Over on the Campfire Club, someone asked how you manage when you simply have too much to do. I shared some tips on making a list of what has to happen and then outsourcing. But it got me thinking. There are just 5 weeks until Christmas and only 6 until 2018. It's like someone put the clocks on fast forward. And for many people, there is too much to do and not enough time to do it in.
Often the worry of what we need to do is actually bigger than the thing itself. Once you've written a list, it's easier to see what you have to do and can start to tick it off. But sometimes it will still be easier to hand some of the tasks over to someone else.
But that in itself can seem like a job: Find someone to do XYZ, brief them, manage them. What if they don't do it well enough? And so you don't do anything and your to do list gets longer.
I wanted to share three examples from the last week of how I helped people by taking something off their plate effortlessly. They didn't need to spoon feed me or wait on lengthy proposals or micro manage the process. They simply got in touch, explained what they needed and I did it. Job done.
Peter got in touch on Sunday and asked me to write an award submission for him as the deadline was fast approaching but he couldn't find the right words. I chatted to him at 3pm yesterday. He had his completed award submission by 6pm. Job done. He said:
'Thanks Melissa, That looks good.'
Jane got in touch last week, saying she needed words for a flyer for an event, but didn't seem to be getting to it because of everything else she had to do. I took a brief in the morning and she had her copy that afternoon. It's now with her designer and printer. She can hit her event with marketing materials sorted. Job done. She said:
'Yep - this fits the bill very nicely!! Thanks, Melissa - I knew you’d crack to for me!'
I went to see Helen and team on Wednesday last week. She had some blog posts that needed to be written, one of which I felt could make a good press story. By yesterday afternoon I had written a communications plan; four blog posts; three emails going to staff, customers and colleges; researched an industry issue; discovered that it was going to be covered in the Autumn budget speech tomorrow; wrote up a press release; found the email for the CEO of a company we wanted a quote from; reached out to her and got her quote approved via her press team; wrote tailored pitches for trade, regional, national and broadcast press; found the right press contacts; sent the news out; put the news on a wire service; sourced a videographer for them; identified three award opportunities for the company and am now working on those. Job in progress but mostly done. They said:
'Thank you Melissa. All fantastic!' and 'You are a machine!'
My point? You don't have to do this all yourself. If you have little thing that needs to be written or a major project that you need help with, I - or someone like me - can take it off your plate. I work fast and efficiently. If I see marketing opportunities that may benefit you or have ideas that might work, I'll suggest them free of charge.
I charge an hourly rate or if it's a big project, can give you a project-based quote in advance. It doesn't matter if you are a sole trader or a big company, I am the extra pair of hands you need to help you get through your to do list. Get in touch and give yourself the gift of time this crazy season. You will be so glad you did.
I spent most of last year creating an online PR course. It literally took me from January through to September to create it and September to December to launch it.
I sold it to 12 people. 12. Those 12 sales just about covered my costs to create the course but they certainly didn't pay for the hours and hours of time I'd invested in creating it.
Of the 12 who bought it, I'm not sure anyone completed it, even when I ran a bonus Publicity Challenge, guiding and motivating them step by step.
Was it a crap course?
No it wasn't. If they had followed the course they would have learnt a huge amount about how to get in the press. They would have generated publicity for their businesses and had an ongoing content plan to keep rolling out stories to the press, in social media and via blogs and newsletters. Some of the course participants did manage to achieve press coverage regardless by diving on the opportunities I sent their way. I wanted to give them real value and I believe I did.
But here's what I learned. People - even with the best of intentions - don't have time to stick to a course unless it is for an immediate and pressing need. (I'm bolding that just in case you are thinking about creating a course yourself - remember this!).
When I wanted to learn how to create an online course, I bought a course that taught me how to do it. I followed it and completed it because I had set myself a clear goal to get it done. But had I just liked the idea of creating a course but not been committed to doing it, I wouldn't have completed it. Because it took a lot of work! In fact I've recently wasted money on a Facebook advertising course because it all got too complicated and time consuming to the detriment of the rest of my work. Lack of time, lack of a real need and a big financial investment are going to stop people buying your stuff.
