May 20, 2011

Unexpected PR

I never exactly know what to say when the phone rings and after answering it I hear  “Hi,  this is so-and-so, a reporter from ZYX…”   Actually, truth be told, the last time I was contacted by a reporter back in February it all started with an email from a reporter for a big publication wanting to schedule an interview after the interview I received a followup call from a fact checker to double-check my quotes (which is how you can tell it’s a bigger publication!).  To the best of my knowledge the article hasn’t printed yet (or perhaps it has and my part got cut) but it’s very surreal to all of the sudden find yourself talking to a big-league reporter.

So how did my small food company get their reporter’s attention?  Funny enough, it was a press release that caught their attention but not one that was ever sent to the magazine.   Their reporter was working on a story about green packaging which is something my small food business has been incorporating into products for several years.   A few years ago I happened to write a press release about our green packaging endeavors and mentioned some of the vendors my company uses.  This press release was submitted to several business-to-business publications in my industry and I had a copy of it posted in the press section of the company website. 

Fast forward several years and a reporter is looking for examples of companies that use green packaging from specific vendors.  Unable to find anything easily she turns to the most powerful research tool of all – Google! – and types in the vendors’ names.   Google then apparently crawled the web and in doing so came across the press release I wrote.  Next thing you know my press release pops up as one of the first search results and the reporter sends me an email.

The lesson I learned is that even if it doesn’t seem like anyone is listening to the press you or your press team is putting out there, the power of search engines has made it so that the material has a much longer usable life then every before.  Had I not written that press release or, even if I had, had I never posted it on my own website, the reporter never would have found me.   The simple act of writing and posting the press release makes it easier for reporters to find you when they have a specific story idea in mind.   Yes, it’s a long shot but it doesn’t hurt.  At the very worst your customers will browse your press releases and learn more about your company which will help them feel more connected to the product and the person behind your brand.