Mickie Kennedy believes that with some effort and a little money, the possibilities are endless. Mickie is an expert at helping small businesses and startups increase their visibility and credibility. He founded eReleases 24+ years ago after realizing that small businesses desperately need a press release service they can actually afford, giving them access to the media and to a national newswire – all with a personal touch. Mickie loves british sci-fi, writes poetry on Mondays, lives with two feuding cats, and he’s here today to talk about PR and marketing.
The conversation with Mickie began with a level-set on the definitions of advertising vs. PR, and the differences between paid, earned, and owned media.
“So basically earned media is getting the news out there and having a journalist write an article about you,” explains Mickie. “It’s different from paid advertising where you get to control all the aspects and CTAs, in a press release the CTA is usually skipped over. The real big difference is how people react to the forms, paid, earned, owned, When audiences see ads, they basically discount it - but something like earned media, you can drive stronger traffic and engagement. When people read an article it’s third party corroboration and social proof, which creates a good will with the reader.”
One of the barriers to leveraging PR is most companies, outside of company news or product releases, feel they lack stories that are genuinely newsworthy. Mickie has some suggestions on how to find PR-worthy stories within a company, and how to package and present them to journalists.
“Of course PR works better when the story is good, but just because you think you don’t have a good story, doesn’t mean you can’t use PR,” says Mickie. “An option I go over with potential clients is a study related to your niche, which can be a simple survey based on your industry and trends. The results can be a story that can be shared. Oddly, one of the things people ignore, when it comes to PR, is their story; how did the company begin, what was it that made you inspired to develop your company? There could be a good story there. Other approaches that make PR effective is data. If you can package analytics or data into a story-format, journalists love that stuff. If that data exposes widespread industry blindspots or gaps, those are themes that a trade publication would love to share.”
The interview then pivots into purpose-washing and newsjacking, and how PR is commonly misused by companies seeking to get into the spotlight.
“There are plenty of ways to participate in a news cycle, but very rarely do those things result in meaningful traction,” explains Mickie. “Contrarianism is very good for PR. Jumping on bandwagons like purpose and newsjacking are not effective, but coming up with a counterpoint to a popular trend is super tantalizing to journalists; they want to be fair and balanced and provide viewpoints that see another side. If you can provide that, then you’ve got something.”
We then discuss analytics and measuring the effectiveness of PR campaigns, which Mickie admits can be frustrating from a marketing standpoint, but he has a simple attribution question that can help.
“PR is frustrating from a marketing perspective because you can't throw a tracking URL in your write-up,” says Mickie. “However, you can look at your web traffic, channels, and then make the association with sales boosts. I find that generally asking people how they found out about you is a great way to discover where your message is resonating.”
To hear Mickie’s answer to the question, ‘how do you know when to fire yourself,’ a Cinderella story about PR that generated over $10m for restaurants, a dumpster fire tale about PR gone wrong, and if Mickie chooses pineapple pizza over candy corn, listen to the full show at the links provided.