When it comes to public relations and publicity, what the public sees becomes "the truth."  It isn't what happened that counts, it's what people think happened. Politicians use this to their advantage by staging events, carefully selecting when to release bad news, and having clever speechwriters and "handlers" give just the right "spin" to what they say.

But ordinary business people (and all of you budding entrepreneurs) need to pay attention to this as well. Prepare for interviews (see Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity for detailed instructions),  watch your body language, brush up your grammar and spelling if necessary (see Five Fast Steps to BETTER Writing if you need help), and never underestimate how savvy your audience is.

Several p.r. experts commented on this in terms of current (and past) U.S. political candidates. But the advice holds for anyone in the public eye.

    John Edwards wore a sport watch with his designer suit.
    New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson wore a red tie that reflected on his already ruddy complexion, making him look angry.
    Hillary Clinton wears suit jackets that are too stiff, and some men wear jackets that are too tight. Notice how male movie stars who are carrying excessive weight often wear a dark jacket, open, over a lighter shirt and pants that match the shirt.
    Men need to wear TV make-up, but have to be careful about foundation that's too light ( (Richard Nixon looked too pasty) or so dark they look as if they've been baking in a tanning bed.
     Comedy, especially in these days of YouTube, can come back to haunt you. If you think there's ever a chance that you'll run for office or become a CEO, don't go to a party in drag (Rudy Guliani), pose for photos with your tongue sticking out or making a silly face, or get drunk in public.

Keep in mind that actions, in fact, DO speak louder than words. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say."

IF A REPORTER  calls you, make sure that before you answer his questions, you ask him or her a few:

1. What is the story about? What angle is the reporter pursuing?

2. What kind of information does the reporter want?

3. Who else has the reporter spoken to - in your organization, in other organizations, in the government, etc.

4. Who else will the reporter call after interviewing you?

5. When is the deadline for the story? If it's not immediate, you should ask the reporter to call you back after you gather some information.

6. How much does this reporter already know about you, your business, organization, or this topic? Knowing this enables you to educate the reporter about the subject, correct misinformation, or cut to the meat of the story because the reporter already has the basic facts straight.

1. Think in terms of visuals.  Television is all about pictures.  Bring a visual to show your product or service, and if you're publicizing a book, don't assume the one you sent to the TV station (or even that specific reporter) will make it into the studio. Bring your own copy.

2. Come up with an angle.  Daily TV is bombarded by all kinds of new businesses and new books. The more unusual your ideas, the better chance you'll have.

3. Get to know which reporters cover which kinds of stories. Ask for the one who fits your story when you call, and pitch to that person, not to the receptionist or the producer.

4. Write your media release in a style that will allow the host or reporter could read it without any rewriting.

5. Time your pitch carefully. In most cases, Mondays through Thursdays are extremely busy, and nobody is particularly interested in hearing your pitch on a Friday, unless they've found themselves with a "hole" to fill for the weekend broadcast. Sundays and holiday periods are times when news directors are looking for stories to fill the gaps. If you have a book to pitch, avoid the peak fall season, when you'll be competing with potential best-sellers from the big publishers.  Spring is okay, but winter is even better.

For an excellent example of this, see Rick Becker's site: http://www.campusbliss.com/MediaRoomThe.html.  I mentored Rick through the production and marketing of his book, Empowering College Women.

If you feel you need voice training, consider the Estill Method, which is used by speakers, singers, and vocal coaches all over the world. Go to: http://estillvoice.com
to find out about this method. If you live in Ottawa, I can recommend a teacher here. Email me for her contact info.

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