(Article originally appeared in Authority Magazine, October 26, 2021)
Life is too short to waste our time and our talents on things that simply won’t matter when we are gone. Building a legacy of hope and love and community seems like a worthwhile goal for all of us.
Welcome to another installment of our PR Strategy Series, where you can learn directly from top industry experts on how you can leverage media attention to grow your business.
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I’m your host, Kage Spatz — here to help you attract more customers, earn more trust, and deliver more value. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Tracy Wemett.
Tracy has been the co-founder and President of BroadPR since 2001, a full-service communications firm offering public relations, social communications, digital PR, strategic marketing, and crisis management. She has been at the forefront of public relations and marketing in the high-tech industry for over 25 years.
Tracy has appeared on CNN, ABC, NBC, Bloomberg, and CNET and has been quoted in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and various industry publications. Outside of work, faith, family, and friends are what matters most to her. Tracy volunteers locally and abroad, having served on the Boards of Many Hopes, Safe Haven, Silent Rhythms, Kushiri, and Text4Deaf.
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Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I really got my start when I was a kid, always looking for things to invent or a Guinness World Record to achieve. But officially, my business career started in high school, as I was able to grab an internship that paid at a computer technology company called Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). Although many don’t know about the company now, when I was there it was huge, employing over 14,000 people and generating over $4 billion in revenue. I had some great mentors there, and I learned a lot. And then I went to a start-up, and I think I fell in love.
The large corporation had its benefits, but working at a start-up gave me so much joy. It was a blast! And, it was A LOT of work! In time, I started to work on average between 60–80 hours a week. Being young and in my 20s, it was fun and exciting. But after a while, I decided that if I was going to work THAT many hours, it should be for myself.
Together, with a close friend who was far better at operations (and QuickBooks) than I, we started BroadPR, a full-service communications firm offering public relations, social communications, digital PR, strategic marketing, and crisis management. And 20 years later, the firm is still going strong.
In your opinion, what separates your agency from others in the space?
BroadPR is a boutique agency, taking on only a handful of clients at a time and working as a part of the team. Whether it’s an early-stage company that needs us to create their communications strategy or a larger organization that needs us to work on a specific part of it, we gladly accept the challenge and insert ourselves into the team’s workflow. We get on slack, share files on Google, meet on Zoom, and update items on SharePoint, the wiki, and more.
It’s not like we are some separate entity, but rather, we’re an integral part of our client’s team, not only in sharing ideas and content but in celebrating accomplishments and working toward meeting new challenges.
As a successful business leader, which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
- Loyalty — I stick by my people. My team knows I have their back, and that goes for employees, consultants, clients, interns, vendors, and the media. We spend so much of our time and energy with work or work-related activities, and so I consider it an honor and a privilege to ensure that those around me know I’m on their team. Over the years, we’ve had so many examples of this, times when a journalist needed something out of reach, but we went the extra mile. Or when a client just couldn’t pay (pandemic, layoffs, crisis) but had to have something done in order to stay afloat. I’ve got you.
- Passion — I am a passionate person, and not too many things get me as excited as making connections. Whether it’s connecting people, stories or content, I feel so joyful any time those matches are made. If a journalist connects with a client’s story, wow! That’s fun.
- Persistent — I’m in it for the long haul. If one thing doesn’t work, I’ll try another. Giving up isn’t in my DNA. And that doesn’t mean I’ll force something. It just means that I’ve learned to know when to change course or try something different versus when to keep at it. Having the confidence to know what works and the humility to know when to change strategies has helped our team over the years to achieve success for our clients in so many areas — from landing coverage in unexpected ways to being acquired to unveiling funding to launching new products.
Wonderful. Let’s now jump into the main part of our interview. What 3 media strategies are typically most effective in generating more business for a national brand?
Just like a local brand, I’d suggest that media relations is one small, but important, part of a larger marketing strategy. And marketing is part of a larger business strategy.
Figure out your audience — does generating more business mean more sales, more partnerships, more funding? Once you know your audience, you can develop a plan to reach them with inbound marketing tactics, social media strategies, and yes, media outreach.
Would your PR strategy change much if a client is selling a physical product or has a service-based solution? B2C versus B2B? If so, please share an example or two that might demonstrate any differences.
In today’s world, there is no single blueprint for PR strategies. Strategies and tactics depend on the product/service offered. We also have to uncover the brand equity, so marketing input for PR strategies is very important. Doing PR for a product from Apple is very different than a service from a startup.
