Public Relations may be the last thing an MSP thinks about, but having good PR opportunities can open the door to new leads and even possible clients. You may just think your PR effort is limited to press releases, but don't you want to demonstrate your thought leadership by tying your business to the pulse of the IT industry? In this latest episode of MSPtv, Tracy Wemett, President and CEO of BroadPR, explains the untapped potenial of PR for MSPs. Want to attract better, more qualified IT talent? PR is not just a lead generation or sales tool. Looking to learn how to marry your influence in the local media with your own or your business's own social media presence? Tune in now!
Want more from Tracy? Download this free Public Relations How-To PDF, and learn the tips needed to become a top media influencer!
Have any suggestions for an MSPtv episode? Want to give us your feedback? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you think!
Scott Glidden: Hi folks, and welcome to another episode of MSPtv. I'm Scott Glidden, and with me here today is Tracy Wemett from BroadPR. How are you today?
Tracy Wemett: Great. How are you?
Scott Glidden: Very well, thanks.
Tracy Wemett: Excellent.
Scott Glidden: Tracy has more than 20 years of public relations experience in high tech, and she's going to help us today to understand public relations, PR as it gets called most often. Tracy, one of the things, to be very honest, I think when people hear the words PR they think of spin. But, PR is really quite honestly about public relations, correct?
Tracy Wemett: It is. It's about dealing with your public. It's about sharing information. It's about reaching your target audience, influencers, and relationship building.
Scott Glidden: Right. PR is really not just about writing press releases, correct?
Tracy Wemett: Right. It's more than press releases, although it does include press releases.
Scott Glidden: Yeah.
Tracy Wemett: It's also talking with the media, interviewing with them, getting to know them, getting to know how they cover your stories, and also understanding your audience, who you're selling to, so that you can reach them through particular publications or blogs and so forth.
Scott Glidden: Right. Many of our partners function within a local or regional area where a lot of their clients are and so forth, which really presents a great opportunity for them to be known in the local or regional media, correct? How would they go about maybe trying to establish some of those connections?
Tracy Wemett: Well, first, figure out which publications cover high tech or cover your particular type of service. Our partners, obviously, do IT services. They may have some particular specialties in financial services, health care market, legal, etcetera, and they can reach out to some of those local publications. All of the regions have high tech editors and folks that are following businesses, so online you can just find those folks and you can reach out to them. Especially as a business owner, you can say, "I own ABC Corp and we do X,Y,Z, and we'd love to be an information source any time you have a story on computers or IT or some of the data breaches that have been out there or any of those topics." Frankly, if you're credible, and our partners are, they'll probably want to reach out to you.
Scott Glidden: Right, and it is a good resource for the reporter, too, to not have to go hunt around and find somebody who can be that thought leader or expert in a region.
Tracy Wemett: Exactly, and they love talking to business owners, and they love talking to people who are making a living doing that type of thing. They're not just talking to a PR person per se. They're actually talking to the folks on the ground.
Scott Glidden: Sure. There is an old saying that no PR is bad PR kind of thing, but that's really sort of not true, right?
Tracy Wemett: Right. I mean obviously you don't want to have negative PR, I think to that point, some people have been a little apprehensive about doing PR or getting known in the media. They have so much business. We've had great success at continuing with the partners being really successful, so some folks may be a little shy about putting their name out there, because they want to go under the radar. They've got enough business already. But, PR is not just about getting leads. It's not necessarily a sales tool. It's also a motivational tool. It's an awareness tool. It'll help you track good talent. A lot of our partners are saying, "Hey, we need to find good talent."
Scott Glidden: Sure, absolutely.
Tracy Wemett: One of the best ways you can do that is talk about your services, have the media cover you, and let the people in the regional area know that this is a hot company, this is a great organization, and they might want to apply.
Scott Glidden: In your experience, we were talking a little bit earlier that one of the sales components of good public relations is the fact that when you are going out there and maybe looking for that slightly larger client than what you're used to dealing with, it gives you a little bit of a leg up. Correct?
Tracy Wemett: Absolutely, absolutely. Some of the larger enterprises want to see that the media's covering you. They want to see that you've got press releases on your website. They want to see that you're going to events, that you're speaking, that you're a thought leader, a by-lined article in a journal. That brings a lot of credibility to their choice in choosing which organization to go with. There are a lot of people out there doing similar things, and they need to see that you've got something a little bit above the rest.
Scott Glidden: Right. You really sort of these days can't talk about a communications plan, which would include public relations, without sort of talking about social media.
Tracy Wemett: Right.
Scott Glidden: Quite honestly, in many of the conversations I've had with our partners, it's not something that is necessarily a comfort area for them. But, it is the way that a majority of the world is communicating these days. What are your suggestions and your suggestions around what they should be paying attention to?
Tracy Wemett: Well, first of all, LinkedIn is a definite must for any business person. They should have a personal LinkedIn, and certainly their business should have a LinkedIn. They should keep that current and updated. In terms of Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and Facebook, those you really have to decide what kind of resources you can put to those things. I would say after LinkedIn, Twitter would be the most important, especially from a PR perspective. All of the publications that cover you probably have a Twitter feed, and the journalists each individually have Twitter feeds.
Scott Glidden: Sure, yeah.
