The value of the media is such an incredible way to reach new audiences, engage with your target market and grow your business. Whether it’s through increased trust and credibility helping you close more sales or getting direct leads from your media releases, it’s an opportunity ready to be utilised.
In today’s episode, we take a deep dive into the world of press releases, digital distribution with the value of gaining access to the news wire, understanding the journalists you want to speak to, developing your releases and how they form a part of your marketing strategy. It’s a newsworthy episode 18 of the Digital Approach Podcast.
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Mickie Kennedy (00:00:00):
It is recognizing that journalists are gatekeepers and your job is to reverse engineer a way to make your information titillating and exciting. So he wants to, , or she wants to share it with their audience.
Ryan Fowler (00:00:15):
Welcome to the digital approach podcast. This show is brought to you by Orion Media Group, with the goal to help you an inspired business owner, remove the overwhelm from marketing in the online world, through success stories and practical strategies from entrepreneurs that have done it. There's plenty to come in this episode. So let's get into it. The value of the media is such an incredible way to reach new audiences, engage with your target market and grow your business. Whether it's through increased trust and credibility, helping you close more sales or getting direct leads from your media releases, it's an opportunity ready to be utilized. In today's episode, we take a deep dive into the world of press releases, digital distribution, with the value of gaining access to the news wire, understanding the journalists you want to speak to developing your releases and how they form part of your marketing strategy. It's a newsworthy episode, 18 of the digital approach podcast. Mickey Kennedy is the founder and president of eReleases this small business leader for press release distribution. Now celebrating 22 years in business. He's an expert at helping small businesses increase their visibility and credibility, and he's here today to share some incredibly valuable insights with us. Mickey, it's an absolute pleasure to have you here on the show. , welcome. Thank you so much for being here you
Mickie Kennedy (00:01:43):
Oh, you're very welcome. I, I love to just talk about things, press release related. So, you may have to stop me at some point.
Ryan Fowler (00:01:50):
That's all right. We, we've got plenty of time here, so, , we'll go through and, and really take a deep dive into press releases and, and especially eReleases, , because you are doing something really different to what the traditional press release has been, from what I can see and, and really helping a market that I personally feel needs the help as well, and really doing a great service. So the first thing I want to j p into and we'll j p into this straightaway is, is the business you've created and grown over the last 22 years being eReleases. Can you tell me what actually started your journey on this path? What, what got you excited about it and what was the key moment that made you actually wanna start the business?
Mickie Kennedy (00:02:28):
So, , it's funny, 25 years ago, I was finishing up a, , graduate degree in creative writing with an emphasis in poetry. And I had already made peace with the fact that I had probably be just, , waiting tables, the rest of my life and writing poetry in the evenings. And, , after graduating, I spent my first s mer waiting tables and realized it's very strenuous being on your feet, 10 hours a day on concrete. And at the end of the day, I felt psychologically just fried and I wasn't reading and I wasn't writing. So I'm like, I need to find a desk job. And so I got hired at a telecom research startup in DC and, , I was employee n ber three. And one of the things they said is you're the writer. So write some press releases and send them out to the media for us.
Mickie Kennedy (00:03:17):
And at the time we were, are faxing them. , and a lot of times we were publish, you know, publishing statistics and data and journalists would call and say, could you just, , email me, , those n bers, , it's much easier than working off of a fax. And so the light bulb went off and I thought, you know, electronic email is, , much better than faxing. And I started, , reaching a journalist and asking them if I could send 'em press releases. And I spent about a year collecting a journalist and had about 10,000 when I launched. And, , I guess that was 1998, , in October. Yeah.
Ryan Fowler (00:03:55):
Wow. So you've certainly been in this game for a while and building the email list early. That that was probably a pretty critical point of, of what you did to help get you into the business. So that key moment, when you actually decided to step into this as a business, what made you step away from, and it's not often that someone says actually want a desk job, and most people will say that they wanna be outside. , but I agree, , standing on your feet for 10 hours, probably isn't the most fun going through, into this. You've got your, your email list and, and what was the moment that you decided to step away from more of the corporate press release side with a, with a telco company to step into working with businesses and, and what made that switch for you?
Mickie Kennedy (00:04:33):
It was, , basically I was networking with other young professionals in the city. , there people who, , were, you know, basically doing telecom, , dot com, startups and things like that. And a lot of people were sharing that they didn't have a place to send press releases. , they said, I reached out to some PR firms for our company, but they're wanting like 6,000 a month and a one year commitment it. And I just felt like, Hey, there's a, there's a need for people to get, press releases out to the media and it not cost an arm and a leg to do so.
Ryan Fowler (00:05:10):
I think it's an incredibly valuable service that you've, that you're offering to, to connect that, especially with a small business market, because most small business owners and, and knowing this myself don't know how to approach media, you know, it takes time and practice and, and, , really a lot of failures before it comes. Right. So I think having that guidance is certainly certainly an important thing, but when you first started journalism, would've looked very different to what it does now. What are some of those key differences you've actually noticed between when you first started and, and off with that 10,000 email list to where eReleases is now and how that's changed?
Mickie Kennedy (00:05:47):
Well, over the years, , we started working with PR news wire. , they're the oldest and largest news wire of, of press releases in the us. And, , they charged over a thousand dollars to move a release nationally, , through them. And they approached me about sending our releases through them. And I pointed out that my customers couldn't afford that. And so, , we worked it out so that it was a win-win situation. We schedule our releases for next business day, and they have a editorial team overnight that doesn't, isn't very active, but they have to be there in case breaking news comes in. And so they can set up our releases overnight. So it doesn't cost some additional labor and stuff like that. So we were able to, to work out a, a, an arrangement so that all of our customers receive a custom national distribution over the wire plus that email distribution they've always got.
Mickie Kennedy (00:06:36):
But the biggest thing I noticed working with the wire was the evolution of media. , at the time when we started working with them, they weren't very accepting of bloggers. And at the time there was in the telecom space, , several bloggers that were more important than trade publications, and they slowly started to accept bloggers into, , receiving their releases and signing up for the journalists login with the wire. And now they've done a 180, , they're very free giving journalists, credentials and logins to social media influencers. For example, in the fashion arena, there are Instagram, , influencers that are more important than, , fashion mag zines. So, , they've, they've done a, a, a, they're recognizing that media's coming from so many different places and they're adapting to it, which I think is really good.
