakers to tell their stories and make an impact. However, I don’t choose my clients by their social media following. I have women come to me bragging about their social media following, but this is often superficial.

The women I work with and want to work with are humble and often too busy doing their work to have elaborate campaigns or huge social media followings.

Don’t get me wrong in the early days of my business I also was focusing on elaborate marketing campaigns or gaining a following. I study, research and work in the marketing sphere. However, I have become somewhat disillusioned with the low rates of conversion of mainstream marketing so now think outside the box.

For people like me working with clients on an individual basis, it’s about building a connection and trust rather than putting all of my energy into growing a social media following or elaborate marketing campaigns.

In the early days of social media and internet marketing, it was easier to make an impact. However, there is a lot of white noise online now without great substance. Talented and honest marketers all agree people are falling for the hype that you need followers and elaborate campaigns to get clients.

Marketing is changing rapidly so now needs to be strategised and can be highly valuable when you want to get to another level in your business. In the meantime, start with the basics like connecting with people and finding common ground to grow.

Congratulations! You’ve just won a business award and no doubt you’re feeling very proud.  A business award can elevate the status of your business, improve morale and demonstrate your proficiency.

However, business award recipients often become disappointed that their win, which while important to them and their staff, doesn’t get covered by the mainstream media.

In a woman’s business group recently, a woman expressed her disappointment and frustration that despite winning four awards in as many months, the local newspapers were not interested in writing a story.

The woman said she’d sent a press release each time every time they’d won a business award but received no coverage even though they support hundreds of other local businesses and charities. She asked advice about how to get the media to tell her story.

So, what went wrong and why didn’t this woman get any success with getting coverage in her local media? Simply put the media hate cheque hand-overs and award stories. While the win is important to you, news and PR is not marketing.

As a journalist, I would receive press releases daily in my inbox or calls from eager PR consultants or business leaders wanting to publicise a business or industry win. However, our editors were simply not interested in the story.

One award story which stands out to me was in 2016 when a Brisbane firm won the 2016 Good Design Award of the Year. Evolve Group had been commissioned to create a honey harvesting system that tapped into a hive and extracted the honey without having to disturb the bees. It was a great invention and win for the company. What made it so newsworthy to other journalists and myself? The company had beaten global powerhouses Tesla and Google to win the award.

The new honey harvesting system was revolutionising beekeeping making it safer, easier and more efficient to extract honey.

You see even if you’ve won one of the most prestigious prizes in the world, such as Nobel prize you have to remember the story is more about what you have done for society, how you are improving the lives of others than yourself.  Abruptly put news is not about massaging your ego.

I had lunch with two good friends and colleagues recently. Both were trained journalists with one now with her PR firm and even specialising in helping business leaders prepare and nominate for awards. The other has a successful podcast and also trains others how to podcast create a leading podcast.

I asked my podcasting friend how she chooses her guests, which is a topic warranting a whole other post in its own right.  “When they just start talking about themselves, all their achievements and awards then I know straight away, they’re not a good fit,” she told me.

“But when they tell me they’ve listened to my podcast and have a whole lot of ideas about how they could add value to my listeners then I know they’re a good fit.”

For my PR friend who enjoys helping businesses to receive recognition through awards, she told me when writing a press release or contact the media about a story for her clients she never focuses purely on their win.

5 Tips for getting a story about your award win into the news?

  1. Highlight the Spectacular: Like the new honey harvesting system, if there’s something quite spectacular about your win, it will become newsworthy and appealing to journalists. Some awards are also considered more newsworthy and important than others. The Telstra Businesswoman of the Year is an example of an award which attains considerable media coverage
  2. Pitch your origin story:  Talk about the personal story of how you started your business and it’s growth. We all, including the media, love a good hero story of overcoming obstacles and triumph. Why did you start your business? Were you filling a gap in the market? How many people have you served?
  3. Offer journalist a story appealing to their audience: You can inadvertently mention your award but don’t make it the focus of your pitch.  For example, if you’re in property or real estate what have you noticed about the local market?  What are the property trends in your area?  How are you changing your industry, like the beehive story?
  4. Keep interested in the news: read your local newspaper to see what type of stories journalist pick up. Can you offer a fresh angle or different perspective? For example, if you’re a financial advisor can you comment on any changes to the budget or economic policy, interest rates etc. Again, you can mention your award inadvertently.
  5. Be honest with yourself: Before you send any release or contact a journalist ask yourself honestly: “Would the audience care half as much as we do?” Often, the answer is an emphatic “No” so go back and brainstorm another angle.

