This week we take a closer look at the top DIY PR tips and the mysterious world of Public Relations. Some are too scared to give writing a media pitch or press release a go, while others think it’s all about a few freebies and you’ll score yourself a permanent segment on The Project.
There really are only two possible outcomes with PR: You either waste your (and the media’s) time with generic press releases that floods inboxes and will be binned quicker than you can say ‘hey there’ or you get your head around the inner workings, nail it and open your brand up to incredible new opportunities.
Odette Barry approaches things differently and is determined to make successful PR accessible for all small business. She runs Odette & Co, a ground-breaking digital marketing and PR agency that is not afraid to say it how it is. Odette believes that with commitment, true understanding of your business and the media landscape, successful DIY PR is entirely possible and can save you some serious dough along the way. I caught up with Odette to hear her DIY PR tips firsthand and find out more about her personal business journey, PR success stories and her signature programme that turns small business owners into PR guns. Here goes…
In 2016 I moved to the GLORIOUS Byron Bay and quickly realised that jobs and careers in paradise are hard to come by. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to fall into an avalanche of freelance work as soon as I put the good word out there, which quickly evolved into an agency.
Having worked on both sides…or is it three sides of the media and communications industry – in-house as both a digital marketer and a PR manager, in publishing as the digital content manager for Women’s Fitness magazine and as a PR and digital marketing agency owner, I’ve seen how things operate and have a really holistic view of communications.
I’ve worked on big budget campaigns and more recently in the small business landscape I’ve worked with more conservative numbers. In the tightening economic markets I’ve also realised that resourceful business owners need skills to DIY their PR and social media marketing because they don’t always have cash.
I offer social media advertising and public relations workshops in Byron Bay and in 2019 I launched my 8 week ‘Hack your own PR’ program that teaches business owners and communicators how to implement a clever, thoughtful and slow PR strategy that genuinely delivers results. It’s one of my proudest accomplishments to date. My clients have appeared in Channel 7, Studio 10, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Women’s Health, Pedestrian, Elle, The Good Weekend, ABC, Kidspot, Gourmet Traveller, Anthill and Marketing Magazine (and SO many more!).
I’m incredibly proud of the approach that I teach in PR as I’ve seen it work both for the businesses that learn new skills and score coverage but also for the journalists who no longer receive crappy pitches that are irrelevant to their audiences.
Ha! Can we describe it as fell into it?
Realising that career options were EXTREMELY limited in Byron Bay meant that I had two options: return to Melbourne winters (no thanks!!) or make something work.
I started out with a few freelance PR and copywriting gigs on the side of my local contract work before that quickly snowballed. I had put a note or two out to colleagues and in the LMBDW Facebook group and within about 2 months I was up to my eyeballs in projects. I invited a good friend and very VERY clever copywriter to help me out with flow and soon I was bringing on a media executive and digital coordinator. In 2018 we wrote our first comprehensive workshops and soon added two more programs into the mix when I invited two trainers to help deliver to our demand.
It was incredibly rapid growth and I’ve since tried to slow down the speed and focus our work on smaller projects with conscious companies that are founded in ethical principles for our communities, their people, or an environmental focus and even those campaigning for social justice. This ensures the work that we do brings 100 per cent joy to each and every day.
There are very few levers that businesses can pull that can build trust and reputation like appearing in media headlines. The PR industry can be incredibly confusing from the outside, mysterious even, but the reality is that it’s a craft that any business owner with a story to tell, can wrap their head around. The DIY PR tips that I teach through my ‘Hack your own PR’ program will give business owners and brands the confidence to craft a meaningful strategy and start pitching (and winning!) their story to their ideal print, radio, TV, digital and podcast outlets.
Understanding how each platform can play a role in your communications strategy helps you understand at which point in the journey to push the button. It would be a wasted opportunity for a business to score headline coverage when they didn’t yet have a website that can convert new traffic. Likewise, a business without a solid social media footprint will want to ensure they’ve established themselves before pitching out to media.
Understand who you’re talking to. Who is your audience and where do they find their news and entertainment? That’s where you want to be. Refine and polish your key messages. Research meaningful, interesting and unusual angles. Develop a punchy and flattering media bio. Craft a witty, concise and to-the-point pitch. Then get out there and make some magic!
People think that to secure media coverage you have to be a celebrity or have a PR with a little black book full of contacts. The truth is, if you’ve got a good story to tell then you’re pretty much there. Busy news desks are hungry for good stories and journos love having trusted, quality experts available for comment. If you research (and stalk!!) your fave outlets and the journos who are writing for them on social media and start building a rapport with them you will be well on your way to a new and long term friendship that will be rewarding for the lifetime of your business. You don’t need to pay $5k/month, you can absolutely DIY your PR.
I had the pleasure of helping to tell a particular story that still tugs at the ‘ol heart strings. It begins with an incredible woman and esteemed food author named Jody Vassallo.
Jody lives on a rural property in Tilba on the southern NSW coast and cares for a small flock of sheep. When the drought forced her to buy hay, she was blindsided with the realisation of the magnitude of the problem that farmers in central Australia and Queensland were facing.
Having written upwards of 20 cookbooks and having worked in the food industry for over 20 years, Jody deeply felt the connection with the farmers through the produce that she and her peers had built their careers on. As she fed the imported hay to her sheep an idea materialised. She had a great way to help raise money to support the farmers. Using her resources, experience and support of her friends, she would make a cookbook and donate all proceeds of the sales to the farming community doing it tough. Jody put the call out to her pals, and quickly she started to receive some resounding YESs! Jamie Oliver was in, then Matt Moran, Ronni Kahn, Stephanie Alexander, Maggie Beer… soon everyone she knew was putting their hand up to participate.
The community has thrown their support behind the project, each giving their time, their talents and their love back to the food producers who have been their lifeblood. They connected to the story of these farmers because they saw themselves in them. We have been out to farms all across rural and regional Australia talking with farmers about the challenges, the heart ache but also the joy of their work. Each and every person working on the land spoke of their love, of the sunsets, the connection to nature, the connection to community and their respect for the elements.
And I, for one, am chuffed to have been a part of this.
It was my absolute pleasure to be invited by Jody to craft a custom PR and social media campaign with an initial (albeit preeeetty daunting) $60k target.
Turns out, we’re not the only ones who melt in the presence of a good story, because once we secured coverage in Delicious, Taste, Gourmet Traveller, ABC news, ABC radio, and Channel 7’s Daily Edition, we ended up smashing the initial target and managed to generate over $150k (and counting!).
And at the heart of this success. The story behind this beautiful book.
The audience immediately connected to the cause on an emotional level.
How could you not?
The momentum grew because of the way that it was effectively broadcast on a variety of storytelling channels, exploring all the good angles from cookbook extracts to food media, to mainstream media on the radio, to television cooking demos and interviews, and magazines (who were quite happy to accept beautiful high-resolution imagery and considered content, thankyouverymuch).
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The audience-driven copywriter and brand strategist for female founders who replaces copy dead ends with a strategic take on copywriting. One that believes in intentional brand touchpoints and empathy-driven copy to nurture genuine connections.
Over the past 7-odd years I've given 100+ women-led brands globally the strategy and words to nurture genuine connections, drive sales and celebrate loyalty. Authentically.
I live and work on the breathtaking Darug land of the Darug people. I pay my respects to the Darug Elders, past and present, and the Aboriginal Elders of other communities who may be here today.
Always was, always will be Aboriginal Land.