Listen in as I am interviewed by Bloomberg radio hosts, Cory Johnson and Carol Massar, talking about pitching the media.
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Cory: (music playing)
Fats Domino, yes, from New Orleans. He hasn’t returned to move back here after Katrina, as did just about everybody else. The city is alive right now and I was itching to see it 10 years afterwards. A lot of small business people, thousands here at the Sage Business Summit and getting some expert advice on how to run their business and this is a subject that comes up all the time, particularly for us as journalists, is how to pitch your company. Christina Daves joins us right now, who has written a book called PR for Anyone: A Hundred Affordable Ways That You Can Create Buzz for Your Business.
Christina, let me suggest one way not to create buzz for your business: sending me an email at Bloomberg Radio or Bloomberg Television. I get emails all day long, like probably somewhere between 50 to 100 every day, pitching me stories. Almost all of them don’t even belong in my direction, but that’s the way people think about PR is writing a press release and sending it to strangers.
Christina: Right because most small business owners can’t afford a publicist. I teach them this really simple formula but how you’ll see that email and how to get you to notice it and read it. Don’t write a 5000-word email. You guys are just going to hit delete.
Carol: We do. I’ve actually sent things back to people and said, “You know what? Just give me the point. Give me one or two lines about why I should do what you want me to do.”
Christina: I tell them to write a great hook in a subject line, something that would be appropriate for Bloomberg Radio, like how to pitch Bloomberg Radio, and then a couple bullet points. Hey, this is why I think it’s good, here you go, and make it real easy for the journalist.
Carol: That’s Cory’s point. He and I will sometimes pass back and forth messages like, can you believe these people sent this? Do they not know what they do? Do you often say, “Know your audience”? “Know who you’re pitching to?”
Christina: Absolutely. It’s funny because I interview journalists all the time and that’s what they tell me. They’re like, “It’s PR firms that are sending us this stuff that has nothing to do-”
Cory: Clients paying for that annoyance. [crosstalk 00:01:57]
Christina: Yep so I’m educating the business world how to find the right places to be and then how to pitch effectively.
Cory: Talk to me about what an effective pitch is.
Christina: Well, it just really depends. Where are your customers? Who would be interested in your story and make it more about a story. It’s not about Christina Daves. It’s something that I’ve done or something that’s happened in my past that would be interesting to your audience.
Carol: Like a broken foot. Talk to us about how you turned a broken foot. You created an apparel business as a result of that.
Christina: I did. It was a freak accident. I broke my foot and the doctor put me in that ugly medical boot and I was going to New York City. I’m like, “I’m not going to New York looking like this.” I’m on the train Googling medical boot accessories, medical boot fashions.
Carol: Did you come up with anything?
Cory: She finally found a 4-inch heel that was … no.
Carol: Jimmy Choo does not make a heel for-
Christina: To balance it out. Then I went home and started researching and four million people a year are put in boots. I always say, “That’s a lot of ugly people walking around.”
Cory: Or beautiful people with ugly boots, at least.
Christina: Right, but now I just turned this whole negative into something fun. Instead of someone looking at you and saying, “Oh gosh, what happened?” It’s “Oh my God, that’s so cute. Look at that.” It makes you feel a little bit better about yourself.
Cory: This is how you take that story and turn that also into a PR story.
Christina: Well, I’ll give you a perfect example. There’s a magazine called Lower Extremity Review.
Cory: Duh. I know.
Christina: Right? You read it. You get it, right?
Carol: He’s been reading it for years.
Cory: I’m a subscriber for years, yes.
Christina: It’s all orthopedic surgeons and podiatrists, so a perfect place for my product. They don’t put anything like my product in there but I got on the phone with the editor and said basically what I just said to you guys. He’s like, “I love you. I love your passion. I’ll put you in my magazine.” He put it as a featured product.
Carol: Did the business just take off after that?
Christina: Yeah. It’s been several things. I joke. I do Google alerts and I do “celebrity broken foot” and all of a sudden, one day-
Carol: Just like an ambulance chaser.
Christina: I am. I am. Diana Ross was at LAX in a boot. I picked up the phone and I called her publicist and I said, “Listen, this is what I do.” He said, “Send me an email.” Like I was the first person. The publicist said, “Send me an email.” He said, “I sent it to Ms. Ross. I’ll let you know.” I thought, sure you did. Two hours later, and I knew she was coming to D.C. to do Christmas in Washington, sing for President Obama, and she loved it. I met with her wardrobe person down at the Ritz Carlton and then I set my Google alerts again and there she was wearing my product.
Carol: That’s pretty cool.
Christina: That took off my business.
Carol: I was going to say, it’s smart. You targeted it.
Christina: Yeah and then I went back to all the people I was trying to get into their offices for meetings and said, “Look, Diana Ross wore it” and that got me in.
Carol: We talk about this. There’s just so much information out there. For someone who is really trying to distinguish their business and set them apart, what’s your advice to them?
Christina: What makes you different? What makes you unique and what’s your story? Everybody’s a story. People love the story of how I started this business. I saw a need and I did it. That’s a great story. Create the story around your product or your business and pitch that.
Cory: Is it really about getting customers or getting attention and those will lead to customers?
Christina: I always say, “You want to be where your customers are” so you get a return on your investment. Everybody wants to be on the Today Show. Well, if you’re a local florist, other than saying you’re in the Today Show-
Carol: Good luck with that.
Carol: But it’s very interesting what you said with Diana Ross. I think about jewelry makers and they get a celebrity like Kate Hudson or something and InStyle shows a feature of them wearing something. That happened with Uggs I remember, years ago. She was wearing Uggs and it took off.
Christina: Yep. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
Carol: Yeah. Well, we wish you well.
Christina: Thank you very much.
Cory: And Diana Ross.
Carol: And Diana Ross.
Cory: She better now that she’s doing better?
Christina: She’s better now.
Carol: Is your foot well?
Cory: All right. This is the Bloomberg Advantage on Bloomberg Radio.