What I realised is that while my course was teaching people how to do PR, what they really wanted to know was how to do a specific thing that they needed at a specific time. For example, if they are about to launch a new product and need a press release, they want to learn how to write a press release. Or they might have spotted a press opportunity relevant to them but they don't know how to respond to it. Or they might even have got in the papers but now aren't sure how to make the most of it.
Each of these are specific problems they are facing at a very specific time. They don't have the time to go through a whole course just to get the answer they need right now.
So I've been ignoring my course all of this year, feeling disheartened and unsure what to do with all that hard work that I did last year. Do I keep pouring money into it, advertising it and hoping that people will buy it? Frankly, I didn't have the heart (or money) to keep doing that. Here's what I've done instead:
I've created Campfire Coaching.
I took the modules in that course and reworked them. I made each module answer the specific questions I was hearing from people about how to do a particular thing. And I turned them into short 30 minute videos with downloadable cheat sheets or workbooks to help them do the thing they need help with. I have also priced them so that they are £30 or less except for the first video - How to get publicity effortlessly.
(That particular video is £45 because anyone who watches it and implements the very simple steps I tell them, will get in the press with almost zero effort. I show exactly how I got into Top Sante, Healthy, Good Housekeeping, Psychologies, Telegraph and BBC in this video. I believe it is hugely valuable and people I have delivered this training too have said the same. If you do no other training on how to get publicity, do this one.)
Here are the direct links to the various coaching modules:
On top of these coaching modules, everyone is also welcome to join The Campfire Club - my Facebook group - for free. So you can get even more advice and support there.
I intend to add to the Campfire Coaching section of my site with other short training modules on a variety of topics - e.g. how to write great web copy, how to create a USP, how to write blogs people want to read and share, how to create and run a Facebook group, how to write newsletters people want to read and respond to, or how to create a content calendar. I'd love to know what you need the answer to. If I can answer it, I will make a training video for it. Leave me a note in the comments about what training you'd love.
Please do go and check out the brand new Campfire Coaching section of my website. If you order any of the coaching modules between today and 30 November and use the code: CampfireCoupon at checkout, you will get 10% off.
If you're a parent, summer holidays have either started or will be soon. Even if you're not, summer is typically a quieter time for businesses as everyone heads off to the beach or drinks their bodyweight in Pimms while burning sausages on a bbq.
This quieter period is a brilliant time to catch up on the big projects you've been planning on doing but haven't had the chance to get to yet. Things like giving your website a makeover, or changing your business direction, plotting out new products or services, creating new marketing campaigns or comms plans for the rest of the year.
While others are sunbathing, you can be plotting out the rest of the year so that come September you are ready to roll!
Some ideas to use the quieter weeks well:
Here's how I can help you over this period:
Clarity - if you want to change your business in any way, whether that's new packages, new clients, an entirely new direction, new messages, I can help you get the clarity you need. I recently helped Juliet, a coach, restructure her packages. This is what she had to say:
"I just wanted to say that I've had time to go through the summary doc in detail and love all the ideas, the ones we discussed and the new ones. And the angles you've suggested for the copy. I'm now in the process of restructuring my services and creating new material. Argh so much to do, but it's fun too and am feeling a lot more positive about the future of the business."
Copy - if you need fresh copy for your website or any of your marketing materials - perhaps a job lot of blog posts or newsletter content for the next few months, I can write this for you. You can lie on the beach while I take care of the words you just can't seem to find. Return to a heap of new content all done for you. Here's how I helped a nutritionist, a new product and a life coach find the words they needed.
Communication - if you are finding it hard to come up with regular marketing updates, I can help you either with one-on-one coaching, or by spending an intensive day with you planning, brainstorming and training, or by writing you a communications plan that you can roll out. Here's what a producer of babywear said after I had a one-on-one strategy day and wrote her comms plan:
"I found the session very useful and feel like you managed to put into words what the brand stands for. I also think we nailed who the target consumer is. Thanks so much for the comms plan and for all your work – looks very comprehensive! I will start reading this evening – excited to get started with it!"
