Ep006 – Jasmine Power – Press and Public Relations in the Digital Age
Jasmine Powers on 2016-07-05 at 14.12
Gerri: Hey everyone! I hope everybody is doing well out there today. I know it is really sunny here in the Houston area, and I am stoked about it, because it’s summer. And what we do in Houston is we go outside, and we go swimming. So I’m excited.
I’ve got a really special guest with me today, someone whom I haven’t known for that long. But in the short time that we have been working together, we have accomplished much. I’m going to introduce here right now. This is Jasmine Powers that I have on with me.
Jasmine started her business way back in 2007 as a marketing and administrative professional. Jasmine has been through a lot as she’s journeyed through the last nine years. She started three separate companies and has now landed as the go-to consultant for digital marketing strategy company J Powers Marketing & Publicity. She has her own podcast called the Mastermind podcast, and her website is filled with tons of real experiences and wisdom that the entrepreneur needs to hear.
Jasmine is very active in supporting non-profit organizations providing media and community outreach for Blogging While Brown, Black Girls Code and Blogilicious. I want to welcome you now, Jasmine. How are you doing? Thanks for being with me today.
Jasmine: Thank you for having me on, Gerri.
Gerri: Absolutely. My pleasure. I haven’t known you for that long. We were introduced through a mutual business associate/friend and we hit the ground running, and have accomplished so much. I really appreciate it.
How is your day going?
Jasmine: It’s awesome out here. You were talking about Houston weather. California has been insanely hot, but beautiful, beautiful out here. I think I might have to go take a dive in a pool myself.
Gerri: That’s what I’m talking about. Absolutely. I’m glad to hear it.
We’re going to start off. Jasmine is my PR guru. We’re going to get into some of those PR questions. First of all, tell me why you got into PR. I’m going to throw a little curve ball at you. Actually I didn’t say I was going to ask you this. But how did you get into this? Tell me about your journey to PR.
Jasmine: My journey to PR started in about 2004 where I landed in a position at a major PR company, like one of the biggest PR companies that are based in Los Angeles. And we worked on a McDonald’s account. It wasn’t like a small fish to fry – it was a big fish to fry with so many Southern Californian McDonald’s restaurants.
In a team of eight publicists, I was responsible for supporting their work and their PR pitching, their press release composition, coordinating the in-store events. And my primary responsibility was coordinating in marketing the in-store events to get people to come to the restaurants.
Being a part of that team and helping them with things like Gospelfest and the Tournament of Roses which they participated in in the year that I was there really exposed me to the full circle things of PR.
People think PR is just press releases, but it goes into anything that will bring positive public opinion about a brand. I’m trying to think of the technical word, and of course I can’t think of it right now. Everything from corporate responsibility to events, to the media pieces, to whatever will shape the public’s opinion about the company, their reputation.
In doing that, I realized I like this. Of course, I love marketing. Of course, I like content. But public relations was something that I was very fascinated with how to be of service to the media, how to expand a brand’s reach through earned and paid media. That was my introduction to it. I fell in love with it.
But my real bolster into me doing it myself was – as an admin I was a huge support and could do everyone’s job. I could. But when they asked me about my five-year plan, I said I wanted to be an account executive. They told me I couldn’t. I was like, “What? You’re going to tell me I can’t? My name is Jasmine Powers. I’m of the Powers clan.” You can’t take no for an answer.
It was my goal at that point to prove that I could do that job, whether or not I was with their company or outside their company. So I learned everything that I possibly could about public relations and started producing media events down the line and doing my own media relations, and all those things generating news for myself and my clients. And that’s where I am today.
Gerri: That is awesome. You said a couple of things that stuck in my head. Number one – positive public opinion. That’s really the underlying purpose of PR – to make sure that people, potential clients and customers obviously, as well as just the general public – I mean everybody can start a rumor, anybody can say something ugly, so there’s a lot of reputation management going on as well in the background. But you want to maintain that positive public opinion. That’s a major undertaking.
Having said that, I’ve got a question too before I get to the other questions. You started with brick and mortar. The McDonald’s events and all those kinds of things – you were literally on the ground there. I know that you are dealing with some of the digital as well now, some of the online space. How does that change – or is there really a big change or difference between those two spaces?
Jasmine: I think with traditional PR or doing things face-to-face, there’s that aspect of how we used to do things. We used to send press releases by a physical letter. In 2004 we use the same physical letters to a media outlets with the press release inside. Or pick up the phone and pitch them by phone.
Now with online, the only thing that has changed is the means by which to get the news to the media. Of course, the events are typically going to always be in real life and in real time, so there is not very much changed.
The changes are primarily in the means of getting the news in front of the right media at the right time. And it’s so fast paced. You don’t have time to send the letter. If news happens right now, you need to be pitching the media right now.
Gerri: It is. It’s fast paced. Awesome. Here are some specific questions that I’m hoping will help people. Any business can put out a press release. I remember when I started a company back in 2013. We sent a press release out. It was my first experience with it. I had no idea what it was for. I thought it was for the big news channels and people like that. But really anyone can send out a press release. Is it correct? And what qualifies as a press release? I’m going to get into your specifics here.