Ryan Fowler (00:07:27):
I think that's a very valuable, , valuable point. The difference between, you know, what, what traditional news was, and, and it was kind of a slow evolution, wasn't it into accepting how the digital space has changed it.
Mickie Kennedy (00:07:39):
Absolutely. And I think it's only going to continue to evolve. I know that there's the progression to video, and I know that at some point the press release is going to probably change from written to video. I don't know how that's going to evolve yet, but I just see so much of the media that we're cons ing, moving towards, , video, , Facebook said, , I think a year or so ago that they expect by 2025, that a hundred percent of their feed, , will be video and not the, the written text that, , we are so, , used to seeing their interspersed with video.
Ryan Fowler (00:08:15):
Yeah. And the, and the change of how even Instagram now, it, they, I, instant Graham has publicly put out there that they are no longer a photo sharing platform. They are a video sharing platform, , the rise of TikTok and Snapchat and all these other other platforms though. I can certainly see where the evolution of that press release is going. And I think it's gonna be an important change over time as well. There was something that you mentioned a minute ago of how the press is getting their news and, and how that's related, , or relayed to them, I should say. So when originally, when you started, there were a lot of journalists that were happy for you to email them and send them, you know, the press releases and, and get straight to them. Now, though, I know that something that we've been told I can already, I can already see you laughing here, right. Is something that we've been told is, you know, send, press releases to journalists, and you've gotta get this out there, or there's news shoutouts, or, you know, call outs for stories what's changed in that space to go from where journalists have been excited to get someone's press release to where, where it is. Now's like a bit of overwhelm. Right.
Mickie Kennedy (00:09:20):
Right. I think what's happened is there's lots of media databases that are just available for a subscription in some ways. I think that's great. , but in the other respect, what's happened is people are doing shotgun approach of their messaging. So your messaging on your product, which might be cons er electronic is going to, you know, sports coaches and, , , off target people, just because in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't cost any more to blast it to 50,000 journalists than it would be to send it very focus to 1500. And so there's a lot of off target releases to the point that it's overwhelming for a lot of journalists to go through their email. And I think that that's where the news wire is so valuable to journalists because, , they can go in and for example, look at the fashion feed, but they can also customize with their login by excluding certain keywords or requiring certain keywords be in there so that they can really make the feed that they see very specific to them and their beat and what they cover. And so I, I think that that's made the news wire so much more valuable to, , companies trying to get the, their news out so that, , it's a, it's a place the journalists are going to, because it's much easier to navigate that than it is their own inbox.
Ryan Fowler (00:10:44):
Okay. So just on that, explain the news wire to me a little bit more, because right now, especially if there's, you know, some younger businesses listening, it's the demographic for the people that listen to this podcast are sort of in that 30 odd 30 to 40 range, roughly. So just explain the news wire a little bit, because obviously there are people that would know about what that is and just break it down into, into what it was originally and to where it's evolved into.
Mickie Kennedy (00:11:12):
Right. So originally it was just, , electronic feeds to newsrooms. And, , there was usually a terminal there that would just spit the wire. Sometimes it would print it to these dot matrix printers. Sometimes it would just be available, , electronically for, for people to, to, to use. And some of that involved satellite broadcasting as well, it was very labor intensive. So the news wire charged a lot for it. It's changed and migrated over time. Most people just get a login, so they can just log in with their credentials and create their custom feed and, and make the, the wire very specific to them. And, , as a result, the costs are, should be cheaper because there's, you don't have the infrastructure costs that you used to have. But that being said that the, you know, the news, wire's still very pricey cuz they recognize it's a place where publicly traded companies have to go. And a lot of other large companies are just used to spending the money, , to send the stuff or the a wire. So I will say that it is very expensive. , you know, it, it, it does make it difficult for a lot of small businesses and entrepreneurs and startups to afford. But that being said, there is a lot of value to it.
Ryan Fowler (00:12:25):
Yeah. That's a great, , insight there because if we are trying to get our own PR and our own press as a small business owner, we don't have a access to that sort of thing. Unless like you mentioned, there's a big budget. Having access to that really does bring, , a point of difference, , for, for how that media is being collated. And is that going to be the first point that most news companies will refer to before looking at their own inbox?
Mickie Kennedy (00:12:50):
I think it is for alar, a large swath of journalists, but that being said, there are still some that, you know, prefer email. I doubt many are, are still sticking to faxes and stuff like that. But, , , I know a guy that used to still publish fax n bers for certain journalists who preferred faxing. And he said, the great thing about this is he says, there's no competition. So if you reach these journalists and you're, you're in their beat, you will probably get media pickups. So I, I think that it, it, it's, it's evolving. I think that there are some that use Twitter and , you know, DMing them through Twitter is, is an avenue for reaching them. I think it's a matter of just recognizing that the pathways has become a little fragged recommended to, you know, because people are not only cons ing media in different places.
Mickie Kennedy (00:13:39):
They're also communicating in different places, whether it's Facebook messenger or their email inbox. And so it's just good to sort of take advantage of all of those things when you're trying to get media attention. You know, I always recommend that the easiest media attention you can get is local, cuz there's less than 10 people in your local market who would write about you. Your job is to do a little research and find out who they are, who at the newspaper would probably write about your company or industry. , if you're lucky enough to have a business magazine or newspaper who there would write about you and you just ask for their email address, it's, it's as simple as they, they don't, you know, they're not trying to hide it. They are trying to be accessible. And so, , most of them are willing to share their information and , you know, there might be TV or radio segments that occasionally spotlight businesses find out who the producer or Booker of that show is.
Mickie Kennedy (00:14:32):
And, , just reach out to these people, try to do what at least quarter early and introduce yourself. And if you have a pitch, what it is that you're launching, you don't even have to do a press release. You just have to give them an idea of a story they feel their readers or viewers would want to, to know about. So it, it is recognizing that journalists are gatekeepers and your job is to reverse engineer a way to make your information titillating and exciting. So he wants to, , or she wants to share it with their audience.