Publicity - a quiet period is also a good time to learn a new skill. So whether you want to spend just £49 and 75 minutes listening to my PR Masterclass on how to get in the press fast, or you want to get an in depth understanding of how to get in the media on an ongoing basis with my Publicity for Solopreneurs course, use the time wisely! I also have a PR Firestarter Kit that gives you the tools to get your story out to the press with minimal effort. Summer is quiet for media too and they are always on the hunt for good stories. Use the lull to get fabulous publicity.
I also have kids on holidays so will have less time available to me so get in touch ASAP if you want my help with any of this before I get booked up. Email me.
I know it seems insane to be thinking about Christmas in June, but if you have a product that you think would make a great Christmas gift and want to get it into the press, you need to act fast (by 15 June for this opportunity).
I have teamed up with Kate Woodward - an expert in placing products in shopping and product news round up pages - to provide three businesses with the chance to get their products in front of key shopping editors for the winter and christmas period.
It is only available to three businesses - and I need all three spots to be taken to make it affordable to all. And I need all three spots taken by 15 June at the very latest.
So what is it?
YOUR CHANCE TO GET INTO CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDES AND SHOPPING PAGES OF NATIONAL MAGAZINES AND NEWSPAPERS (POSSIBLY EVEN TV!)
Kate and I go way back (she was a freelancer for me in my previous PR business). She has spent years focusing specifically on getting products placed in magazines. You know the pages I mean – What’s hot, Top Five lists, Shopping, Product news…. well she has all of the editors of those pages on speed dial. Her contacts span a range of national and weekly magazines and newspapers plus contacts at This Morning and Lorraine. We're talking everything from women's weeklies to luxury titles.
During the last week of June, she will head to London to have meetings with these contacts. Why the last week of June? Because all of the Christmas preview events happen in July and this is the best chance of getting in before they're deluged. Why only three clients? Because any more than that and it becomes overwhelming for the press. Any less than that, it becomes less affordable per client as the costs of her time can't be shared three ways.
Who is this suitable for?
Who is it not suitable for?
What's the benefit of doing this?
What do you get?
£1,300 per client if all three spots are taken.
How does it work?
To make this cost effective we ideally need three clients to join in. Any more and we over face the press. Any less, and the costs go up. So if you want one of the three spots, please email me ASAP
I will take a brief from you to determine your ideal publications and to check that you are right for this.
I will craft a one-page backgrounder document on your products. This isn’t a press release. It’s a product overview with key information. Once approved by you, I will send this to Kate.
You will send your images via dropbox or WeTransfer to Kate, who will select them based on suitability and what she knows the press will like.
Kate will secure a series of face to face meetings with the editors of magazines in London, to take place during the last week of June. Timing is critical. Miss this slot, and you miss the Christmas gift guides.
Kate will take your product, backgrounder and images along to the meetings. She will show your product to the editors, explaining the different features they can be used in (it won’t just be Christmas focused – it could cover winter warmers or top five new products etc)
Expect up to 9 face to face meetings with key editors. She will then send out your product information to a further 10 relevant publications, depending on the number of relevant magazines. She will call them up to secure interest.
Kate will repeat this process again in September to hit the newspapers and weekly magazines, that have shorter deadlines than the monthly magazines.
If she sees any relevant reactive opportunities in the build up to Christmas, she’ll respond to those on your behalf too. She’ll also send out your info to a further 10 titles.
A summary report of the publications that have been targeted with expected or actual coverage received.
Do you guarantee press coverage?
No – because no-one can guarantee press coverage without paying for the space. That’s why people pay (a lot per magazine) to advertise. PR is seen as more credible because your products or company are selected on their merit. So we can’t guarantee coverage but we will do our utmost to get you included. Kate typically gets a third conversion of the number of titles she reaches out to.