Jasmine: Anybody can send out a press release. Whether or not their press release is good or newsworthy is something totally different. But now you have things like PRWeb or even something like PitchEngine, which allows you to upload a press release digitally and blast it out using social media and the viral nature of that to get the news out.
Yeah, anybody can create a press release. A press release is just a document that should tell us the whole what when and where of whatever your news is. If you’re announcing a company acquisition, like Microsoft acquisition of LinkedIn, you want to see who are the key players, why it matters to whatever audience that this news publication is speaking to and how people can take advantage of this new thing.
If it’s an event, where they can register, where they can buy this offer. You need to answer some key elements. But usually there’s just who, what, when, where and why. And the ‘why’ is important because otherwise you’re sending news that nobody cares about. So be really focused on how this is going to be helpful to this audience.
It should be a simple document. It should not look like an ad. It should not be direct address. It should be written like a third party person, because usually it is going to be journalists who pick it up and they are in fact the third party outlet. So the way you write it should be exactly as if it was a journalist who was writing this press release.
Gerri: That’s important, the tone is important.
You said something else too that I wanted to ask for my audience. Since we’re dealing mainly with solopreneurs and people who may just be starting their business, and maybe they are new, but they’ve been in business for a little bit.
They want to get that extra promotion for their business, that extra news out for their company. They have something going on, maybe they are doing a merger or something with a company, maybe not as newsworthy as the LinkedIn-Microsoft – and I’m sorry, I know I’m digressing totally, but it’s good stuff – what is one example or maybe two examples of a reason a solopreneur or someone like that would want to send out a press release? And what would be the benefit of that?
Jasmine: I think newsworthy is relative. The press release as long as it is relevant to whatever news outlet they are sending it to it can be relevant. Because it is news for them. They need to hear this information.
Some of the examples people use to do press releases on – it might be new hires, winning a specific contest, like Best Small Business of Houston, typical company announcement. Or if you’ve got a new equipment that will be able to help you to expand your services. Or maybe you didn’t have a printing machine before, but now you have a printing machine that will now help you to be able to create flyers and T-shirts for the city who is your customer – something like that that you maybe want to use a press release.
But the most important thing is wherever you’re sending this press release to cares. They cover this side of information before they’ve covered other types of stories similar to this. Because if you say that you’ve got a new printing machine some million times, they probably don’t care.
A local blogger, or a local paper or something like a community paper – that still counts as media. They probably do care, because this means that now you can provide an expand in service to people that maybe you weren’t able to before.
Any type of announcement – of course events. And that’s the thing – many people feel that nothing they have is newsworthy. The absolute best way to create something PR or press release worthy is to develop an event. It’s a reason to write a press release.
Gerri: It’s awesome. I think people should do it, absolutely. Now, some specifics too that would help my audience now that they know why they would use it, and why it’s important, and how simple it is, and any media can be used, social media, and your e-mail – why use HARO or a Radio Guest List?
Jasmine: HARO stands for “Help a Reporter out”. When you hear anybody mention HARO, they are talking about HelpAReporter.com. Radio Guest List is very similar to HARO for the reason I’m going to explain in a minute.
You use HARO because HARO is journalists, editors, TV producers saying, “We have a story coming up and we need and expert source. I need somebody who does e-mail marketing in the Houston area to come in on MailChimp’s new price increase”.
Radio Guest List is a similar service but those people are looking for guests for their podcasts, online radio shows. It’s about the same in terms of these media creators seeking expert sources to speak to. Because guess what – they are not experts at that.
If I’m a New York Times writer, I do not necessarily know about e-mail marketing. I know about journalism, I can write about the state of publishing industry all day, every day. But I don’t know about e-mail marketing, so I need to contact people. And I’m not going to go on yellow pages and try to find somebody. I’m going to go on HARO, I’m going to go on Radio Guest List and put out an alert to see who can respond to this.
You use HARO as an expert to connect you with those opportunities instead of you using a press release distribution service that makes you just blasting to people blindly. HARO is you responding to the exact editor that is looking for your specific expertise. It’s the same as applying to a job that is in your expertize. You are responding to things that are really like hand-fit to you, these opportunities to be presented in the media.
Gerri: That’s a great platform, really hyper filtered. You can pick out what you want, cut through all the other stuff. That’s awesome.
What’s the difference between media relations and using a press release distribution service?
Jasmine: Press release distribution services are something like Cision or PRWeb, PR Newswire who was just acquired by Cision, which is pretty cool and I’m excited to see what happens with that. Those things have media subscribers. Journalists subscribe to get any press releases that are uploaded to the service.
You shoot it out, a bunch of people get it. They may or may not read it. They may or may not care. Even if it’s by industry. It’s just a mailing list basically. You just shoot it out and pray somebody picks it up.
Gerri: So would you rather be targeted or would you rather just stick it out there and never land.
Jasmine: Media relations is – say for example you want to target Kathy Hill – this is a journalist that I know. I’m going to target Kathy Hill. I read Kathy Hill’s article, I’m going to reach out to her, because I thought it was a great article. I think I have similar news that she might want to write about.
