Making Public Relations Work for You

Q) What services do you offer, how long have you been in business and why did you go into PR?

A) I am in the business of elevation. My company, Quest Media Training, is one of the avenues I use to elevate brands, moods and ideas. I accomplish this through media coaching, keynote speaking and strategic public relations.

I have been in business for seven years, one of my favorite numbers! I went into public relations because I wanted to be part of making positive news after being a journalist reporting doom-and-gloom stories while working in a high-pressure newsroom.

What are three general, rule-of-thumb tips for someone handling PR for a large brand or celebrity?

  1. Create a culture of confidentiality. As a PR director, you must know many secrets in order to protect and elevate your client’s brand. Knowing how to keep things under wraps is critical and builds trust. I suggest signing mutual confidentiality agreements.
  1. Promote the client over self. We often see publicists posing with their clients and celebrities — more often than we see the client in action, living out the work of the publicist. Promoting your business is important, but let’s still believe in the magic of PR. It should look effortless and look as if you expected that your clients would be where you placed them, instead of you boasting that you are the reason they are there.
  1. Develop a thick skin. Several attempts to book a media hit are common. Some of the biggest fish I landed took several months! One event took more than a year! In media, specifically, “no” does not mean “never.”

What advice do you have for securing media coverage with major outlets?

Make sure that your pitch is research-based and airtight. Include examples of media hits your client has had. Be very polished, efficient and to the point!

Is booking international media coverage different from booking domestic media coverage?

I have used similar techniques for both. Though the skills transfer, it is important to remember that much more research is needed on the international front. You want to be aware of the current news cycle and cultural sensitivities overseas, and to dissect your pitch word by word. You never know how a producer or person from another country may interpret an American phrase. Be very careful not to offend.

How has social media impacted the way you market?

Because of the intimate and specific nature of how I practice PR, I do not use social media to market in the traditional sense. My PR clients are high-level and have connected with me through relationships or professional associations. I use social media to offer insight into my personality and business practices so that after high-level clients first interact with me, I am clear and strategic on what they will find when they research me after I leave their offices.

What marketing tactics  — videos, memes, email campaigns, events, landing pages, for instance — have you used? Which work best for you?

For media and brand coaching, my most successful marketing tactics have been events and videos. For the public relations arm of my business, my most successful tactics have been influenced by events, email campaigns and individual pitches.

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What should marketers do when looking to expand their efforts online or off?

It is important to note that I am a public relations director and media coach, not a marketer. Marketing and PR are entirely separate Industries. Both are needed to make a real impact in brand visibility and building great relationships with customers and future clients. I strongly suggest including a parallel public relations campaign to expand your efforts faster.

What common mistakes have you seen brands make?

Some include not being consistent. Having many talents is OK, but you must drill down and consistently promote your main thing to build an audience that trusts you and returns repeatedly.

Another mistake occurs when brands trade value for volume. They post fun, visually appealing, catchy content, but it is not clear what they do. It is a huge mistake to try being popular while not clearly communicating exactly what you offer and what results a client can expect.

Is there any such thing as “bad press?”

A great friend who has produced for a top market once said that the only thing worse than bad press is no press. Depending on your industry, bad press can ruin your career. We have seen this with politicians and even pastors. It can be hurtful if you are not solidly established as a brand. So stay above board to have the most positive, consistent press possible.

What should a brand do when handling a negative media situation?

Before that situation arises, a brand should have a crisis communications plan that includes a response timeline, spokespeople, suggestions for fixes and a clear understanding of possible issues. Handling the negative media situation is about responding early, often and with full transparency. The public is often quick to forgive when fully informed.

How do you develop a brand voice for clients?

I use The Z Method to identify their core and analyze their goals and strengths. I use the results to create organic and authentic messaging, and to establish a clear brand voice.

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How did you develop your brand voice?

I always say your brand is your promise. Early in my career, I became known for consistency, creativity, passion, precision and authenticity. I was living my promise, my brand. After realizing this, I did The Z Method on myself! Then I studied clips of myself in action on media or speaking platforms. I created brand goals. I thought about my target audience and what made it respond. I put it all in my “magic machine,” shook it up, and out came a custom brand voice that is results-oriented for my client — me.

To find out more and for free downloads, visit ZakiyaLarry.com.

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