Tracy Wemett: So, follow those guys. See what they're saying. If you don't have the resources to put together your own social plan or whatever, you can certainly take advantage of the great social media work that Continuum is doing. You could repurpose and repost and point to the things that Continuum is doing. Or, if you do have the resources to do Twitter, maybe a young person or maybe an intern or maybe a specialist in that area, put them on it and start engaging with your customers and engage with the media.
Scott Glidden: Right, right. A couple of things around that. I think one is by engaging other staff members. Obviously as a partner, you need to feel comfortable with that employee and that they understand and respect the reputation of the organization as well. When you're getting into something like tweeting and what have you, we're talking 10 or 15 tweets a week, correct?
Tracy Wemett: Right, right, absolutely. So, we would not recommend that you just open a Twitter account just to have one.
Scott Glidden: Right, right.
Tracy Wemett: Because it would be better that you don't have one than point someone to an account that has just a few tweets a month or one a year or something crazy. We understand that not everybody can. The specialty that our partners have is IT. That's their specialty. They are bringing a lot to the table in that area. Again, they can utilize what Continuum is doing. They can follow things on their own without having their own Twitter account. They could still track what's going on and see what customers are saying, potential prospects, and so forth. Really, I wouldn't start something unless you can move forward with it.
Scott Glidden: Right. It's interesting. My experience with Twitter is it's really a place where the phrase quid pro quo really plays out quite well. Because if you're retweeting somebody else's post, they kind of will say thank you by retweeting some of yours.
Tracy Wemett: Absolutely. It works well with the media. The media are like all of us. They love to be complimented. They love to be told their piece was great. In fact, you can tell them. Give them a shout out and say, "Hey, that piece that you covered us in, fantastic piece, shared it with your people." Email it to your email list and all that kind of thing.
Scott Glidden: Yeah. In order to sort of help our partners understand a little bit about what they really should be building towards, and many of them are small to mid-sized businesses themselves, should they go out and hire a PR agency? What are some of the first steps that they should begin to take?
Tracy Wemett: I think they should really sit back and see what they want to do. You could talk, certainly, with the Continuum team. They have a great marketing and PR team, obviously. You could just assess what you want to accomplish and maybe do an audit. We can do audits for Continuum partners. We can look at what they want to accomplish, and we can kind of advise them as to whether they should have someone internal, if they should maybe hire a firm, it could be a one or two person firm, or if they want to go ahead and do some of their own things.
Scott Glidden: Yeah, yeah.
Tracy Wemett: A lot of business owners are great spokespeople, but so are some of the people that work with them. Again, to your point, as long as they trust that the message is being told correctly, those people can also reach out to the local business editor, the local tech editor, not just about the services that they provide. If you're contacting the media to tell them about how great you are, to tell them about what you're doing, it's not really news to them.
Scott Glidden: Right.
Tracy Wemett: Instead, what would be great is certainly if you made an introduction and said, "Hey, I've never reached out to you before. I've read some of your work. It's fantastic. I think you might be interested in what we're doing, but I'd love to let you know that I'm a resource. If anything comes up about high tech, computers, I.T., breaches, whatever, I'd love to be able to comment on that."
Scott Glidden: Right.
Tracy Wemett: We've had partners do that with great success.
Scott Glidden: Yeah. I think, too, an important part of this is that public relations is not kind of a one off thing.
Tracy Wemett: Exactly. It's relationship building.
Scott Glidden: Right.
Tracy Wemett: So, it's getting to know the media. I typically go in, and I'll say, "Who are the top five or top ten influencers, top journalists that we want to reach out to?" We want to make sure that we're engaged with them, we're talking with them, and I'm not just reaching out to them any time I want them to write about a story I just put out.
Scott Glidden: Right, yeah.
Tracy Wemett: If I'm only reaching out to them every time I have a press release, it just gets old. It's just like friends and family.
Scott Glidden: The media won't jump on that, no.
Tracy Wemett: No. The thing is timing is everything, so you've got to be in contact with them constantly. It's really just like sales, right?
Scott Glidden: Right.
Tracy Wemett: If you do a cold call, you don't just knock them dead with the sale. You actually have to talk about what you do, get to know what they do, understand if there's a fit, and then you build that relationship. Really, with the media, it's a long term relationship. Those folks may jump from publication to publication, but they generally stay within the media.
Scott Glidden: They take their leads with them and stuff, their relationships.
Tracy Wemett: They do. Yeah, their relationships. They're also fantastic writers.
Scott Glidden: Right.
Tracy Wemett: I know of media people. We both know of some media people who have been with the media, and now they've come on and they're doing PR or they're writing case studies.
Scott Glidden: Yeah.
Tracy Wemett: Fantastic resources.
Scott Glidden: Absolutely. Well, thanks very much for coming by today.
Tracy Wemett: Oh, you're welcome.
Scott Glidden: We hope you take away today a better understanding of what public relations can mean for you and for your organization. There are a couple of links below. One of them is a PR guide with some tools and tips in it that I think you'll find very helpful. Also, Tracy has offered to do a free PR assessment for those of you that are willing to click on the link below. She'll give you some ideas about where you are and maybe how you can improve things going forward. We look forward to seeing you again here on MSPtv.
Leveraging PR is just one piece of the MSP marketing puzzle...
By Brandon Garcin
By Gretchen Hoffman