Exclusive Interview with Christina Daves
This week, we asked Christina Daves 7 questions about her work. After breaking her foot in 2010, Christina Daves was motivated to launch a successful line of cast accessories titled CastMedic Designs. Following the release of these products, Christina became very popular and won the “Top Inventor” award at the Steve Harvey’s show. Christina had used the majority of her budget on launching CastMedic Designs and thus struggled with advertising and PR activities. Due to this, Christina got into the market of “free publicity” and ran her own PR without a budget. Christina has become extremely successful and well-known off of the publicity that she created and has since been seen on Dr. Oz, The Today Show, Forbes and many more. After finding so much success in personal publicity and creating free publicity, Christina is now teaching others her PR strategies and has since released several guides on how to get started on your publicity journey.
Why is having a PR strategy important and what is the difference between having a PR strategy and not?
So right now we are in such a noisy world. During COVID everybody was online and nobody could figure out how to differentiate content. And that's where PR really comes in. It becomes a huge differentiator between you and your competitors or somebody that you're running against. It's free, it's what they call earned media. I would say it's somebody else telling the world how great you are, versus you doing that through advertising. It should be a really important piece of your marketing, especially now post COVID. Being in the media gives you authority, people may not like the media, but for organizations it can elevate your credibility in front of your potential audience or potential clients. That's why I'm such a huge, huge proponent of it. However, a lot of people land in the media and don't know what to do with it and that's why I try to help. Somebody might not be watching NBC when you're on it so it's your job to tell everybody that you're gonna be on there.
If I’m just starting out as an organization, what would be one of your basic tips on where I should start?
You want to start local, you always want to start local. That's the easiest place and for those of you in New York city, I'm sorry, but that's gonna be the number one market. Starting local is gonna be tough, but you always wanna start locally. The formula that I use I call the, “get PR famous formula” is a three step approach. You want to be newsworthy, you want to create great hooks, and you want to find the right journalist. You start with a newsworthy story idea and the easiest way to do that is news-jacking. What's going on in the world right now that you can insert yourself into? News-jacking is breaking news but after the breaking news, the media likes to keep that story hot because people are paying attention to it. People are following it on social media so they're looking for peripheral stories. Even if it's not in your backyard, you can relate it back by speaking about how “we have to be careful that this doesn't happen here”, or “this would be great if it happened here”. That's why you can really use anything trending, anything newsworthy. Go to trends.google.com, or Twitter and see what people are talking about, create a story, find your journalist. There's this great resource called Google, it’s amazing what you can find on it. You want to hook them in with the subject line, you have to understand some journalists, especially national ones, could give 500 pitches a day. If you have a subject line that helps you stand out, at least your emails are going to get read. The easiest thing you can look at is a magazine cover. Magazine covers are impulse purchases at the grocery store that are sucking you in based on hooks that are on the front of that magazine. You don't have time to read the article. So Google magazine covers and looks at that kind of stuff. That's your hook, come up with something that's trending where you can insert yourself into the story then use Google and find a journalist.
Beyond just the subject line, how do you make a pitch to a journalist?
First of all, I will tell you that journalists are people, just like us, and they're overworked. Band so by making their job easier, you're more likely to get the yes. You've got this great subject line, now the most important thing is to not give them 5,000 words of a pitch. They don't have time for that. I've interviewed so many journalists that say, PR firms do this and they delete it. They don't have time. If there's a statistic like a “wow statistic”, give them that. Give them a sentence or two, a couple bullet points and always give your cell phone number, that shows that they can reach you anytime and address them personally. Tell them how much you loved an article they have done on a similar subject. Show them love, we all want to be loved, so you're just showing them that you appreciate them and you're paying attention to them.
Talk about building that rapport, and building that relationship, and the following that you need to do to get good PR.
Yeah. I will tell you that I have been very successful in this by not always pitching myself. I'll give you a great example. I went to an event, a couple weeks ago, and I met someone from our local NBC station. and I actually ended up talking to her daughter and then ended up talking to her. So I sent her an email and I said, “Susan, it was so great to meet you. I have this story idea.” So she emailed me back and she said, Christina, we've been trying to get this really important story told, and I need a bunch of two to five year olds for this story. It's a safety story about SUVs and I live in suburbia. I posted on my community Facebook page and I got 10 kids for her to run the story. They're running it next week and she loves me now. Initially I didn't do it to run this story, but we now have this great relationship because I was very authentic when I said, please let me know how I can help you. By being a valuable asset to them, they remember you for stories. And then she came back and said, oh, I love the idea you sent, let's pick a date in the middle of May to run that story. Win, win, win.
