Welcome to my first thought-piece. Having spent the past three years advising entrepreneurs about the importance of placing themselves as an expert in their industry, I’m taking my own advice and will be providing articles which hopefully demonstrate and inspire young entrepreneurs to succeed in growing their own business through PR.
After spending the sunny May bank holiday planning my content, I knew I had to start from the beginning – understanding and communicating your ‘why’ in business.
Firstly, we’ll look at why this is important. The vast majority of business owners won’t be doing something completely brand new. I’m certainly not. There is a tonne of PR agencies out there, however I’m a firm believer that consistently communicating my why, which has led to our strong brand values and underlying ethos about creating a successful business based on treating people right, is what has accelerated our growth. People buy people; they deal with people they like, trust, admire and respect. So telling your story is a great way to ensure that key influencers and your prospective customers buy into you and then into what you’re selling.
Entrepreneurs are naturally inspiring people, however, the too-often told “I didn’t like my job, had no qualifications and was told I couldn’t do it so I did” story, is only one level. You’ve worked bloody hard to grow your business so give your story the justice it deserves. Without the detail, it can seem like a lucky break, lottery win type story which lacks the human element, which is ultimately what people will buy into.
Being brave enough to communicate your personal challenges and struggles, emphasising your determination and force for good, is the next level that people will buy into.
How you tell your story must be compelling and appetising too.
I was incredibly proud to have been part of the Entrepreneurial Spark programme in Leeds (now the NatWest business accelerator) for two years. The enablers (mentors) on the programme constantly drilled into us the importance of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, namely (for me) public speaking and the importance of delivering a succinct 60-second pitch. This is a minimal time frame to get across all the points we were taught;
- opening with an impactful hook to capture your audiences attention (note their point of making it human and relatable)
- the problem / pain point your audience will understand and
- your solution to overcome it.
- the size of the market / your revenue model
- delivering traction through your and your teams experience and
- finally closing with your ask.
That’s a lot to squeeze in in approx. 150 words so you see how important it is to grab the attention of your audience in order to speak to you further, where you can add the detail.
Luckily in terms of PR, the media want the detail – the who, why and most importantly the human-interest element communicated in words and visually. Every newspaper, magazine and online publication has at least one key image on its page, after all, a picture speaks a thousand words.
This is why we always advise our clients to capture great photography of the founder/MD with their product / in front of their building. Unless it is consumer press writing on the ten best lipsticks for example, they will not use a sole product shot, nor would a press release on a product, without the back-story to accompanying it, be used.
Even without press content (although I’m confident you’ll have more to tell than you realise; any development such as launching, growing, taking on staff, anniversaries, new contract wins/products/services are all the basis for newsworthy content – your why will help add the magic) there are regular features specifically designed for entrepreneurs to tell their story. From the Yorkshire Post’s My Passion feature (part of the business news every Tuesday), BQ’s start-up stories and The Business Desk Yorkshire’s My Yorkshire feature are all completely free-of-charge editorial content which the media want.
Real life example:
Our client, Cooper King Distillery have only just began distilling their gin, with the official launch of the distillery held in June and their whisky scheduled for 2023. However, we’ve had enormous success in gaining them press coverage and blog articles because of their powerful and inspiring back-story.
An engaged couple, Chris, a former architect and Abbie, a PhD Biochemist, had enough of the corporate rat race, quit their jobs and went travelling, including exploring Australia. Whilst over there they fell in love with the Tasmanian whisky scene and decided to come home, back to Yorkshire and literally build their own whisky and gin distillery. With a huge investment required to get such an impressive business off the ground, this required serious cash injection, funded via a crowd funding platform, their Founders’ Club, which we have helped to promote. By telling their story, gin, whisky and Yorkshire-lovers have flocked to support the start-up and they have smashed their monthly sales targets month-on-month.
They are an absolute joy to work with, their passion is infectious and helps us passionately communicate their venture in turn. And, importantly, they continually provide us with great content; whether they’re giving back to environmental projects such as 1% for the Planet and planting trees for the Yorkshire Dales Trust, partnering with BrewYork to create a unique gin beer, or letting us in to understand their why so that we can communicate this to the media, we constantly have great content and their results in press coverage and, as a result, business growth, has been phenomenal. Watch this space, I’ve no doubt that Cooper King Distillery will continue to be a roaring success and we look forward to continuing to support them in future.