Written by Mark Ogertschnig, Lifehackers Agency
How to save your business with massive media attention and traffic? within 4 hours and 0 euro budget with this unfair advantage that big brands use.
Crisis, it’s here again. We have seen some of them the last decades and we are currently facing one that is unprecedented and unseen before. In all crisis scenarios I have been involved, while working for big A-brands like Volkswagen, Audi, IKEA and Jumbo, and thinking through on forehand or had to solve the last decade: not one of them covered an economy going on pause for several months in order to keep humanity safe, prevent massive deaths or dealing with social distance and non-physical contact for an unknown period of time. Every business that is dependent on physical meetings or foot traffic has a serious (cash flow) problem and is urgently looking for ways to make the switch to from offline to online, while paying personnel on payroll, within given government rules, regulations and limiting budget. And most importantly: staying healthy and safe at the same time!
Every entrepreneur, start-up and business owner will ask him or herself: how can I get my product or service in front of customers or B2B decision makers while my cashflow runs out? And here it comes: a proven method from the past, that a lot of us have been neglecting in the digital age, is here to save you. An unfair advantage that big A-brands and celebrities use up until today, to get massive amounts of attention. Dear freelancer, start-up or small business owner in the Epicenter Community, are you ready for a serious Growth Hack?
In this blog which is specially written for Epicenter members we are going to reveal the DIY version of scaling your business with massive attention, that made brands like Volkswagen, Audi, IKEA and many celebrities like DJ’s, politicians and movie stars billions of exposure and then thought through well: traffic, leads & sales in good times and bad times. It was one of the biggest discoveries in my life and it will probably remain so for a long time. I wrote this because it will help you, your business and the ones you are responsible for, to get in front of customers fast. Within 4 hours, if the hacks in this article are followed.
A little backstory though: When I was young, my parents were small entrepreneurs. They did not have a lot of money and needed to do a lot of upfront investments to establish their business. They always encouraged me to go and study and gain work experience with big companies and established brands. You know why? Because they looked up to them and wondered how they got attention all the time. And so did I. It is one of the reasons why I started studying Marketing at a business school. Because it was crisis, I had difficulties finding a working student position, ending up on the PR-department of Ford of Netherlands, while my main subject was Marketing. I never presumed or expected, this knowledge would bring me and the business I worked for so much, over and over again.
The PR-manager, running publicity for Ford Motor Company, had invited me to work with him, teaching me this media attention discipline, called Public Relations. Once I worked there: he blew my mind. He was able to influence, the headlines of the news on TV, Radio, Online and offline media with one simple document. A document with information crafted in a way that it was easily picked up by media. It started with the definition of news that he had: “everything that diverts from normal, is news”. A document sent to specific persons through printed post (it was 1998) and the whole of the Netherlands would learn, see or hear about it the next day, if everything done right and a healthy dose of luck was granted from above.
Once graduating business school and university, it was again economic crisis and this time I was looking for a real job. I was a Marketing bachelor of Arts and a Master of Business Administration, but nobody wanted me. So, I ended up taking a job that would set the main course of my career: PR-assistant at Volkswagen Netherlands. Within two years I became PR-Manager of Audi and 4 years after that Chief Communications of IKEA Netherlands and ended my corporate career at Jumbo & La Place.
My secret weapon and unfair advantage that everyone overlooked or did not notice: the good old press release, sent in a way that email marketers would do to convert consumers to buy. I have written and seen tons of press releases throughout the years and I have been becoming pretty good in estimating if it would pick up or not. With click open rates between 50-60% which a regular e-mail Marketer could only dream about. By being persistent and implementing a regular flow of press releases, I made these brands Millions of Marketing money and billions of exposure.
1st hour: Hack Google News
It doesn’t matter in which market, niche, online or offline you work or if you a business, work at a corporate or non-profit. Just put your product or service subject in Google News, sort the results over time and study what media in your country or global have been publishing. Make an excel and write down the headlines of the articles that resonate in your direction, the writer and if possible phone number and the e-mail address of the editorial office or journalist.
2nd hour: Hack the headline
Just hit Google or Youtube and type: “How to craft an attention grabbing headline”. You will be astonished about how many people have written and filmed “how to’s” for literally everything. A faster way to get a version that is regular in your market or niche, is to study the PR or Press release section of your competitor and download a couple of their releases. Model it to your own version and you are good to go. Bonus hack: test your headline with a headline analyzer, also used for e-mail marketing.
3rd hour: Hack the press release
Now the heavy lifting starts, but no worries, we have you covered. I discovered the first Press Release generator in 2004, and it is still there, these days we have modernised versions like Prowly. With a trip down memory lane, as I am a little bit nostalgic and used the one from 2004 and as simple things may look, it took me less than 30 minutes to make it look like this:
Simple tool cut, copy and pasted into Google Docs. Now as this is just an example I made for this blog, you get the essence right? Please select some cool editorial photos to send along, however try to avoid free stock photo. Never send your press release in PDF, always include the Word document, because it makes it easy for journalists to cut, copy and paste your message. Make sure you have no spelling errors and decent grammar.
4th hour: Hack your distribution to news outlets
As you made “the media list” in the first hour, you can copy and paste the email addresses in the “BCC” field of your email. Don’t include photos as heavy attachments, if you choose to, do it in a light version and make the heavy ones downloadable: through Google Drive or a bit.ly link. Why bitly? Because you can measure how often it was clicked. If you want to take it to the right level, sign up for a free Mailchimp account, take one of the ready made email templates and make it your own. The bitly’s will be replaced by a beautiful dashboard with click-open statistics. You can even choose to alter the headline and send the press release again to the ones that did not open the first time. If you have some cash, the best way is to take a paid press release distribution tool.
I hope you can see that it is not that difficult to do. I would like to emphasize that this is not something to play around with. Media and journalists are taken to be serious and not exposed to b*llshit. Know that it is always a good idea to consult a PR Agency or freelance expert in this field too. There are no guarantees for success, but if you ask Bill Gates: