An interview with Cameron Herold, about his book “Free PR: How to Get Chased By The Press Without Hiring a PR Firm”.
What inspired you to write this book?
So Free PR was written as almost a how to guide for companies to generate free publicity without needing to use a PR firm, traditional PR firms. And in my experience over the years, traditional PR firms really charge an arm and a leg, you know, $6,000 to $10,000 a month to have you on retainer. They might have one person working for one and a half days per week on your account and you really don’t get the pure leverage that you can get off of having one full time person to working your account. So we teach you all the secrets to land free publicity, prints, radio, blogs, podcasts, TV, easings, et cetera, without needing a traditional PR firm.
Who was the book written for?
It’s definitely ideal for the medium enterprise. I think it can also dovetail really nicely into the larger corporations that have never actually understood how PR works. I think there’s this mystique that you need to have either a PR firm or send out press releases and news wires. And the reality is every single journalist woke up this morning and sat down at their desk and thought, “What the heck am I going to write about today?” And the millions of companies are sending emails, press releases, newswires at them. What we do is teach you how to actually pick up the phone and help the journalists out by saying, “Hey, do you have a couple of minutes? I think I have a great story for you.”
Most journalists will actually take your call, and the bigger your organization, the more apt they are to take your call as well. So we just teach you a way to actually cut through the clutter and connect with the journalist or the people who are writing the stories to help them do their job, to help give them the story. So it actually can work in large organizations just as well.
Yeah. Once you actually understand how the media works and you actually don’t go to the editors, that’s where most PR firms will go sideways or most individuals will go sideways. Remember, the editor wakes up every morning with a stack of 400 news wires or press releases and they say, “No, no, no, maybe, no, no, maybe.” If they have 400 nos to say no to, why would you ever want to phone that person? They’re kind of a gatekeeper, so you circumvent them. You go around the editor, you go around the news desk or the city desk and you call the journalist directly, who’s sitting at their desk going, “What the heck am I going to write about? I got to come up with a story idea,” or they want to be inspired by something besides what their editor gives them.
So you phone that person and say, “Do you have two minutes? I think I have a good story for you.” They often just say, “Yes, what’s the story idea?” And you walk them through the rough angle with a few of the supporting points and then you build the discussion around that with them.
Who should people connect with?
Today the low hanging fruit is podcasters, because podcasters are really the new genre of media and they’re always looking for good content. The key to also remember is that it’s not who you get covered by as much as what you do with that story. So I call it the digital trifecta, where you have your website and your social media platforms, like your company Facebook page, Instagram page, Twitter page, LinkedIn page, your website, et cetera, your landing pages. Those are places where you will link or post your media coverage on. Okay, so so you’re going to take the earned media, the coverage you get posted on your owned media sites, and then you’re going to drive traffic towards it. So you’re going to actually buy advertising and traffic to boost those posts to get more exposure to it.
So, let’s say the article or the coverage you get is kind of like the log or the coal on the fire. The advertising that you drive towards it so people see more of it is the gasoline that you’re putting on that to really make it spark. Most people, you know, we were on Oprah when we built 1-800-GOT-JUNK? 17 years ago, we were on Oprah, a full six minute piece. It was great that we are on Oprah, but the more that we told people we were on Oprah, kind of the advertising that we drove towards it, that’s what really made the spark happen. I think people think that even big companies feel like, “Oh, if I get covered by Forbes Magazine, that’s going to light the world on fire.” No, it won’t.
People will see it, but the key is now can you put it in front of more of your target audience, more of your customers, more of your potential customers, your potential employees. So using it strategically, and we talk about that a lot in the book Free PR as well.
How can people connect with podcasters?
Yeah, it’s the same as every media outlet. When you remember that every podcaster is a person, you know that person woke up this morning maybe as a kind of a 16 year old trapped in adult body. You know, you and myself are both these 16 year old guys that are trapped in this adult wrapping, but we’re human. So we’re worried about, is our stuff going to be accepted? And are we creating good content? And do we have good guests on our shows? So how do we get more of those guests? So, we’re very up to it. In fact, I run a podcast myself called the Second In Command Podcast, where I only interview the COOs for companies. You know, everyone is introducing the CEO’s to be on podcasts, I want the rest of the story and I only interviewed the COO.
So, if the COO contacts me, like the guy from the Cleveland Indians contacted me and he’s the second in command for the Cleveland Indians Baseball Team, and said, “Hey, would you want to cover me?” I’m like, “That’d be amazing!” Easy. So he’s helping me find a really good guest. And then he and I get to weave a story together and we get to share that. And then what I do is I post that on my website, all my social media platforms, and I buy advertising traffic to it, even just a little bit to get more people to see it. Right. And that’s where the real power comes off of PR.
But PR firms won’t do that for you. Or if they do, they charge you an arm and a leg for that, and we think that it’s some magic that they understand or some bizarre skill. Well, if we can run the rest of our company surely we can figure out public relations. And they all say that they have these relationships, they don’t have that many relationships. There is no possible way that they can have seven stories a month or 30 stories a month with that many relationships with the media. A lot of it is just actually connecting with those journalists, the writers, the TV personalities directly, and saying, “Do you have a couple minutes? I have a good story for you.”