Remember, business awards are still an excellent opportunity to gain recognition with a lot of great ones coming up in the next few months. Some of the best stories about business award win discuss trends, topics and insights into an industry. Your business award may be shiny, but by itself, it’s often not news so think of a more creative way to make it so.

Do you watch, listen or read the news? Do you have your favourite news outlet? Do you not consume news because you feel it’s filled with terrible, sad and depressing events?

You know when you’re at a social event and people ask what do? In my almost 20 years as a journalist and public relations consultant, I’ve found opinions about the media and what makes news are rife. My job can certainly become a conversation starter.

However, if you’re not consuming news as a woman business leader or change-maker, then you should reconsider. Learn what makes news, consider offering your expertise or insight to the media which will, in turn, raise your profile and impact.

So here’s a quick “What Makes News 101 Crash Course”. If you’ve ever thought about media exposure, you’ll have a basic understanding of how the media determines what stories to tell.

What is newsworthiness?

• Timing

The word news is exactly like it sounds – it’s new. Topics which are current are good to think about when pitching news stories. Think about can you provide a different angle, an update, insight into current topics. Outlets quickly discard the old but journalists are always on the hunt for a fresh angle.

You need to think and act fast for topical stories or those with a date-frame. If it happened today, it’s news. If the same thing happened last week, it’s no longer interesting or out of date like sour milk.

• Significance

The number of people affected by the story vital. Think how many people are affected by say a new change to legislation or a tax hike. This is why train crash in which hundreds of people died is likely to receive more coverage than a crash killing a dozen. Is your story significant?

• Proximity

Stories happening close to us have more significance and are more newsworthy. In this day and age where technology has brought the world closer together, this doesn’t always mean geographical distance because where we feel at home or our community can be across international borders. Take for example the #Me Too stories and movement which women feel a bond with world-wide.

• Prominence

Famous people do tend to get more coverage simply because of their fame and profile. If you have a baby, it may not make the news, but Princess Kate of England having her third baby receives mass international coverage.

• Human Interest

There is an exception with human interest stories, which often disregard the main rules of newsworthiness. Human interest stories don’t date, don’t need to affect a lot of people and may not matter where in the world the story takes place.

Human interest stories appeal to emotion. They aim to evoke an emotional response such as empathy, sadness or inspiration. I love writing human interest stories. While the news is often grim, television news often place a humorous or feel-good piece at the end of the show to finish on an uplifting note, while newspapers will also have fun stories. I used to love writing these stories because they made me feel good too.

Top 3 tips for media exposure

1. Think strategically

Observe the media outlet that you want to appear. What type of stories do they cover? What angles could you provide that would appeal to them? Who is their target audience? Read comments if available from their readers on articles. Journalists, media organisations can get hundreds of pitches – often not relevant to their publication which can be off-putting.

2. Know your audience

It’s always about knowing your audience/clients and effective communication. Daily you’re talking to clients and it’s through this communication, you’ll find story ideas. Why did they come to you? What problems are they facing? What are their pain-points and how are you helping to solve these? These all form the basis for good stories. Sometimes we get bogged down with statistics but don’t lead with figures, weave them into the story and start with one person you can talk about who is part of that statistic.

3. Pitch your story & angle

Reach out and pitch a story to editors, other bloggers, podcasters to see if they would be interested in interviewing you or your contributions. However, make sure you do your research first to ensure you’re offering a relevant story and contribution.

If you’ve often thought about getting media coverage for greater exposure and impact, then reach out. Everyone has a story to tell and I’d love to brainstorm yours with you.