I had an opportunity to do a phone interview recently with Drew Gerber of Wasabi Publicity, Inc. — one of the nation´s top virtual PR firms according to a recent article in PR Week.
The folks at Wasabi are not only dedicated PR craftspeople, but beyond that they´re also dedicated to offering options to meet any PR budget. Drew was kind enough to share some tips for successful PR and talk about their PressKit24/7 which offers users for $199 a month, with no contracts, a way to have a big PR presence in the face of competing coverage. I took the system for a test drive and am exceedingly impressed by its user-friendliness and media capabilities. If you´re struggling to find the budget to hire an in-house PR person or bring on a full-fledged PR firm, this kit should surely be thrown in to fiscally balanced mix for consideration.
NH: Hi Drew, thanks for adding your Wasabi spice to this interview. What are the most important things anyone can do for good PR buzz and reach?
DG: Five tips I give anyone would include:
1. Really research the media venue or publication you´re hoping to target. There are so many tools for search in Google that you can really get a good idea of how you are pitching and personalize that pitch as much as you can.
2. Don´t overdo blast emails and make sure what you´re sending is newsworthy.
3. Have an online press kit to disseminate information. This is really important because more and more journalists and editors are working virtually and go to your site to find what they need.
4. Send links versus attachments. That includes to your press kits. Media loathe attachments unless they´ve specifically requested the file beforehand. This is because large files jam up their email inboxes — don´t be rude.
5. Make sure you keep your press contact list current with the correct people.
NH: Going back to the point you made about working virtually, can you talk about Presskit24/7?
DG: Sure. The great thing about is that it is a platform that we solely focused in developing for enabling the SMBs and Mid-size businesses to have a real PR Web presence. We´ve found many independent PR folks are using it. And it´s also great for independent authors, independent publicists, entrepreneurs, non-profits and academic settings. Our goal is to really help folks expand their reach and their skills in building a strong contact base and system.
A real benefit of this system is you don´t need an IT person to manage it for you. It´s built on a very easy interface and content management system so it´s extremely easy to learn and begin to use. We completely customize each press kit down to graphics, colors and training and there´s not a long-term contract. So if you need it for one month you pay $199 and the pricing always stays that amount per month.
NH: One of the struggles I think is being able to manage the press contacts and show and track results of your PR outreach efforts, how does this system help?
DG: First, the biggest thing it offers is that beyond enabling you to build custom lists and keep all your contacts and push out and track your news in one place, it also makes any reporter´s job much easier because it enables them to have 24/7 access to your site and any news. This gets you much more coverage. Plus the system lets you see who visits the links sent in emails — a feature that most excites people.
NH: And on the reporting side, I noticed there are several ways to generate reports?
DG: Absolutely, it offers reports that can be either sent in Excel or Word and you can send those directly to your clients who want to know where you stand at any given time. As we know PR is about relationships, but for the people we´re serving it is also a great benefit to be able to show them what initiatives and return on those are being made in a very straight-forward manner.
NH: Do you have a favorite success story from one of your Press247 users about coverage they gained?
DG: Our Senior Publicist, Michelle Tennant, was frantic one evening "?¦ she needed to send a photo to the Wall Street Journal that evening. An overnight delivery with the print wouldn´t do because the reporter´s deadline was 9 p.m. that evening (reporters often wait to the last minute; they´re just very busy.) She couldn´t send a large photo attachment because they needed high resolution and their firewalls would reject large files. Thank goodness we had online press kit technology that didn´t require a webmaster because Michelle was able to directly upload the photo in seconds and send a link — using her own email account so the reporter would recognize the email. (They get hundreds of emails each day.) Our client was featured in the Wall Street Journal the next day. What´s more, Michelle was able to get the job done quickly and still have time to go kayaking that night after work. I think she´d say having personal time is just as important as making our media contacts and clients happy.
NH: What do you hope the system will accomplish for people? And are there more developments coming?
DG: The system is intended to make media relations efficient not only for business professionals but also the media. We that in two ways: 1) making the press kits easy to edit from anyway and 2) keeping media contact information and follow-up handy & accessible from the Internet anywhere in the world. Let´s face it, we all need to upload and download documents quickly and efficiently from the web. Going through an IT department isn´t always efficient. So, if we´re able to empower people to get the media coverage they need for their businesses by making their outreach organized and efficient, then we´ve gotten our job done well.
NH: And finally, can you talk about your free newsletter and the monthly Wasabi club meetings?
DG: The last Wednesday of every month at 1pm (EST) we host "The Wasabi Club" which provides professionals insider tips to publicity. Mostly, publicists attend so they can get creative ideas on news angles or campaign strategies, but we´ve found that many entrepreneurs are attracted to the meetings because they get a behind-the-scenes look at how to generate editorial coverage. It´s free and past meetings can be downloaded for free. Our newsletter provides seasonal news angles and topics we´ll discuss at the Wasabi Club.