crafting personal stories for PR success with Jen Berson

Jen Berson is the founder of Jeneration PR, a boutique public relations firm that specializes in beauty, baby, and lifestyle brands. She’s a regularly featured PR and social media expert on the American Express OPEN forum for small business. She’s also been featured in the New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, and PR Week, among many others.

Jen’s first career was as a civil litigation attorney. She practiced law for four years before deciding that she wanted to go in a different direction. She started promoting a brand on the side, and her business grew from there.

What Jen loves about the PR industry is that the results of her work are tangible and immediate. You can quickly see the benefit that a proper public relations strategy has for business and in people’s lives.

This was a great interview. We talked about how to develop a PR strategy from scratch. We also talked about how to leverage social media, the benefit of creating a content release schedule, and the benefit of batching your social media content creation.

How to Develop a PR Strategy for Your Brand

In order to come up with a good PR plan, you have to ask yourself some key questions:

  • Who are you planning to help?
  • What problem are you planning to help them solve?
  • What is your message?
  • What is your point of differentiation in the marketplace?
  • What about your solution is unique?
  • What do you want to be known for?

Once you have your audience and message clear in your mind, it’s time to mine your past for stories, nuggets, and gems of wisdom you can share with the media.

Mining Your Experience for Pitch Angles

Jen gets media exposure for her business using several different stories from her past.

Her first media angle was her career transition story. She was able to use that story to get featured on Business Insider and Yahoo! Finance and to get interviewed on the CEO on Fire podcast. For those initial media stories, she focused on how she was able to transition from lawyer to PR expert and why the transition was so important to her.

The interesting thing about PR is that there’s a kind of snowball effect. Being featured in those places led to other opportunities.

Another angle Jen has used is the fact that she is a mom and an active entrepreneur. Balancing business and family for entrepreneur mothers is a very hot topic these days. So Jen has been able to get media attention by sharing her opinions on that subject.

Recently, Jen had to part ways with her first paying client. But since then, her sales have tripled and she’s brought in two billion-dollar clients. She’s learned a lot that has changed her business because of this situation.

And now she uses this learning experience as another angle to gain media attention.

The secret to finding stories to share with the media is search your history for moments when you learned something, or moments where you’ve been through a journey that other people want to go on.

How to Find Your Stories

A simple way to pinpoint the stories you can use to get media attention is to have somebody you know interview you. Having other people ask you questions in a conversational way is a great method for discovering the kinds of stories that make good pitch angles for the media.

Some questions to get your interview going:

  1. How did you get started?
  2. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
  3. Where did the idea for your book initially hit you?
  4. What do you have to share from your process?
  5. What lessons have you learned from your journey?
  6. What do you do for fun?
  7. What do you do on the weekends?
  8. Tell me about your personal life.

Start thinking about how your personal interests and passions informed the creation of your book, product, or business.

It’s in connecting your personal and business lives that you begin to find your own story that positions you as unique in the marketplace.

Jen Berson quotes

How to Develop a PR Plan for Beginners

When developing a PR plan, you should focus on three things:

  1. What media sites do I like to read?
  2. What podcasts do I like to listen to?
  3. Where would my content be a good fit?

If you’re just starting out, understand that you’re not going to be able to get booked on a national television show like Good Morning America overnight. You have to start where you are and find media channels that will listen to you. Every media placement will help you gain credibility and exposure so that you can get more media placements that reach larger audiences.

One successful path Jen has used is to start with Facebook Live and podcasts. From there, you pitch local TV and radio segments. This begins to build up your reel, so that shows with larger audiences have something to look at so they can get comfortable with you.

How to Maximize Your Impact from Media and PR Exposure

Leveraging your PR wins is a very important step in the process.

When you have an article published somewhere or get an interview on a podcast, radio show, or television show, tell your community about it. Tell your friends and clients. Tell your mentors who have a bigger reach than you. Tell your social media communities.

