One of the most exciting things a business can experience in the early stages of development and growth is some kind of public attention leading to an increase in sales and other opportunities. Wouldn’t you agree? That’s what we, TicketKick®, recently experienced when our President, Greg Muender, was featured on our local news and in an article about startups which ran on Yahoo! Finance and CNN Money.
Traffic spiked, our sales tripled, and we received an overwhelming multitude of franchise offers, book publishing opportunities, and other journalist’s inquiries from all over the country. Sounds like the perfect PR scenario, right? It was, and people loved the story of how Muender turned an unfortunate circumstance of getting three traffic tickets in three weeks into a million dollar legal service. People love to hear about other’s successes, especially in a down economy. But that was just part of what attracted people to our story.
What makes news?
You may be passionate at what you do, but how can you get others to share the same enthusiasm and become advocate for your company or cause? Since the beginning, we’ve known that what we had going was a great thing- a cheap and easy way to get a traffic ticket dismissed as an alternative to hiring an expensive lawyer- how could anyone not like us? But getting the attention of the press isn’t as easy as just being awesome and simply existing (although I am sure you are!). We had to turn our story into news if we wanted attention, and we had to highlight exactly what we knew we had to make the news and get people excited.
I consider Sally Stewart’s Media Training- A Guide to Meeting the Press somewhat of a PR bible. In it, she lists what makes news (i.e. hot topics, trends, big money topics), and when I first read it, I knew we had the recipe to get people’s attention. It’s been a down economy, and people love hearing about successful startup stories that began from an everyday experience that they can relate to.
Here we had a 19 year old college student with a bad string of luck get three tickets in three weeks. He did some research and found a very effective way to contest a ticket in California through a trial by written declaration. He researched the law, found some loopholes, fought all three and two of them were dismissed. The third one he took traffic school for and kept a clean record. Friends and family started coming to him with their tickets and soon he had to quit his job due to the sheer amount of referrals he had to start his business.The journalist who wrote our Yahoo & CNN articles loved the story, and apparently, so did everyone else.
Regarding getting the media’s attention, we had two things going for us: a great startup story, and a hot topic which just about everyone can relate to. Who doesn’t get traffic tickets? How do you feel about those red light cameras, anyway? Boy do we have some things to say about those!
Can any business be news worthy?
I think it can, but you may have to get creative. You’re the expert in your industry, and more than likely you’ve got something that other people don’t have- experience, knowledge, or a better way of doing something. And you have the opportunity to share it. Even if you don’t have as eccentric of a startup story, or perhaps you’ve got less of a hot topic to work with, you more than likely do have something of value to people.
Do you help people save money when financial times are tough? Do you provide a way of making something easier for people? Do you fill a need that up until now hasn’t been filled? Perhaps your business has made strides at making less of an environmental impact than your competitors. More than likely you have something to offer that relates to a hot topic people are concerned with.
Even if you’re not traditionally trained- you’re good at what you do and people will listen to you. Greg never stepped a foot in law school, but he found a way that worked. He discovered an opportunity to fill a niche people needed, and he found the properly trained people to make the legal end happen. If your business is thriving, it just means that YOU have found another way to succeed over your competitors in your industry. Only you know what that is, and perhaps your customers or clients could tell you what makes you so great. My point is, find it, accentuate it, and find a way to relate it to mass amounts of people. They’ll love you for showing them.
Sara Schoonover is Vice President of ofTicket Kick, a California company that helps drivers with fines for speeding, speeding tickets and other traffic tickets dismissed by helping drivers through the trial by written declaration process. The company, which formally launched in 2010 after providing similar services since 2006, is the leading company in this space and growing rapidly.