How many press do you reach out to?
There will be approximately 9 face to face meetings in June, and roughly the same again in Sept. In addition, the product info will be sent out and followed up with approximately 20 other publications. So approximately 40 targeted titles.
Do I get a list of press contacts?
You will be send a summary of the publications that your product went to e.g. Shopping Editor at Good Housekeeping but you won’t receive their contact details as those are Kate’s hard-earned contacts.
What is the timing of it all?
So do you want one of the spots?
Email me ASAP to get one. First come, first served. Final decision date about whether we have three spots and therefore can do this at this price is 15 June.
This could be your chance to rapidly ramp up your visibility and boost your credibility and make those all important Christmas sales. No more playing small!
If you want to learn how to do your own PR for service-based businesses, check out my Publicity for Solopreneurs course.
Many people think that getting publicity is difficult. That it takes a lot of time and effort and planning and writing press releases and calling journalists….
But it doesn’t have to be. You simply need to know where to look and how to respond to opportunities that arise.
Take this example I had recently.
A freelance journalist was writing an article for the Telegraph Small Business section about business values. She put out a request on Twitter using the hashtag #journorequest, saying that she needed to interview people on the subject.
So here’s what I could have done:
Here’s what I did:
Subject line: Business Values (so she would know which feature I was emailing her about)
Let's look at that a little closer:
She replied and said:
This is brill, thank you Melissa. Am hoping to include.
A few days later she sent me the text she would be including in her article, so that I could fact check it. I did. I also said this in my reply to her:
One more thing – not sure if you need an image for this piece, but I've attached two. Both were taken at my Campfire Retreat where I helped small businesses get clear on their business values while demonstrating my own values of freedom and adventure via the setting.
By offering a picture, I was potentially making her life easier. And if it was used, it would give me a bigger focus within the piece. Publications often need images to bring stories to life, so by offering one it can save the journalist and picture editor time.
A week or so later, the article appeared. You can read it here.
What's great about it?
You can get in the press very easily if you know where to find the opportunities and how to respond to them. Hopefully this post will have given you some pointers (like looking at #journorequest on Twitter for a start), but if you want more tips, I have a series of bite-size coaching videos that will tell you where you can find press opportunities (not just on Twitter), how to respond to them, what kind of stories the press want, how to create news, how to work with the press – and a whole bunch more including plenty more real life examples to learn from.
Take a look at the different training videos here.
Incidentally, if you want help figuring out your brand values as per the article mentioned, check out my Clarity package.
I can't wait to see you in the press.
I am often told by small businesses owners that they don't think they're big enough to get in the press. Or they're just starting up. Or they don't have clients yet. So why would a journalist want to talk to them?
Well in the last two months I've been featured in two national glossy magazines and been on BBC Radio twice. And all of that publicity happened without me having a business or single client (it was publicity about my walking group, not my normal Campfire business). But it didn't matter that my walking group was just an idea without a real plan or single client or any revenue. What I had was a story. I knew how to tell it. And I knew where to look for the press opportunities.
I want to show you how you can do this too. I have compressed what I know into a content-rich two hour online PR masterclass. This is not going to be a webinar where I spend most of it trying to sell you something, with a paltry 15 minutes of content thrown in.
This is going to be a SALES FREE online training masterclass.
It is going to cover:
It will be taking place on Thursday 30 March 2017 from 1pm - 3pm. If you can't make that time, don't worry, it will be recorded and emailed to you afterwards. But by being on the call, you will be able to ask any specific PR questions you have relevant to your business.
Because this is not a sales webinar and is a live training masterclass, there is a cost associated with it. But I've kept it super low. It is just £49. All you need to do is get one piece of press coverage and you will recover that amount about ten times over (probably more!).
I hope you can join me.
BOOK YOUR SPOT HERE.
Please do share the link with anyone else you think would benefit from learning how to get in the press.
If you set yourself the goal to get publicity in 2017, then this is your moment to make it happen!