I e-mail Kathy, and I say, “Hey, Kathy, great article about finding your passion. I know that 30% of adults are now unemployed because they were looking to find their passion. There’s a new software that helps people to find jobs more easily, especially for millennials. The expert and founder of this would be a great person to speak to, to find out how finding your passion and finding a dream job can go hand in hand.”
If I’m reaching out to Kathy Hill and I pitch a story in that way, number one – I’m talking to her individually. If I have a relationship with her, it might be even easier for me to place a story with her, because I know her, I know the stories she writes about. She knows me, she knows that I represent these people, or that I am an expert that she can depend on to provide information on whatever topic she’s covering. We have this relationship.
That’s what media relation is. It is more you interfacing one-on-one with a journalist or some type of editor or producer, and delivering value to them based on an awareness of what they write about and the relevance of whatever you have to deliver to them.
Press releases is just shooting out to everybody, but if you know somebody specifically, or know whom to contact at a particular news outlet to deliver the right story to the right person who covers that, or right information – that is media relations.
Gerri: That is awesome. I had completely had no idea what that meant. You’ve totally cleared it up for me. Let me just say this too – when you do that, you’ve just become that journalist’s best friend, because that information came to them, you came to them. That’s awesome.
Jasmine: It’s really important that you follow those journalists. You have so many resources to find out journalists. Number one – you can click the journalists’ names on whatever website that they write for, and you will see a list of articles that they’ve written. You understand the tone of their writing. You understand the industry that they cover or the types of stories they share. You have really no reason to go to them blindly, because all the information you need is there.
You have Twitter. You can retweet their stories. You can tweet them directly and get to know them, comment on their things, offer suggestions, send them infographics that they could possibly include in their story to enhance it. You can be a go-to resource for them. When you are that person, you are much more valuable than somebody who just shot a press release to them blindly using Cision.
Gerri: Right, I can see that. That is awesome. Don’t you want people to write about you? That’s basically free press for you too. If you’re making friends with someone, and they want to write about you or someone you know who’s going to promote you. Isn’t that the whole point of that? To really get yourself some press? Does that not help?
Jasmine: Yeah, it definitely helps. Media relations, when done right, and if you are doing it yourself, is free. The cost is time and definitely research. If you nurture those relationships, the monetary cost is free.
But say for example, you don’t have those relationships, you don’t know how to really relate to people properly. You don’t know how to that at all, or even write and compose a newsworthy press release, that’s when you hire somebody.
You don’t have to be the expert. You can in fact hire an expert to do it for you, because they have the relationships. And if they don’t have the relationships, they know how to get it in a way that’s not spammy. And that’s going to ultimately make you look good as a client.
That’s when you hire out. That does cost you money, but it is a very valuable investment, especially if you can get some top placement in some major media publications. It will enhance everybody’s public personal opinion of you.
Gerri: Right, valuable. That’s awesome. And having said that, now that you’re talking about now almost the next step as part of your marketing plan – how important is that PR program to your overall marketing strategy? And we’ll wrap up with that.
Jasmine: The thing is that a lot of times people don’t do any PR. And then they are, “I have something. Let me just shoot out a press release.” You can do that. People do it. I don’t know that that’s effective though.
Having a PR program, meaning something there is ongoing outreach strategy that involves media relations, as well as press release distribution does a lot more than just doing some random thing. Because again there’s that whole piece of media relations, and whether or not you have a relationship with somebody. If you’re doing ongoing thing, and putting out stories on different publications as news comes up for your story, you are able to be more on people’s writing.
For example, Uber. Uber probably gets a lot of earned media meaning: they do something in the media. They find out about it, and they report on it. But you hear about Uber just about every day on the news.
Maybe you can’t be Uber, but you at least want to be in the news every week, every month, every couple of months, so that people begin to be more familiar with you. And then you are constantly driving traffic. The online PR (that is) effective is you are having all these SEO backlinks, when people are linking to your website, driving leads.
You can’t just do that one time or sporadically. So it definitely needs to be part of your marketing strategy. If you’re sending out e-mail every week, if you’re posting to Twitter, you should add in a PR program, where you are sending out regular press releases, or pitching stories as they come up, so that you are constantly on people’s mind. Because the third party coverage it does so much more than you posting a blog on your website.
Gerri: Absolutely. Leverage as much as you can, especially that free press like you said. If you can leverage some of that free stuff, that’s awesome. Especially for those of you who want to bootstrap and keep your cost down. There are definitely ways to leverage the media to do that. So I highly recommend that.
Having said that, my next show actually is going to be talking about lead generation strategies and how to get people in your front door, and to do it on a dime, or zero dime. That’s even better.
Jasmine, I want to thank you so much for all this information. I hope you guys were scribbling down fast, because this is some really great stuff. Jasmine, if anybody wants to get a hold of you, what do you have going on right now? Would you like people to do?
To get in touch with Jasmine, just go to http://www.jpowersagency.com/#contacts
Jasmine is also on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/jasminepowers