Ryan Fowler (00:15:03):
That's great. And, and now just on that point, when we are looking to pitch whether it's local, regional or national, or even national global news, , as you know, so much opportunity is now like even this podcast, , would still be considered global, , reach because there's listeners in all different countries around the world. So this is still a, a digital form of radio. Now that's, that's really evolved, but when you're pitching two journalists or podcasters or now video producers or whoever it might be, what's going to make your news story and to put it in your words, so titillating to get them to come back and actually say, yes, we wanna run a story on this.
Mickie Kennedy (00:15:42):
I think for me, it, it really boils down to knowing what your, , us P is unique selling proposition. We work with a out of the shark tank, people who appear on that show, , they recommend that they do a press release before their episode airs and they often get media attention. And part of it is that they're going on a national, , TV show that's recognized, but also I think a big thing is they know their story very well and they know what they're doing and why it's different than what ever everyone else has done in that industry before. And so I think owning your story, being authentic, , knowing what makes you different and, , showcasing that is a great way to, to really carve out why you matter and why your story is different than someone else's.
Ryan Fowler (00:16:31):
Yeah, definitely. And, and there's a few things that make up sort of the pitch and, and how you put your press release together, whether it's going out over the news wire or if it's going to, , a local PR, even if it's just in an email, I know that I've sent an email to an editor that was local to me here and, and the story got printed, you know, pretty much word for word. So when it comes to actually creating these press releases and, and starting to put the, put the pieces together, what are the key elements that really make them up?
Mickie Kennedy (00:16:57):
I think that having a really succinct and concise, , headline that really gets to the meat of what it is you're announcing is important. You wanna avoid puns and, you know, being h orous and little clips and things like that. , that's generally what the new papers write themselves, but for you, you're trying to respect them and their short attention span because they have to skim so much that you want to get to what, what it is that you're announcing, you know, for those reasons, the opening sentence I paragraph is most imperative, , what it is that you're announcing it's, it's generally pretty you, it can be formulaic and that's not a bad thing because, , the part that shouldn't be formulaic is what you're announcing. And so many people get bogged down with the details of writing the release. And I'd say that's probably the least important aspect of it.
Mickie Kennedy (00:17:50):
The most important being what it is that you're actually announcing. And so many people say we have a new product it's launched. We need to sell a lot. And a lot of people to know about it. So here's a press release just pushing this product and what they should have done is, you know, thought of the gatekeeper. Instead, we have this product it's really great. Why would your audience care? Let's write the story from that perspective. Maybe put some case studies or use studies in the press release so that it's very easy and understandable why an audience, , would, would want to read this and share that, you know, , experience with them. And, , if you can just figure that out, you'll have a, a, a much more successful time with PR
Ryan Fowler (00:18:35):
Okay. And although it is formulaic and, and there's a format usually that these will follow what, what is sort of that format that they're going to to start writing this in?
Mickie Kennedy (00:18:46):
Yeah. It's usually headline. And if you use a service like E releases, you don't have to worry about the date line, which is usually city state date of, of the release. And, , you know, the date's put in there by the wire. So you don't have to worry about putting the wrong date in there. It'll always be the date that the release is issued. Then there'll be the opening paragraph, maybe some supporting paragraphs within those. You would want to include a quote and a quote is the thing that's overlooked the most because there's usually written, , safe. They don't say anything interesting. And a quote is the one place where you can stand up and guarantee that your company will be mentioned in the press release. Cuz if they use your quote, they have to say who you are. And that you're with the comp this company though, a lot of times editors will cross off, , small companies in an article because they're just like, I've never heard of this company.
Mickie Kennedy (00:19:37):
Why are they even in here? Let me just cross 'em out. They don't realize that they inspired the story through a press release. , but if they have an amazing quote in there, the, the managing editors gonna say, yeah, I see why this company is listed, but cuz that's an amazing quote. And , you wanna say something that can't easily be paraphrased if, if it was, there'd be a loss, some magic to the way it was written, how concise and how it flowed. That's the one place you can be a little poetic. , so that, that helps quite a bit. And then, , towards the end of the release, there's usually a boiler plate about sex and it's usually about company and that usually gets recycled and used in other releases. If you are working on a press release, that's really long, you can sometimes even exclude that if you're trying to keep the word count, , within range and then your media contact information, and that's usually a person's name, , telephone n ber and email address. And, and you, you really want to make sure you have a phone n ber because sometimes a journalist would be working on a story they're it's been posted. And then they say, we've got a, we've got a question, a clarification question, , on one aspect of the story. And if they can't get ahold of you, the story won't run. And once it get gets pulled, it's sometimes harder to put that genie back in the bottle later. So you really wanna make sure you're available and you do answer your phone calls,
Ryan Fowler (00:21:00):
All right, with that in mind. And, and that format kind of laid out. Let's just look into this a little bit more because there's a few things that you've mentioned in the past couple of, , answers that I really just wanna look a little bit more into. So the first one is you've mentioned getting to know the journalist of who you're trying to pitch this to. If you are pitching especially more locally or regionally, I, I imagine that pitching nationally would be a lot harder, but pitching locally or regionally, how do you actually get know the journalists? What, what are some of the key factors to look for in that
Mickie Kennedy (00:21:30):
It's basically knowing what their beat is and what they write about. For example, a lot of times when you're pitching directly through email or through a phone call, knowing that they recently wrote about someone in your industry on a different topic, you can actually use that sort of a, a springboard to why this topic that you're bringing into light, , is, is, is very timely. And it builds on that conversation and why you, , would make a great, , you know, company, , to, to, in, in light of this story. And so just knowing that, I mean, if you're reaching out to people in your industry, it's often the same story or for, for them, you know, cause they cover the industry and you're just shaping the story, but you want to be able to respond to them when they say, oh, I kind of did something like that a few weeks ago.
