16 Oct How Susan Heaton Wright of Executive Voice Does Her Own PR
One of our experts, Susan Heaton Wright of Executive Voice shares some of her PR secrets…
Susan, tell us about your business and the coverage you’ve had so far
I have two businesses; Viva Live Music – which provides live entertainment for corporate and private events: including weddings, 50th Birthday parties and barmitzvahs, and Executive Voice: which is a vocal and communications training and Consultancy organization. The other director from Viva Live Music who sings as ‘The Romantic Tenor’ arranged to have a consultation with Paula to develop a PR strategy for raising his profile and to launch his CD.
So, how much time do you spend on PR?
I would say: on average 4 – 6 hours a week.
What have you found most successful?
The nature of my businesses is ‘audio’ so public speaking, appearances on the radio, showcases of the musicians’ work create the most impact. I have a blog which I link to Twitter. Articles from the blog have been picked up by related businesses and included on their websites – from Quebec to Australia. I produce newsletters/ ezines. I have also recently started using Audioboo – which showcases the businesses well – linking them to Twitter, the blog, websites and newsletters. I have written articles and put them on syndication sites with links to the websites: I’m amazed at how much traffic to the websites this has generated. We are also going to ‘broadcast’ a radio programme online.
Creating articles or information that defines me as an expert has been most productive. I have been successful in creating top tips for using musicians effectively for your event; advice for interviews (using the voice) etc. These have been included in other people’s websites, blogs and newsletters with links through to my websites.
I have regularly contributed to BBC Three Counties Radio. A series of interviews with one of the presenters. These had to be repeated due to listener requests and demands. I am hoping to start a new series!
Where are you now with your relationships with the press?
We have developed a press list with the local press and also with some specialist magazines. I have had an intern from Hertfordshire University, who has assisted in building up media lists. I have had articles in specialist publications; the local press and regional glossies. Also related websites.
What do you enjoy least?
I don’t like constantly contacting journalists following up information I have sent. I find it quite time consuming with low success rates: I’m clearly not doing something right!
What’s been your highest point so far PR-wise?
For St Valentine’s Day, the Romantic Tenor was on three radio programmes: Hertbeat, BBC Three Counties Radio and LBC as well as articles on websites and in the press about ‘Romance’. The Romantic Tenor received sound samples of his ‘appearances’ that he’s been able to add to his website.
And your lowest?
Having worked hard at establishing some good relationships with BBC East and ITV East only to discover that the location of our business is 6 miles outside the ‘boundary’ for these stations. I have tried without success (so far) to develop key relationships
Being contacted by LBC to be interviewed via the phone whilst on holiday. I did a lot of prep for the interview and was psyched up; only for a major news story to occur overnight and the feature was pulled from the programme!
What have you learnt about PR ?
Journalists are looking for stories, so if you can provide an interesting one, that is of benefit to them. PR isn’t just about getting articles in the press but increasing your image and impact in a variety of ways so that people get to know about you and your business. Whether that is giving a presentation to the local Chamber of Commerce or an appearance on national TV, it is all increasing your profile and that of your business.
One of the greatest discoveries was when I had a telephone conference call as part of the Divine PR Club was that there are different types of PR and we all have preferences for certain types. Whilst I enjoy writing, I make the most impact from Public Speaking; showcasing the musicians and being interviewed on radio. As I have limited time, I have realized that it is best to focus on this.
What did you find helpful about the consultation with Paula?
There are many ways of creating publicity for the business. You need to be creative to come up with ideas. There are a number of free or inexpensive ways of starting PR so that you can gain confidence – as I have. Writing a blog has been great for promoting our business activities – and for gaining confidence in developing my writing style.
I found the concept of defining yourself as an expert extremely valuable; it was then quite straight forward coming up with some ideas as an ‘expert’.
I also found it fascinating; energizing and creative meeting with Paula. She had so many simple ideas for increasing one’s profile: many activities which didn’t cost huge sums of money – something that a small business doesn’t have.
Any advice for someone starting their own business?
Instead of spending large sums of money on advertising, see if you can offer ‘top tips’ or ‘expert advice’ articles to local newspapers; specialist publications and websites. Start writing a blog and have a Twitter or Facebook account for your business. See if the local press are looking for prizes for competitions; ditto auction prizes for charities.
And finally, can you link a rise in turn over with PR?
I have been surprised at how many people listen to local radio and read magazines/newspapers. Although I am not able to measure increases in turnover directly related to PR activities, certainly more people know about my businesses and it all increases the ‘visibility’ of them and develops the image of us being experts and trustworthy.