If you want people to tweet about it, compose the tweet for them. Give them a couple of versions of the tweet to choose between.

You should invest your time in a few Facebook groups and/or forums. Don’t just spam these groups—become a member of the community and when it’s relevant, share your PR success.

When you share your article in communities that you have become a part of, approach it like you’re telling a group of friends your great news…because that’s exactly what you’re doing! Share it very conversationally. Ask for their feedback. Tell them they’ll learn a lot about you and what you have to say.

Use your personal network. You can use the alumni association of your college and/or your connections on LinkedIn.

Whenever you get a media placement in a major newspaper or on a major website or television show, put that logo on your website and at every point of purchase. It adds credibility.

If you got an article that’s been picked up by a major website, you should break the article down into as many tips as you can. Then you can share those individual tips on social media with links back to the article.

Social Media Content Creation Tips

You can judge the success of social media content on two factors:

  1. How many people share it.
  2. How many people like it.

In order to get your audience to like and share your social media post, you want to create content that:

  1. Adds value for the person reading it.
  2. Provides support to your community.
  3. Inspires your community.
  4. Engages with your audience.

Ask open-ended questions. Share your expertise. The goal of social media is to help you build a relationship with your audience. You want to take people in your audience from customer to friend and fan.

After you’ve built a relationship with the people in your audience, asking them to buy from you isn’t a hard sell.

It helps to have a content calendar so that you are clear and consistent in your social media messaging.

Think about the type of audience you want to connect with. Track the results of your social media posts. See which posts get the most engagement.

It often helps to have a weekly social media plan where you post similar content on a weekly basis.

Build a Social Media Content Plan

Jen plans out her week so that she does similar social media posts on a weekly basis.

Sunday: Jen gives social media tips.

Monday: She posts a motivational quote to inspire her audience for the week ahead. Then she gives a tip related to that quote that will help her audience manage their business.

Tuesday: Jen gives tips on how to promote your business.

Wednesday: Jen gives a specific PR strategy designed to help you promote your business.

Thursday: Jen posts about her client work in a way that showcases her expertise.

It’s a good idea to batch produce your social media content so that you can be sure your message remains consistent and on brand. It also saves time because you’re able to focus on that one activity, and you don’t have to worry about consistently producing it because it’s already been created.

It’s also important, especially when creating posts for visual social media channels such as Instagram and Pinterest, that all of your content has a similar visual style. Batching your content creation helps here, too.

Two Sources for Social Media Content

  1. Repurpose your own content.
  2. Repurpose third-party content. When you repurpose third-party content, always remember to give proper attribution.

It’s important when you create social media content to be authentic and genuine. Remember that the purpose of social media is to build a relationship with your audience.

Influencer Seeding

One way you can quickly grow your audience is to align yourself with influencers in your market.

You want to find people with large audiences who engage on their social media pages. You also want to find people who have an audience that engages with them.

If you can connect with a few genuine influencers, it can drastically increase the size of your audience quickly.

You want to find influencers who have a consistent message and brand. There are some people with a large social media following who will promote anything they’re paid to promote. You want to stay away from these people for the most part because their social media following isn’t specific enough.

Others who have a large following who will ask you to pay to promote your stuff. Make sure that they have a consistent message, and that their audience contains people who would be interested in what you have to say.

Paying for someone to promote your content can be worth it. But it’s important that you find someone who’s genuinely interested in your message. Authenticity matters.

The best way to build a relationship with an influencer is to follow them, share their content, and comment on their content. You should do this in a very genuine way. People can tell if you’re being disingenuous.

You want to find a way to capture the interest that you generate through connecting with influencers. Set up a way to capture people’s email addresses and/or make the sale that you want to make. You don’t just want people talking about you without them having the option of joining your audience.

Connect with Jen

Learn more about Jen’s brand new public relations course here. — Jen’s website — Jen’s Facebook page — Jen’s Instagram — Jen’s Pinterest — Jen’s Twitter