Mickie Kennedy (00:22:22):
Well, oh yeah. I saw that story and this is why I think ours is different. And I, this is why I think to different perspective. And I think that a lot of people who read that story would be very interested in this side of it. So just being able to sometimes defend and , clarify is really important. And you know, having these back and forth conversations with journalists is, is, is really good because journalists at the end of the day are looking to make their job easier. And you know, they've got so much content that they have to p p out. And like you said, you, you, you turned in a story to your, a local, , media and they reign it as is. , sometimes these people are so busy that if you've got something that they can work with, they can just take it, , you know, as it is and, and work with it, you find that at local newspapers, , it being very common because they're just so slammed and you know, they're people wearing lots of different hats. So, , anything make their job
Ryan Fowler (00:23:20):
Awful lot. Don't I,
Mickie Kennedy (00:23:22):
Yeah. So anything you can do to make their job easier and respectful of their time and , you know, you really don't wanna twist anyone's arm, but you do want to forcefully try to get them to understand why this is different and why, , your audience should care.
Ryan Fowler (00:23:38):
I love that approach to it is you're being helpful, but you're not trying to over help them. You're still saying, yes, I want this because it is for my business. Right.
Mickie Kennedy (00:23:46):
Ryan Fowler (00:23:47):
So the other, th the other two things in there is, is n ber one is the headline. Let's just look into that a little bit more and break that down because that's obviously the attention grabber that, you know, most journalists would want to look at. And then the other one is a quote you've mentioned how important the quote is, but I I'd love to get a couple of examples of how good they actually are. And, and some really good ones that you've done in the past
Mickie Kennedy (00:24:07):
When you're writing the headline, you, you, you want to stand up and, and, and, and sort of shout why you matter. And, , you don't wanna be over the top because you wanna have a proper tone that's professional, but you really want to, to, to, to get across that, you know, this is what I'm announcing. This is, this is, this is, this is the relevant story. And I think that a lot of times, , smaller businesses don't really know what that is. And so they tend to do the, put a little bit of everything in the press release, and then they try to have the headline sort of blast announce three or four different messages. And you really wanna make it specific to, to one, , one, one message. And you want it to carry through as the theme of the press release that you're writing. And so, you know, it's just like a book cover. You want it to be compelling and interesting, but you also want people to have an idea idea of what's going to come next. So you don't wanna be mysterious to the point of excluding people from wanting to read farther, because they feel like maybe this is irrelevant to me, but you want them to, you know, easily access what it is that you're, , ultimately presenting or pitching.
Ryan Fowler (00:25:26):
Okay. So really one idea and, and try to encapsulate that with a little bit of curiosity while still, , bringing, you know, a sense of what it actually is. Right?
Mickie Kennedy (00:25:35):
Right. And if you ever want to look at a good example, just type into Google images, , cosmopolitan magazine cover, and, , look at some of the headlines they have on their cover, cuz they, they have amazing writers who have these titillating headlines that just get you want, they get women to just open that magazine and turn to page 47 because they want to know what is the one mistake you might be making in the bedroom that, , you, you may not be aware of and things like that, that just really, you know, get people interested in hook. And they do it in a way that I don't think is too, they don't work with puns. They, you know, they make it very specific of what they're talking about and, and that's something, you know, a great model I think for people to learn from,
Ryan Fowler (00:26:23):
I love your excitement just as you were sharing that you were just so excited about how good Cosmo fellow it's in magazine's headlines were. It was
Mickie Kennedy (00:26:30):
Ryan Fowler (00:26:31):
I think I've seen,
Mickie Kennedy (00:26:32):
There was a journalist who told me, he said, , he said, if you ever want a great headline, just go to Google images and type cosmopolitan magazine cover and look at those. And he goes, I don't know who they are, , who writes those headlines, but man, they are great because they do the job of getting people so interested that they want to just open that magazine and start reading.
Ryan Fowler (00:26:55):
I know that they've been practicing that for a very long time. , Cosmo, , has been around for a very long time and, and obviously they've built such a great audience out of it. And obviously the other thing that they would do. And the thing that you mentioned before is bring in a lot of really good quotes into those stories. So on page 47, if they had a good quote, what would that look like? And, and can you give us some examples of some that you've done for, for small businesses?
Mickie Kennedy (00:27:19):
I see. So I think like a typical quote would be like, we feel this merger would create a synergy between the two companies and be good for cons ers and that's sort of like telling and not showing. And it's just like, it seems very corporate. And so what you want to do is it's like, why is this important for cons ers? And it's like, you know, by combining the, these two, , these two entities, we're able to create, , a projected 17% in efficiencies and savings. And we hope to pass that along to cons ers, , with additional discounts and things like that to specificity. And I think that anytime you can take something that's vague and generalized and make it specific, , I think makes it very useful. Another thing that you can do is just be like creative with the language, just everything active verbs, you know, really making it sound powerful and , you know, really get to the heart of it because so many of these things just seem like they were written in committee and some of them probably were, they probably sat in a board room and said, what do you think should go here?
Mickie Kennedy (00:28:33):
They're just like, oh, here, it's like, everybody's gonna say something safe. , cuz nobody wants to say something that's controversial or going to get them in trouble. So it generally is just safe and vague and corporate speak.
Ryan Fowler (00:28:47):
Yeah. And if, I dunno if you're a fan of, of the show Brooklyn 99, but if it sounds like something captain halt would say, yeah, then it's probably not right for a quote.
Mickie Kennedy (00:28:56):
Ryan Fowler (00:28:58):
So just, just in saying this, , I love the insights that you've shared with us there, but I just wanna slightly shift this conversation across to look at how press releases are not just for news stories and, and how you can get a message out there, but actually used as a proper marketing strategy in your business to generate more business over time. Cuz there's obviously short term and long term benefits to this. So could you just break down how that looks incorporating that into a mark strategy?