PR, publicity, getting in the press - whatever you want to call it - is one of things that most small business owners would love to get. There's something about seeing your business featured in a magazine or newspaper or leading online site that makes you do a crazy happy dance. Because it reinforces that you've made it! All those hours you've poured into your business, and now it's recognised in the press. And that's just one reason getting publicity is great. Here are a few more:
- It massively boosts your credibility
- It lets a far bigger audience know about your business
- It brings in sales
- It positions you as an expert
- It opens up new avenues
- It reinforces your brand story
- It's free!
But despite all of those benefits, most small business owners don't bother trying to get in the press because they don't know how to do it and it all seems too difficult. It's not. If you know what to do.
I have created a course specifically for people like you that will:
I know that its easy to get beguiled by a course, buy it and then never do it. So I have created the Publicity Challenge. Without charging anything extra for the course, if you buy it before midnight on 22 January 2017, you will get:
So if you would like to join in the challenge, go to www.publicityforsolopreneurs.com.
Are you in? I would love to have you join me and I would love to see your business get the publicity it deserves. SIGN UP
A final note for Virtual Assistants: If you are a VA and have been looking for an additional revenue stream, offering PR as a service for your clients is a great option. Using the techniques outlined in this course, you can apply them to your clients, get them in the press and charge them for this new service. The course will pay for itself once you've got your first client signed up.
In September I launched my online course - Publicity for Solopreneurs.
Next week I am going to share my actual results from the launch and my learnings from it, but first I want to share why I even bothered to create a course in the first place.
Perhaps creating a course isn't something you've ever considered. Or perhaps you have but thought: 'I don't know how', so didn't take it any further. But I want you to know that you should consider doing it and you can learn how to do it. There are opportunities and course ideas everywhere.
Just last week I was talking to my cleaner who had won a listeners' choice award in our local area. We got to chatting about where they could take the business and we discussed a franchise model. But really, most cleaning franchises (in my experience as a customer) tend to charge customers more and do a job that is less good. And becoming a franchisor is a BIG intimidating step for a sole trader.
So I said, 'If you want to grow your revenue but are limited by how many hours you can physically work in a week and don't want to manage an ever increasing staff contingent, why not create a course and sell it?'
I could see the 'Huh?' in his eyes.
I explained, 'Well you guys do a great job cleaning. And I bet there are loads of people out there who could clean and make some money but don't know how to start finding customers or how to do a good job or manage payment etc. You guys could take all of your knowledge of starting up an award-winning cleaning business and sell it as a course that other potential cleaners could buy. You make passive income without working more hours.'
I could see the cogs start whirring in his brain. I was onto something.
You see as long as you know something and have some experience or knowledge, you can create a course. So why would you want to?
Here are the five top reasons why I created an online course - perhaps they'll inspire you:
Having the freedom to spend my time they way I wish is hugely important to me. If I want to go watch my kids at an all day rugby tournament, I want to be able to do it. If I want to take two weeks to climb Kilimanjaro and go on a safari, then I don't want anyone telling me I can't. Heck, if I wake up and decide I feel like lying in my PJs eating dry cereal out of a box while watching 'Say yes to the dress' on repeat, then try stopping me. I want the freedom to live life on my terms. But I also want to make money. That old chestnut. So making a course was a way for me to earn money while retaining my freedom.
2. Stop trading hours for cash
This links nicely to point one. It's not just about being free. Even if I could care less about being free, I still only have a finite number of hours in any given day. To make more money, I need to either never sleep or I need to charge more and more and more. And eventually I will price myself out of the market. The only way to stop trading your hours for cash is to find an alternative. That alternative for me was a course.
I want to be able to grow. I'm not talking world domination here. But I want my revenue to be greater than it would be if I just sold hours. And I want to reach more people. With an online course, you can sell it to people around the world. They don't have to be local clients.
