It may be week of Love but for me it’s the week of podcasts!

I’m busy recording my podcast episodes for April, May and June this week.

There have been well over 600 downloads now, and the most popular ones so far, seem to be those where I’m talking to another journalist or influencer.

Here are three fascinating people I’ve recently interviewed.

*Magazine Editor, Anita Jayne, who is a friend and colleague and the publisher of two business magazines, ‘The Business Exchange Swindon and Wiltshire’, and ‘The business Exchange Bath and Somerset’ we’ve worked together for well over five years.

I asked Anita to share her insights into what good and bad PR looks like.

Anita doesn’t care about the size of the business she is working with, whether they’re a big or small company – as far as she is concerned, it’s about getting the messaging right for that business. She is however, interested in amazing content – stories that people are going to be interested in.

Doing a good job means that Anita, cares about her advertisers and looks after them and she finds great stories from the community that keeps readers interested. It is worth taking time to get to know businesses, then she knows and understands what they do, and how they can help each other.

For her, bad PR is when:

She receives press releases from businesses in other parts of the country.  Her magazine is based in Swindon, Wiltshire, Bath and Somerset, so why on earth are they even getting in touch?  Unless the business has some worthwhile connection to the south west, or specific local places, then she is not interested, and doesn’t even bother replying.

She receives press releases or emails saying – ‘we’ve created a new product, or a new service’ – that’s advertising/ selling for her.

Anita said she often calls PR, ‘BS puff pieces’! These are the type of emails that often fill her inbox, and, which are a complete waste of her time.

Tips:

  • Each year, Anita prepares a ‘forward features’ list, which tells businesses what they are going to include in the magazine during the year. Obviously, this can change, but it gives businesses a good idea of stories they could share. So, look at other publications to see their forward features list.
  • Then, find themes, that are going to come up during the year that you can hook your story to – as long as it’s relevant.
  • Anita needs stories that are going to fire her up. Think about the amazing things happening in your business, or even bad things – it is all about honesty and credibility. Have you had record beating months; employed new people, created jobs for the local economy?
  • The title of your email is incredibly important, because as soon as she reads it, she can tell if it’s going to be a credible story or not.

People over product – always!  It’s about personalities and being human.

*Jill Foster, National Journalist

After fifteen years working as a feature writer for magazines, and national newspapers, such as The Daily Mirror and The Daily Mail, Jill now works as a freelancer across national and international media. Her specialist interest – human interest stories and features. We’ve known each other for a long while, we first met in person in 2018.

Like me, Jill is a mum, and as such she loves the flexibility of working from home, where she can manage her day as she likes, including taking her girls to school.

What is good PR for Jill in her features work?

Working with PRs who provide the stories; case studies; information and background to stories.

These people know what Jill writes, and read her articles. They know who she is interested in and who she’s not interested in. They also know what is topical, and what will create an impact.

She values strong relationships with good PR professionals, often these will have a journalistic background, though not always.

What Jill hates:

‘Blanket’ email pitches, generically addressed, and obviously been sent out to hundreds of other journalists. She’ll delete them.

Targeted PR is important. Clients are unrealistic if they expect this type of communication to be taken up by everyone. You are better off sending it to someone who is writing about the topic.

A press-release where she couldn’t work out what the story was. It was too woolly and vague.

Tips:

  • The value of photos! Every editor wants unique and good quality pictures.
  • Invest in at least two photoshoots during the year as your business develops. Remember seasonal shoots too – you can’t use pictures from summer if the story has a winter or Christmas theme!
  • Take video on your phone, when you’re out and about and see something quirky or quirky or unexpected around your business, because you never know when it might come in useful. Save them for later use.

Favourite stories:

Jill loves interviewing real people about their stories, something she has recently done for Yahoo.

One was a mental health story, for a little charity – Youth Talk. Young people can go and talk about their mental health. The pitch was about a young girl who had been through struggles and the bit that caught Jill was that this girl took her GCSEs in a psychiatric unit.

In interview, she was confident, eloquent, honest about experiences, and she shared her whole story. She is now doing brilliantly studying to be a vet

A business story that caught Jill’s eye, was about a business man who has set up a business where he makes videos with older people, creating legacy videos. This would be just a new product idea, but the story behind it is very relevant, and moving.  He lost his dad during Covid, and realised, that although he had photos of his dad, he didn’t have a recording of his voice, and he wanted to remember that. So, he started the business to provide that service for others.

It is all about the person, not a business or product, but the stories behind the business that create an impact on readers.

*Janey Lee Grace, Journalist and Broadcaster

Best known as the co-host on ‘Steve Wright in the Afternoon’.

Janey has worked as a broadcaster, media trainer as well as being an author.

She has written several books on holistic living and a famous one on sobriety, from the standpoint of health. She wears a lot of hats, that link together.

Over the years having been on both sides of production, as a producer, editor and presenter, she both, receives press releases and also doing her own PR.

When Janey wrote her first book, she hired a PR company, but sadly the outcome was pretty disastrous, with not a single bite for the amount of money spent. So, she thought she’d have a go herself and got in contact with people saying, ‘hey, I’m the author. I can talk about this, and this and this.’

With three great angles just by explaining what she could talk about, she got media coverage and one radio interview which worked brilliantly for her. Overnight, her book became number 1 on Amazon, having previously been unheard of.

If you have an angle to your story, the media are interested.  It has to be right for their platform though, so you need to do research beforehand.

The media’s job is to tell stories not promote products.  However, if you have a story, an angle – a connection, they’ll talk about the story, and in so doing your product will be promoted by default.

Businesses are often far too desperate to sell products. Clients want to know that they can trust you – how can they know that, if they don’t know anything about you?

Top tips:

  • The dangers of the elevator pitch, where you put together a whole of load of fancy words to ‘market’ your service or product, don’t work, if at the end of it no one knows what you actually do. Put together a short sentence where you say exactly what you do, so you don’t leave anyone guessing.
  • When you are invited to an interview, do your prep. Know who the audience are; the angle they want you to talk about and the style of the interview.
  • Know how long you have to talk, but be able to cut your information down if time is cut.
  • Know what your agenda is- what you want to get across – the key message and few other things.
  • Keep answers short.
  • Prep your key message so you can say it in one minute and then in 30 seconds.
  • If you are talking about a book, be prepared to share the salient points. You don’t want to give too much. Give away your personality. Usually at the end of a show, or an article, you get the opportunity to plug your product.

Give away your personality!

You’ll notice from all three of these ladies, they agree with what I say all the time – building relationships is vital and be open to share your personality more readily than your product!