Mickie Kennedy (00:29:27):
Sure. So some of the goals that people look for with the press release is getting it published and hopefully getting customers from that or leads and that does happen and it can be really big. And I've had people who have had, you know, like major sales as a result of a press release. We had one press release. We did that's in our case studies on our website, , that generated over 10 million in revenue and got 150 articles, including wall street journal, New York times, all the food trade, , public, , did a story wow. On, you know, this dining bond initiative that was early in the pandemic only lived for a very short time, but it was meant to help, , , restaurants that were closed during the pandemic. And it create, it was like very grassroots. And basically you would nominate your local favorite restaurant that was closed at the time and they would contact them.
Mickie Kennedy (00:30:22):
And if they accepted, you could give money and it would be secured through a dining bond for like a gift certificate. And it was something that did really well, I think because it was positive news at a time where there was so much negative news, but it just shows you the leverage ability of PR and a wire, for example, because we stopped count it 150 sources. There was probably another 150 to 250 small newspapers that covered it because every time we were doing a search, we were finding more and more of these, , local, , , stories that are just small little newspapers. And so that's the real power of, if you have something that's really newsworthy or you putting yourself, , news centric first, you can, you can really get that leverage capability with press release that you can't with say paid marketing because it's very unlikely that you're gonna take $300 and spend it on Google ads and spit out more than $10 million in revenue.
Mickie Kennedy (00:31:20):
But you know, that's exactly what happened to here. , it was one press release. It was done for free as a courtesy, but , it would've cost $300 to have sent it and it generated, you know, millions of dollars and created lots of Goodwill. Once you have, you know, those customers. That's great. It's easy to look at that and say, that's my ROI. But sometimes you don't get the immediate customers, you get some immediate traffic, you get some links, , that are to you. , but it is an opportunity. So if you get an actual earned media or article that was written about you, based on it, you take that and recycle it, share it on your social media, send it to your customers, , send it to your leads is so easy to convert leads when you are putting in front of them. Hey, this company wrote about us and we wanted to share that story.
Mickie Kennedy (00:32:11):
They sit there and said, well, I've been on the fence about this company for a while. And now I see, you know, , this, this company has, , basically given an implied endorsement for them through, by publishing them. And all of a sudden they're much more likely to convert. So, , you want to take advantage of that. You wanna recycle it, get that story out there, , you know, create a news section on your website. And if you, you know, some of my clients, don't being small business owners and they're too busy. If you have a blog, publish your press releases there, , just get your content on your website, , make it easy for people to discover you and find you whether it's through search engines or directly through articles and links, , in publications that, that, that run it. But you know, it, it runs the gamut of what can happen with an article.
Mickie Kennedy (00:33:01):
Like I said, sometimes it can generate a lot of, , revenue, but in some cases it's harder to measure, but you know that as you do more of it, you see the business improving, you see more conversions coming, you see more leads coming in. And so it is one of those things. That's almost like a self-fulfilling, , aspect of a business that the, the businesses that succeed and do well are often the startups who put so much energy and time in PR. And a lot of the smaller companies, I see that struggle. Don't spend a lot of time in PR they spend it more on paid marketing and paid marketing is so hard to get right. And it's so to make it work and to make it scalable. But with PR it's, it's one of those things that you can continue to feed and not spend a lot of money and potentially get some great returns.
Ryan Fowler (00:33:50):
There's so much competition in the paid marketing space that I, I totally agree with. You PR can offer such a good opportunity. And going back to your campaign that you did on the, on the dining release now I'm, I'm based in Australia, you are based in Baltimore, Maryland. I actually heard about that campaign here and it, and it picked up traction in Australia's media as well. So it got huge global reach from what I could see. , and honestly, I, I didn't actually know that you'd done that. , so it's pretty, , pretty amazing to, to meet the person behind the, the release that went out and started that campaign going out. And it really does show the power of what a good release can do. You mentioned over time that you can build, you know, more traffic, more leads and that sort of thing coming through. But when you start to get more PR and more press and, and traditional media, like you mentioned, giving those endorsements that starts to build trust and authority in your business. And how does that then translate into continuing and increasing the compound curve of trust?
Mickie Kennedy (00:34:54):
So I think that the thing about trust and authority is that as people bestow that upon you, it gets easier to get more and to curate it. And, , and, and, you know, basically make it work for you. I had a local carpet company in New Jersey come to me and say, we wanna do a PR campaign. And I'm just like, I don't think that it's gonna work for you. They were a local car company. They weren't doing anything original or unique. And they said, well, we've got X amount of dollars and we wanna do 12 releases over the next 12 months. So I said, okay. And after about five months of feeling really guilty taking their money and doing five releases where nothing happened, I went back to them and we brainstormed. And I, I was like, you know, is there something in your industry that people aren't talking about?
Mickie Kennedy (00:35:47):
Like, who's your enemy or hero? And they immediately said, oh, it's the big box home improvement stores. , like the, here we have Lowe's and home Depot. And they were just like, they are killing the small carpet companies. They hire any home improvement company, even if they've never installed carpet before, as long as they have a license to be in home improvement, they will hire them if, you know, for, for a job and they'll come in and they'll mess up the carpet. We'll have to come in later and stretch it or replace the padding. And it's just really, we hate it. And so I said, let's write a press release about that. And then we sort of took a Dave and Goliath approach of like this local carpet company in New Jersey having to fight these well funded, giant com , companies that are basically just selling leads, , and to home improvement people.
Mickie Kennedy (00:36:38):
And, you know, they have to use their carpet, but other than that, all the labor and customer service and everything is just outsourced. And so it did phenomenally well over 10 floor trade publications picked it up. The customer said they didn't didn't realize there were that many out there. And, , we continued to, to work that marketing angle over a few, your other releases and one, , of the publications offered a marketing, , col n to my customer. And they were like, no, we're not interested because, , you know, we, we already pay Mickey to write our releases as it is. And so it just showed that there was a blind spot, that industry where a lot of these carpet companies aren't talking about marketing, and it turns out there was a need for it. Customers reacted very well. These, the customers being, , subscribers to these floor trade publications, which were other local carpet companies.