What are other ways that you're going be able to get PR? How do you get that engagement beyond the email?
No press releases. That's one thing that I feel strongly about. So, you're gonna email them. You're gonna follow up with a phone call. Yes people, we're gonna pick up the phone. I know it's so scary, but it works. Then when you leave them a message, you're gonna say, I know you're very busy, so I'm gonna resend the email to get it to the top of your inbox. The other thing you wanna do is connect and engage with them on social media. I actually recommend doing that before you even pitch, show them love, share their work. Again, they're working just as hard as we are in our jobs and it's important to become a valuable person to them. It’s, like me finding these guests for Susan and connecting with other ones, is important.
How does using specific terms and acronyms work for a pitch to the media?
Here's a great rule of thumb. When you pitch the media, pitch it like you're pitching to an eighth grader. Think of your eighth grade neighbor, think of your eighth grade niece or nephew, son or daughter. It has to be simple, news writers write on an eighth grade level because it’s got to be accessible to everyone. Now, if it's a trade publication and they know the acronyms. Sure. Go ahead. But for mainstream media, think in terms of you're talking to a 13 year old. You have to think if you're on your local, ABC or CBS station and you start talking acronyms that nobody understands, you're gonna lose them. And your goal is to get invited back. You want to be a regular, you want to be that expert that they want to have back because you were such a great guest. The first time I was on my local ABC, they were all hugging me like, oh my gosh, we can't wait for you to come back. When you go into it like that, and you're just authentic and you just want to provide value to their viewers and readers, you will have so much more success.
How do you build a press list?
Like I said, there's this great resource, Google who writes about everything. If you're not sure if you want to be on TV, pick up the phone, call the newsroom. I say this when I speak, there is not a newsroom in this country that is going to hang up on you and say, I'm sorry, we're not taking any stories today. It's never going to happen. So call and tell them you have a great story and want to get in touch with someone. Also make sure to email because it's hitting every single person, it's a massive email blast that's going to everyone which really helps you.
What are the ways to keep being known as an expert in an area?
I just created a quiz that I'm gonna start putting out. Are you media ready? And the first thing you need to look at is when you or the media land on your website, do they instantly know what you do?, What problem you solve and who you serve?. You have to have that right then and there. I have an online TV show that I do and I do it every Tuesday and Monday night, where I go through and I click on my guest’s websites because somebody else books them for me. And I had one yesterday and I had no idea what they did. I didn't know what to ask,. I had no idea what this company did. I team people up when I do training and I ask people to sit next to somebody they don't know and I have them pull up their website and pull up their LinkedIn profile and say, give honest feedback, do you know right away what I do? And that's a great way to do it. That’s how you’ll be media ready, you need to have that across all your platforms that shows what you do, how you do it, and who you help.
Any differences you're seeing these days on pitching different kinds of mediums, whether that is pitching print, pitching digital only mediums, TV, radio podcasts, anything in the pitch that you've seen slightly different?
Not really. The one thing with prints is you can give a quotable in your story idea that they might just pull right out of your email, give them a good quote that they can use. Remember TV is visual, so when you're pitching TV, if you have B-roll, then share it with them. If you were at an event then you could say, “Hey, I've got this and I could share this with you". Things like that, just give them the extra little things. I do that a lot and I've actually had to go back to companies to get the PR clearance that I can use. That's really, the difference, is just that TV is more visual.
If folks want to read more about PR, do you have any recommendations of books or podcasts or things that have been helpful to you?
Well, there is my book that I recommend, the DIY Guide to Free Publicity. It which has over 120 tips and tricks on how to get more visibility. I did all of those because some people don't want to be on TV and some people really want to be on TV. Some people only want to be on social media. So I give them lots of choices of things they can do. Besides my book, I will give you a great book to read. I was so honored to be able to interview the author, it's called “Contagious. Why Things Catch On” by Dr. Jonah Berger. He is a professor at UEN, I believe, but also one of the top marketing gurus in the United States and it's a great book.
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