Why is brand equity important? Brand recognition differs according to audience and geographies. For example, Dove is a famous brand in the Western world. But Unilever, the parent company, is more recognized in parts of Asia. So, the message house and strategy needs to follow suit.
That being said, B2C and B2B have major differences. The biggest is the audience and the second is the media.
When doing PR for B2C, you need to have a good handle of the market’s segmentation. In today’s crowded messaging world, you need to be very targeted with your message house. Your PR strategy needs to be reinforced with social media marketing and other marketing efforts. So, it’s important to get the message in synch. Media-wise, you are working with and targeting a lot of bloggers and influencers, and it is a wide world out there. It is also good to have a strong crisis PR framework, as things can go wrong quickly and/or be taken out of context.
Doing PR for B2B, you need to understand the target audience pain points and your differentiators. The media is also varied in focus, from trade pubs to general media. So you need to have a clear strategy that targets these media without diluting the message.
The above is an oversimplification. Why? There are two reasons:
- Many B2B companies are also targeting B2C users. This is true for a lot of SaaS companies. So, when it comes to PR, it is not uncommon to have a dual PR strategy. You also have B2B2C companies where PR becomes unique and challenging at the same time.
- PR is also taking charge of social media for both B2C and B2B. This means companies need to create talk tracks and message houses based on the audience.
If a business is already investing monthly in PR, what other marketing strategies would you recommend they invest in that best compliments that work to bring in the most amount of business?
Look at broader digital marketing activities, including lead generation, website optimization, social media communications, and corporate branding. Also, Marketing and PR should be working together, not subservient to one another. This is important in the modern context where each reinforces the other.
PR needs to understand at which level of the marketing funnel they are working on. In the past, PR has typically done the groundwork for the top of funnel activities, however, this is not true today. A lot of PR is done via social media and influencers. So, understanding where you engage the media and target audience is important.
Further, having a good handle on search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) is important. This is also vital for PR communications as it allows PR collateral to rank higher in search results.
Thank you for that. If someone has already been covered in the media, what are the best next steps after that? What are your “5 Ways To Leverage that Media Coverage To Dramatically Grow Your Business”? Please share a story or an example for each.
Oh, that’s a great question!
- First and foremost, thank the journalist for the coverage. They didn’t have to write about you, and whether it was perfect or not, they get thousands of emails and pitches a day. The fact that they took the time to include you in something and/or write a feature deserves praise.
- Second, share the coverage all over the place! Tag the journalist and/or outlet, tag other influencers who would care (not competitors, but potential partners, investors, peers, and employees). Have others — internal and external influencers — share it. LinkedIn and Twitter are our first stops for B2B coverage, and depending on the industry, Facebook is up there, too. Instagram and TikTok are primarily B2C focused, but again, depending on the industry, it might be suitable for the business side.
- Post the coverage to your website, either in a coverage section or on the blog. Be sure to get permission first! Most of the time you can repurpose an article after it’s been out there for a certain period of time, as long as you provide attribution to where it first ran. Then, share the post.
- Keep the communication going! Don’t let it end there. Keep in touch with the journalist, help them to follow the story and be sure to check out any comments to the story. There’s something special about a real life person responding to comments (as appropriate).
- Determine if you can get additional coverage. Pitch a follow up abstract to the same journalist or pitch a slightly different topic to a different journalist at a targeted publication. There is always something to say, something to educate your audience on — your customers, employees, investors, stakeholders — so keep going. Don’t forget to include a hyperlink to your company’s website. Many media outlets don’t allow for multiple backlinks, but a company website is usually acceptable and provides a valuable link for SEO juice.
We’ve had feature coverage garner the attention of a huge industry influencer who became a brand advocate for one of our clients. Many clients have landed big deals, rockstar employees, and investor funding because of the credibility they’ve built up with targeted media outlets. Coverage can be a very powerful part of growing your business.
One more before we go: If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I think we all need to see each other right now, really and truly see each other. Social media has made communication with people so easy, and yet we don’t really know who is on the other side. The persona is not always real, and of course, there are fake accounts, bots, and bad actors everywhere. So if we could figure out a way to see one another, know each other’s hearts and feel each other’s pain (and joy), I just know there would be so much more grace to give, a lot less divisiveness, and more compassion.
The us versus them mentality has got to stop, not only in politics and belief systems but in overall life. Life is too short to waste our time and our talents on things that simply won’t matter when we are gone. Building a legacy of hope and love and the community seems like a worthwhile goal for all of us.
Thank you for sharing your story and so many valuable insights with us today!