Mickie Kennedy (00:37:30):
Now I pointed that out to my customer and said, look, we've gotten you all this great press, but they're not customers of carpets. They are other carpet companies. And they said, yes, but watch what we do. And they had this big photo alb where they put all of their, , printouts of all of their coverage and made this big binder. They caught it a brag book. And every time they went to give a quote to a customer, they would th b through it and say, look, we may not come in with the cheapest, , rate, but all of our installers are salaried. Many of 'em work for us for a long time. We are serious about floors and here floor trade weekly wrote a col n about us. , this company picked up, , a New Jersey magazine covered us a local newspaper. So they went through that with them and they started converting more than 10%, , at a high, higher conversion rate than previously.
Mickie Kennedy (00:38:22):
As a matter of fact, they started to raise their rates a little bit more because they were getting too many, , customers. , they were, they were closing too many sales. That's a good problem to have, right. And it was just by using that brag book. And so I was concerned that I was taking their money. And then when I did get them, press it wasn't with customers reading it, but they said that that's fine. We, we can take this and put it in front of our leads. And as we're going through a quote, we go through the book with them. And that implied endorsement of all these covering you really made the homeowner feel like, you know, when it comes down to an extra two or three, $400 in quotes, I'm gonna go with the company that has this big book and has been recognized nationally by all these floor trade publications, , rather than somebody I've never heard of,
Ryan Fowler (00:39:11):
That's it. And, and I love how they've leveraged the publicity that they've got. So even if it wasn't exactly the right market, , we'll say that they've still been able to leverage that and, and use that trust in authority. So I love that example, the one you did with the dining, that's a fantastic example. I, I'm gonna put you on the spot here and say, is there another success story or something fun that you've done where business that you might not think would get a huge amount of content in a press release? Is there something else that you've done where the results have seen something so different happen, but it's really helped them benefited the business?
Mickie Kennedy (00:39:48):
Right? So I, I had one customer come to me and say, you know, I know I've been a very difficult customer, and this was someone who didn't know what their unique selling proposition was. They didn't know what they were doing that made them different than everybody else, but they went through the exercises, they went through the motions, they did the research. And they said, I recently, my, my n ber two employee, , came to me and said, you know what? A couple months ago, I started looking for another job and what's changed over the last couple months is you've started to really define what we do here. And we all can communicate the same story about who we are and what we're about. And she says, I actually can now tell people, this is what my company does. And before I never really understood what we did.
Mickie Kennedy (00:40:42):
And she said, it's funny. She says, our website has changed, , reflecting more of who we are. We're converting people better because we're understanding who we are and we're explaining it better. So just going through the exercise, making yourself receptive to media attention, by defining narrowly what your story is and how you're authentic and how you're a different, , you know, your, your hero journey as it is, , is, is really powerful. And, , in that, in that case, that person said that things have never been better at that company and that people seem energized. And every time they do a press release, even if it doesn't generate articles, because that's another secret about all this, not every press release is gonna generate articles. On average, if you do strategic press releases, say, , , one PR campaign of six to eight, you might only see three or four of those get articles.
Mickie Kennedy (00:41:41):
And, , you know, there are certain ones that will almost always get articles. And, , we can talk about that in a little bit, but, , basically that's a survey or study. I always recommend that to people who don't feel that they have anything right now to announce though, conduct a survey or study in your industry and then publish it. And as the author, you will get media attention. And on average, a good survey or study press release will often generate between anywhere from six to 14 articles, , within your industry. And you know, that, and that's a really good payoff. , I, and I do have some tips about how to properly do the survey and how to easily get people to, to respond to the survey.
Ryan Fowler (00:42:24):
Just on that point of industries about, you know, where these press releases are going out to, and, and who they're being pitched to, what certain industries are gonna work better, , with press releases, then, you know, maybe some others and what what's the distinction to try and look for when you're choosing an industry to market to,
Mickie Kennedy (00:42:42):
Right. So I think if you work within a normal industry, like let's say cons er electronics, you should do really well. Even B to B works very well. If you have a lot of trade publication in your industry, if you're in an industry where there's not a lot of trade publications, I think it might be a little more difficult. It's also extremely difficult to get published with a book, being an author. And it used to be that we only worked with self-published authors, but now we work with authors who are published through traditional publishers, because many of them no longer do the PR and marketing for their clients. And so, you know, people who are published through the large publishers are now, you know, looking at eReleases and having to use services like ours, to get their own messaging out. And it's difficult because, you know, it's so hard to convey what's in a book in a press release, and unless you've, , published stuff before, or you're a known entity, it's very hard to, to, to break in there. So I always tell people it's really like a, a, a, a, not a good lottery ticket for, , you know, a lot of book publishers, but that being said, I non-fiction does work better because it really gets to the meat of what it is that you're announcing. And what you're saying in this book, that's different from any other book that's been published, and that's easier to articulate, , when you're writing nonfiction than it is to you say a novel or something like that.
Ryan Fowler (00:44:12):
So on that, on that point of authors, if it's not gonna of reach too many people to get the publicity, what can authors do to still utilize a media release and make sure it's targeted enough to actually get some promotion out of it?
Mickie Kennedy (00:44:27):
I think that dropping a press release and then sharing it on for s, sharing it with your social media, it's expected now that every author has to have us their own social media, and they sort of cultivate their own community. And so sharing it with your community, hitting other like-minded people involved, , there's a lot of almost like for s, like good reads and places like that, where people talk about books and they make suggestions. So, you know, entering the conversation, sharing what you do, it is very gorilla marketing and it's, it's very fragmented and it's difficult and it's tedious, but you know, it, it's one of those things that over time, the people that you build and draw into your community, the easier it's going to be with your second book and subsequent books. And over time, it gets easier. , but it does, it is very labor intensive.
Ryan Fowler (00:45:25):
Yeah. So it's really looking to the long term projection and the long term plan, if you're an author trying to use that release, right. That lease model and strategy. The other thing that you brought up before were surveys, and I've heard a couple of your past interviews, , where you've talked about surveys. So just share a little bit more about what an industry survey actually looks like and how a business can start to utilize that.