4. A sense of creating something
I have spent my entire life helping clients grab the limelight. I help them win awards. I get their products and services in the press. They are creators of things and I have always felt like the person who helped them promote their thing, rather than being a creator of things myself. So making a course meant that I was creating something that I could call mine. It is an asset. I've have literally taken the knowledge I have in my head and turned it into something I can sell for money. And that is cool.
5. To help small business owners get publicity
I believe that when small business owners do their own PR, they get the best results because they are building direct relationships with a journalist, rather than going through a middle man. Yet I see many small businesses paying a fortune for PR companies and getting no results, or who just avoid doing PR because they don't know how to do it. I wanted to teach them how they could get amazing publicity really easily if they just learnt the basics. So my course had a 'bigger than me' element to it too.
So there you have it, my top five reasons for creating an online course. Next week - as I said - I will share my actual figures and learnings from doing this, but if you are interested in learning more about this topic, I suggest you sign up for David Siteman Garland's free video series that is out now. It that will take you through some seriously in-depth training on how to create an online course.
I bought David's course on how to create an online course and without it, I couldn't have done it. But for now you don't have to buy anything. You can just get some fabulous free training. I learnt so much from his training and it put a fire in my belly to get this goal of creating a course done. This time last year, I was watching his training. A year later, I have launched my course. Which means this time next year, you could have launched a course too.
Here's the link to the training again. In the comments, why not let me know what course you'd create if you could and what your number one reason for creating it would be.
I bet when you sit down at your desk in the morning, you check your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn feeds before you do anything else. You probably check social media before you even look at email.
And that's fine. But instead of laughing at cat videos or clicking on a 'You won't believe what happened next' headline to a spammy site, do these two things while you're scrolling. It may just get you publicity, grow your business and all for very little effort.
1. Check out the news
2. Scan Twitter
Of course, you may not get any response, but then again, you may. And it will have taken you the same amount of time as it would to post a comment on your twice-removed cousin's kitten video. Even if you don't get a response, you are letting people know that you are an expert and have something to say. You may not get a response this time, but you may start to get remembered so that when they do need a response, they turn to you.
I've appeared in national newspapers numerous times simply by following these two steps. It takes a tiny amount of effort and it just means switching on your brain to a few different things while you're already scrolling through your social media feeds. (If you need your morning coffee to get your brain switched on, feel free to have one!)
Lots of people don't bother with PR because they think it is too difficult. But these are two super easy things you can do that will start to get you thinking about all the opportunities that are out there. And trust me, once you get your first piece of press coverage, you'll want to get a whole bunch more.
If you would like to find out more about how to get publicity for your business, take a look at my Campfire Coaching cost effective training videos.
As always, share any successes you have with me either in the comments or over on my Facebook page.
I often hear from small business owners and solopreneurs that the reason they don't do PR is because they don't have any news. I get it. When you're a one-person operation you may not have much actual NEWs. But just because you haven't launched something new, or opened a new office, or introduced a new service or won an award, doesn't mean you can't get publicity.
There is a very simple thing you can do (and should do) every day to find press opportunities. Are you ready for it?
Follow the news.
Simple right? It doesn't have to be a physical paper that you read. You can put the radio on while you're eating breakfast, watch breakfast TV news, scan the online versions of the daily papers or industry blogs, set up an RSS feed to your favourite news sites. Whatever it is, make sure you know what the major stories of the day are.
Because when a story breaks - anything from a political scandal to a health related story to a celebrity divorce - that becomes the news of the day. Journalists will be looking for day 2 stories, supporting insight, expert commentary or personal experience that links to that news. If something similar happened to you or you happen to be an expert on the topic that's in the news, that's an opportunity for you to get in touch with the press and offer up your story or expertise.
It's called Newsjacking. You hijack the current news of the day by inserting your expertise, experience or opinion to help journalists flesh out their stories.
How to do it
Proactive PR stories that you create are brilliant, but they take much more time and effort and often have a lower success rate as you have to convince a journalist to write about it. Injecting your expertise into a breaking story that the press are already writing about will give you far faster and better returns.
If you'd like to learn more about getting publicity for your business, check out Publicity for Solopreneurs.