The Wall Street Journal Has PR Advice for Us


By Kyle Austin

Well actually, Sarah Endline, founder and chief executive of Sweetriot, a small New York company that sells chocolate-covered cacao beans does.  I was surfing through some of the Wall Street Journal’s blogs (not nearly as easy to find as the blogs on NewYorkTimes.com), when I came across the “Independent Street” blog and a post by Kelly Spors. 

Spors post “How to Get Killer PR,” detailed five points to killer PR that she got from Endline, an entrepreneur that she’s run into on several occasions. Spors ran into Endline during a joint appearance on MSNBC’s “Your Business,” after interviewing her on a separate story on angel investing a few months beforehand.  Spors decided it was more then a coincidence that their paths had crossed again and attributed their meetings to good PR.  She decided to reconnect with Endline and get to the bottom of her PR secrets.  

They are as follows: 

1) Attend events. Many of her introductions with journalists are at trade shows and other events. Every January, for instance, Ms. Endline attends the Sundance Film Festival and hands out samples of her cacao beans and chats with celebrities, and often gets Sweetriot mentioned in celebrity-hounding zines.

2) Find compelling themes. Ms. Endline has identified two angles that reporters find intriguing about Sweetriot: its a fast-growth start-up with many entrepreneurial traits and marketing tactics and its unique product. She promotes those aspects when talking about the company and telling its story.

3) Take advantage of opportunities for publicity. Sweetriot applied for Fortune Small Business’s 2007 business-plan competition and ended up with a nice write up and big pic of herself.

4) Be accessible and open. Journalists often work on tight deadlines. So when one calls asking for an interview, call them back quickly. (I’ve never waited more than 30 minutes for Ms. Endline to return my call.) She happily talks about nearly any aspect of her business from fund-raising strategies to annual revenues and marketing tactics. Journalists love that.

5) Devote time. If you think PR will help your company, make time for it. It can’t be just something you try to squeeze into your free time between sales meetings. It takes time, persistence and strategy.  

In knowing that these tips are designed for entrepreneurs starting out, who may or may not have an agency (a small one if they do), these are pretty good. Here’s a RaceTalk take on this advice:

1) Attend Events:  Events and speaking appearances are crucial for networking and building the name of the spokesperson and brand.  If entrepreneurs are attending an event they should take the step to ask the event coordinators for a media list.  If they are paying to attend they will likely have access to this list.  Reaching out to the media attending in advance may help in setting up a meeting with them.

2) Find Compelling Themes:  Even when working with an agency the number one issue can be brainstorming to find compelling themes that resonate in sales and with the media.  It is a very good idea to limit messaging to three or less themes or platforms.  The idea is to hone those themes and hit on the same intriguing plot lines over and over again.  At least until those themes have run their course. 

3) Take advantage of opportunities for publicity:  Building relationships with magazines goes far beyond engaging directly with reporters.  Awards and magazine events are places to network with a vast group of the people that work at publications.  In addition, awards from publications and industry associations are a great way to validate the business and the product.  

4) Be accessible and open:  She’s right on with this and it’s not a surprise that Spors says “journalists love this.”  In consulting with our clients we sometimes have to address the misperception that they are doing a favor for the media by talking with them.  This cannot be the thought process when dealing with the media.  Yes, conversations with the media need to be strategic and planned but opportunities also have to be turned around quickly.  It is imperative that entrepreneurs be flexible to the media’s schedule if they want to get their name in ink.  

5) Devote Time: PR takes strategy, planning and effort to succeed, just like every other aspect of your business.  This leads me into our additional point.  

6) Contact a leading PR Agency: When it is time to take your company to the next level contact a leading PR agency (I’ve heard this agency isn’t bad).  PR campaigns need to be strategically tied into all business goals and leveraged on all mediums.  When done right, PR can have a significant affect on the businesses’ bottom line.  

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