Mickie Kennedy (00:45:47):
Right? So basically it's as easy as using survey monkey or Google little forms to ask questions that would be really relevant right now in your industry. You don't want these to be necessarily evergreens. You kind of wanna take into account what's going on right now in your industry. That's specific to you. , right. Now's a really great time because we're coming out of the pandemic. Some people are like, oh, there's a new, very how, you know, how do people feel right now? Are you concerned? Are you hiring or not hiring? What are you finding challenging? , are you spending more on marketing, less, , you know, do you think the worst is over, you know, all of those type of things people would want to know right now. And it's the thing that if you're at a conference and you're, you know, talking to other people, you'd be like, wow, how has the last couple years been for you?
Mickie Kennedy (00:46:40):
, what what's, what's your challenge right now? What's the biggest, you know, obstacle given the situation that we're in right now. So if you can take, , their temperature that your industry's temperature on this and get some responses, people in your industry are gonna want to sh , to, to, to know what the results are. And they're gonna wanna share the things you take, the survey, which is just a link, and you share it with an audience. If you don't have the audience, find one, , small and independent trade associations exist it in almost every industry, , find a good one and ask if they will send that link to their members and, , tell them that you'll mention them in the press release, that you'll be issuing nationally over the wire. Most of them will do it. The small and independent trade associations. Don't get a lot of love.
Mickie Kennedy (00:47:32):
It all goes to the big giant trade associations. So if this is an opportunity for them to get some PR two, they're going to see it as a win-win. They send it out to their members, you get the responses, you then analyze the, the data and what was surprising, what was not surprising. And then you want to, , build a story and a press release of this is, this was the most interesting takeaway that we saw in this press release than an amazing quote as to why this is so important. You, you putting some analysis as to why people might feel this way, and then you can, you know, allude to where all the data exists for all questions. , you can have a page for that and you can link to it, but you really want the press release to be about the most important takeaways or surprises or aha moments that existed in the survey.
Mickie Kennedy (00:48:20):
I always tell people, , I like survey monkey, cuz you can do multiple pages. So if someone abandons the survey, but they went through two of four page, you still got several responses to questions. And at the end, I like to throw a couple oddball questions. , sometimes these are like, you know, a hail Mary type questions. , but often they turn out to be the ones that go viral and do very well. , we had a auto repair shop in, , Pennsylvania that we did this approach and the question that they, , used, and it was open ended where they could just write two or three sentences was what's the strangest thing, a customer left in their car while being repaired. And it was not statistically relevant, but we got like more than 50 anecdotal stories that were just really interesting made people, , the media loved it, especially newspapers.
Mickie Kennedy (00:49:14):
And it did extremely well. They did the survey and study kicking and screaming. They felt it wouldn't work. We we're not important enough to do a survey. They had a big imposter syndrome going on. And then they were like, well, we wouldn't know who to send it to. And I'm like partner with a, a trade association and they go, oh yeah, we're members of like two or three. And so it was, it was just like, they felt it was so hard, but it, it really was very easy and straightforward and, and they did extremely well. They got over 10 auto trade publications, picked it up, their local newspaper. And , several other newspapers picked it up as well. They were looking SEO benefit cuz they had a new website. Their old website went dark over dispute with the yellow pages, which I guess they had a free website with the yellow pages. And I don't know what happened, but their website went dark and they had to get a new domain name and they were starting from scratch and they hated it. That when you typed in their city and auto repair, they were nowhere to be found within six months they were n ber one just by getting 10 auto trade links and a few newspapers. It was as easy as that. Well
Ryan Fowler (00:50:22):
That's a phenomenal result and, and there's so much packed into just that one answer there that I'm, I want to explore a little bit here first off. I want ask in those responses to that last question, what's some of the weirdest things you found doing a repair. What were some of your favorite answers?
Mickie Kennedy (00:50:38):
One was a boa constrictor. Another one was, , grandma left in an earn that had to be retrieved after hours because they were having Memorial service. , there was, , one was, , adult toys, , scattered throughout the backseat. Just things like that. And they were the type of things that resulted in lots of stories, the auto trade publications. They just used it to fill space though. In some says they published 10 of the most interesting, , stories, some published 20. I think the most that got published was 30 and we published a little over 50 of them on the website and we linked to it in the press release.
Ryan Fowler (00:51:20):
They're great. , I wouldn't wanna leave grandma's ashes in the backseat though while the camera getting prepared.
Mickie Kennedy (00:51:25):
Ryan Fowler (00:51:26):
The other, the other thing is I can see a potential for kind of how the campaign might work, what or might look is, and correct me if I'm wrong here. And, and I want you to elaborate on this is when you're starting to put this survey together, is there an opportunity for multiple releases in this, that one when you're putting it together to kind of analyze or say, you know, we're looking at what the current situation is to, to get the answers and then the other one with publishing the results as well. So it kind of tops and tails on both ends.
Mickie Kennedy (00:51:57):
I think that it probably is gonna work more publishing the results. I don't know that it's gonna work extremely well for soliciting responses. I think it's because the media responds the data and n bers and you don't have it yet when you're in just announcing that you're doing a survey, you might be asking, asking interesting questions, but there's no data there yet. So I think that you're, you really have to, I, I would focus the, the press release on working with the results. And you know, the one thing to know about this is that you can do this over time with multiple surveys and studies. I have one client, , clutch.co that does like, I think over 30 to 40 surveys a year, they do lots of little vertical industries and they do a survey for each one. And then just continue to do a, a new survey for each one. I'm not sure if they start over in a year, but it's, there's a, there's a, it's, there's a system to it. And they'll go back to that one industry a year later or sometime later, and they'll do a different survey and they'll ask different questions. taking into account what's going on right in now within that industry. And what kind of questions would people find, , compelling and interesting, and it it's, it's so repeatable that this is all they've done for multiple years is the surveys and studies.
Ryan Fowler (00:53:23):
That's great. And, and I appreciate you sharing that, that response to the question is, and the answer that you've given there, the company that's doing that. So clutch.co, they would then have a, a database and a backlog of, of libraries, of information, really, and data. Cause it's all about data collecting in terms of doing a survey and, and getting the responses out there. So what's, and, , I might ask a little more specifically about the, about Blu, but what specifically have they got in return for doing these surveys? Like the information wise to then sort of categorize that intermediate releases to then compare with other years?
