There are lots of ways to show off your work to prospective clients and creative partners nowadays. And even though you have plenty of outlets where you can share your work and personality at the tap of a touch screen, getting your work published by a media outlet can be a powerful thing. We know that it's hard to get your work featured sometimes, so today we're talking about how to master the art of public relations and how looking differently at the submissions process will help you get published.
Submitting your work for publication (regardless of whether it is for online or print) is public relations. You create a pitch, reach out to publishers or industry influencers, and cross your fingers that you put together a story that they’ll swoon over. But unless you went to school and studied communications or PR, chances are you’re flying a little blind in the pitch process. Major publications and wedding blogs receive hundreds and hundreds of submissions on a weekly basis and only accept about 5% for publication. So, it’s really important to put together a well thought out and beautiful pitch. And there is so much more to that than beautiful images; putting together a successful pitch requires that you understand the opportunity from a holistic perspective. So as you are reflecting back on this year and creating your 2016 plan of attack, keep these tid bits in mind. Here are 4 thoughts on mastering the art of public relations.
Public Relations is About Relationships
Public relations is about selling yourself as a story and, if you have any friends who work in sales, they'll tell you that selling isn't about convincing someone to buy from you, it's about building a relationship with them. Whether your submission was accepted the first go around or whether it has been declined for the fourth time, make an effort to get to know the people on the other end of the conversation. Always ask for feedback and constructive criticism (so that you can learn how to focus your submission for the next time) and be sure to ask if there is anything in particular they are looking for in the future. Publications and media outlets publish at a crazy pace and are always looking for "easy" content. Work to build relationships with the editors so that you can be their go-to for content gaps or featured posts. Oh, and don't forget to always follow up with a thank you after they feature you!
PR is not Free Advertising
People often mistake PR for "free advertising" when, in fact, it can be costly. Aside from the hard earned dollars that some people spend on PR reps or agencies, PR takes human resource. Crafting an effective pitch takes time and effort because, if you want to do it right, you need to allocate time to: 1) researching the publication you are submitting to; 2) gathering all of the images and information the publication requires in their submission process; 3) crafting a story with both images and words; 4) sending in your pitch; and finally 5) following up. With all of that effort, you definitely can't call it free. So, create a process for yourself and dedicate part of your schedule (whether it's daily, weekly or monthly) to organizing, prioritizing, and executing your submissions.
Good PR Builds Credibility
Why do we all download and post "Featured On" badges on our websites? Because of the credibility it brings. You work really hard and understand the value of having your brand associated with some of the biggest names in the industry - that's why you want be featured in their publications. Successfully pitching your work to a major publication or media outlet builds your brand recognition and widens your reach. And why is that good for you? Because people trust brands that they recognize. Having your work shared in magazines, in blogs, and on social media amplifies your brands voice. When you are published, a tiny bit of the pressure is off to legitimize your brand or business because you essentially are getting a seal of approval.
PR is About Storytelling
This is where it gets meaty. In order to successfully represent yourself, you have to know not only the story you are pitching but the story of your brand. What are your goals? Who is your audience? What are you trying to accomplish with your pitch? You have to know the answers to these questions before you can figure out where you can get the most return off of a feature. But don't freak out on me and walk away just because I'm asking you to do a little work. Take 30 minutes, sit down with your favorite fancy notebook, and think about a couple things.
Who is your ideal client?
What publications do they read?
How many weddings do you want to book this year?
Do you want to travel for work?
How do you define your brand and services?
The answers to these questions will help you find the right publications to pitch to because "any publicity is good publicity" only gets you so far. It's important to put yourself in front of the right audience (you know, the people that might actually hire you) and not just in front of an audience. So, seek out features in the publications that speak to the types of clients you want to attract.
There is so much to crafting the perfect PR pitch that I could go on and on but we'll save that for another time. Until then, reflect on how you have been representing yourself and use these tips to set some PR goals for the new year! Happy pitching!