Mickie Kennedy (00:54:00):
So they sort of do a Roundup of different companies and, and lots of little verticals, and there's a lot of lead generation that they create and they're driving traffic to these pages from these, , trade publications and other newspapers and other places that publish the story about the survey and study. And they're also getting SEO links as well. So it's really just getting a lot of like traffic reach directly into them. And on average, each press release that they do gets about between eight and 14 articles. I've seen as many as like 30, 40, but I went through a whole year and it was on average, you know, the least I ever saw four. And, , that one was a very specific one about commercial construction, co I forget what the word co space or some, some space for sharing for work. , and that one,
Ryan Fowler (00:55:01):
Oh, co-working spaces that kind of space.
Mickie Kennedy (00:55:04):
It was something like that, but it was, it was about the construction of it. And it was very, I felt it, I felt it was very too niche and it, I only saw four articles for that one, but, you know, that's still a good outcome, you know? Yeah. It's like, I, I've never seen a release that they've done that generated nothing and no response. , they've always done really well and, you know, know, they, I'm sure it's a learning experience for them as well. Cause they're doing so many and they get, it seems like it's effortless to them because everyone they do it gets results. And I think that it kind of is a muscle that they're exercising and getting really good at. And I think that, you know, asking compelling questions, , takes a little bit of work and it might be something that you need to brainstorm with coworkers or, , colleagues in your industry or, , you know, sometimes a helpful spouse.
Mickie Kennedy (00:55:58):
What, you know, what kind of questions would you ask someone in my industry and think about right now with, with everything that we've gone through as a company, , that you're privy to, what, what do you think would be interest and just really build on those questions. And, , you know, like I said, put a couple ones from left field, little odd ones in there towards the end, just, , cover your bases and just see what the responses you get. And sometimes you, you let the data speak for what the story's going to be about. And, , you really don't know until you get those n bers and you go, wow, this was really surprising. You know, a lot of people in my industry are ha are not having trouble hi hiring or finding people. And one person may have noted that we're getting a lot of people that used to be in the food service industry.
Mickie Kennedy (00:56:46):
And they're like, oh, so you could actually say, , people in our industry are not having difficulty finding, , staff perhaps because of many people moving out of the food industry. And this is a great stepping stone where it's a career that doesn't have the problems that, , and D scheduling that, , you know, say the food industry does. And so you, you put some analysis in there and sometimes analysis are just good hypotheses or guesses, but, you know, if you, you know, you speak that truth as the author that, that lends the, some of that trust and authority of publishing the survey and the results and the data. And it, if it makes sense, you know, people are going to, , go to you as the expert and recognize you as the expert
Ryan Fowler (00:57:30):
And, and publishing that you are challenging common conceptions, especially with surprising results that you know, most people in your industry might not think that when, when the actual hard data comes down to it, it's like, oh, hang on. , I can challenge that common conception and bang. There it is. There's, there's your entry point into a, into a release. I love that example. I love absolutely absolutely everything that you've shared. I think it's been fantastic to have you on and just share so much, , insider knowledge into what it takes to make a press release and make it work and successful. So Mickey I'd love for you to share just a little bit more about eReleases what you do specifically and, and where people can find out more about you.
Mickie Kennedy (00:58:09):
Sure. So, , our website's ereleases.com. , we specialize in getting press releases from entrepreneurs, small businesses, startups, authors, speakers, , out to the media, , nationally, , through the us, there is some international as well, but we are very US-centric in our distribution, which goes over the wire. And through email, we walk people through the process and help them build the start of their PR campaign. I have, , a free firstname.lastname@example.org slash plan P a N. And it's, , less than an hour, , video that walks you through the strategies that works, , survey and study being one of those. But there's like a total of eight or so strategic types of press releases that you can do. And I guarantee if anybody goes through that and, , doesn't audit for their business, they'll probably walk away with half a dozen really great ideas of a press release they could be doing for their company that would probably get media attention.
Mickie Kennedy (00:59:10):
And, , again, that's at ereleases.com/plan and all my social medias on the website. LinkedIn's a great way to reach me personally, but feel free to just, , talk to the staff through chat or the telephone or email. I only hire editors. We have no salespeople, there's no commissions or, , quotas or anything like that. If we feel there's a good fit, , we'll, we'll tell you. And if we feel like we couldn't help you where we're empowered to, to do that, and, , give you some advice as to we're are the best place to go would be
Ryan Fowler (00:59:42):
Thanks for sharing that. And you, you also help to write releases as well. If people need a bit of assistance,
Mickie Kennedy (00:59:48):
We do offer writing services. But as I tell most people, if you look at a press release, you could probably just write it based on that. As a template template, we have, , samples and templates on our website as well in the foot earth. You look there, I would say the writing is the easy part. The hard part is finding out what you should be writing about. So many people come in with, oh, we have this product that we want to announce. Therefore, this is what the press release should be, and that's the wrong way to do it. You really need to build a good foundation of a newsworthy announcement, something that's strategic and build the story there. And then you'll have a much more favorable result.
Ryan Fowler (01:00:29):
I really love that example in that you are able there to, , help people where needed, , but get the, get the distribution that they wouldn't be able to get on their own. , and it's absolutely clear that you are very passionate about helping, helping people because the smile on your face, every time you talk about one of your client's projects and, and releases and successes, , is huge though. It's, it's amazing to see. Thank you so much for being on the show. It's been an absolute pleasure to have you here and share your knowledge with everyone.
Mickie Kennedy (01:00:59):
Oh, you're very welcome. Thanks for the opportunity
Ryan Fowler (01:01:01):
That brings us to the end of today's episode. I really hope you've got some great value from it. If you're not subscribed yet, be sure to do so where you get your podcasts as an inspired business owner, you can join the digital approach podcast community for free over on Facebook. Just click the link in the show notes. It's a growing community, and I'd love for you to be a part of it. If you'd like to find out more about what I do and grow your business with video, head over to a Ryan media.group and book a free 20 minute info call. Thanks for listening. And I'll catch you on the next episode of the digital approach podcast.