Scoring Earned Media In a Virtual World with Victoria Kennedy

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While other firms are struggling, Victoria Kennedy of Victorious PR just had the best year of her life—and she expects to have it even better in 2021.

What’s her secret? And how does she go about getting her clients listed in publications like Forbes, Yahoo Finance, ABC, NBC, Fox, and more? What has she done to people her clients to become the #1 authorities in their niches

Turns out her secret isn’t so secret, it’s just pretty much the opposite of what most people are doing. Listen now so you can start turning some of her techniques to your advantage.

The highlights:

  • [1:31] Why traditional PR firms are struggling right now, and what Victoria is doing differently.
  • [3:55] The “new superpower of 2021” that you can start cultivating right now.
  • [6:15] How Victoria helps her clients through the reinvention process.
  • [8:45] The secrets of personal brand building.
  • [10:33] The utility of the press release.
  • [12:07] Why you should never “pay to play” in PR.
  • [13:56] Developing media relationships and contacts.
  • [16:47] The right way to pitch editors.
  • [19:46] Victoria’s cause.

The insights:

Why traditional PR firms are struggling right now

“The old ways to get into publications, where you go into networking events, and you schmooze and you drink and you take people out to coffee and lunch at expensive restaurants? You can’t do that anymore,” says Victoria. “That’s not coming back.”

She says this is fantastic news. 

“For people like us who work from home, who can work anywhere in the world, who can still network, find editors, find journalists, make connections, and use those to establish our PR business and do well in PR.”

She says she expects 2021 to be an even better year for people who can make this same sort of pivot. Garrett called it an “adapt-or-die” sort of situation. 

One way Victoria says she’s winning is by doing things the big corporations won’t do.

“I’m reaching out to people on Twitter. I’m reaching out to editors on the platforms they like. I’m messaging them. I’m following up with them. Things that big corporations don’t do, because they’re too good for it. I’m not too good to comment a funny meme on somebody’s tweet because I find it funny. I’m not too good for that. I went from zero to six figures in three months.”

The new superpower of 2021

Victoria mentioned that this weekend, she’ll be giving a TED talk on the subject of reinvention.

“Reinvention is the new superpower. Being able to adapt is what’s going to save you. Especially now.”

She points out that technology is moving hyper-fast, and jobs are becoming obsolete.

“Those who can adapt the quickest are the ones who are going to reap all the rewards. Not the ones that are oh, I’m sad, everything has turned out horribly. There’s always opportunity. The Great Depression produced the most millionaires ever.”

She says another thing that helped her succeed was using her digital marketing skills and transferring those marketing skills to PR. She offered other examples of these pivots and opportunities.

Maybe you’re in an agency. You’re a dog trainer. Did you ever think you could do that online? Start a course? There are so many different creative ways we can think. Think digitally, because that is the future.”

Helping clients reinvent themselves

So Victoria has reinvented herself on lock-down, but how does she help her clients do it?

“I do a brand strategy call. I take a look at their Facebook. Their website. If you’re listening, you need to do this for yourself. 2021 is the perfect time to do an audit. I bring up all their socials.”

Then, she starts dissecting them.

“This works. This doesn’t work. What are you trying to say here? The colors are all over the place. The colors are all over the place. Where is your brand? Where are you?

I don’t see you here. I see a mess of stuff. We’re going to clean this up for you. We’re going to make you new banners and a quick byline, one RMS (refined marketing statement). Make it short. Make it sweet. Make it to the point.

Let people know what it is you do.”

She says she doesn’t do any press until she’s helped her clients develop a solid landing page. There’s no point. You need to have a way to capture leads.

She says 2021 is the perfect time to clean up your brand and decide who you want to be moving forward.

“We can reinvent ourselves. If you want to pivot, if you wanna tell a different story about yourself, tell it!”

She does mention that many of her clients have these fascinating backstories and only have 800 words to share a notion of who they really are.

“Use this as a good thing. You can say this is who I am and know who you really are is sacred. The people who know you know you, and this is just your disguise. Your alter-ego, the form of the way you want people to perceive you. That’s really powerful. That’s so powerful to be able to control that narrative in a positive way.”

The secrets of personal brand building

One reason Victoria was able to ramp up her company so fast was because she’d put a lot of effort into building her personal brand already. 

“A lot of it comes with self-confidence. A lot of times we think we have to be what other people want us to be. I’d like to say now, more than at any other time in history, people are so accepting of whoever you are, however you are.”

She says you should resist the urge to present a “corporate” front.

“People don’t want to see you posting about your business testimonials, screenshots, every single freaking day. What they want to see are pictures of your dog. Pictures of your cat. We wanna see a funny meme. We wanna connect with you on a human level.

That’s how business is being done now. Not these big corporations who hide behind smokescreens. Whatever you want to amplify about yourself, do so.”

She says this is good news.

“Because you get to control the narrative. No one else. Understand that power. It puts you in the driver’s seat. Not someone in the passenger’s seat, letting life happen to you.”

When to use a press release

Victoria takes a moment to explain that a press release is not earned media.
“It’s a press release. A press release is: I have something really important to say. I don’t have any press at all about me. Maybe it’s a brand new offer. I just need to tell the world very quickly.”
She also notes that not all submission sites are created equally.
“You don’t want your brand associated with low-level sites.”
She warns against hiring someone on Fiverr to put out press releases.
“Really take the time to invest in it. It can be a powerful tool. A lot of my clients, for example, it’s Step 1 for me. If they’ve never had any press before, I’ve got to get them a press release. It’s definitely not the end-all-be-all strategy, but it’s definitely a great first step into getting real earned media.”

Why you should never "Pay to Play" in PR

Victoria says that while paying to syndicate a press release is normal, you should not be doing “pay to play PR.”

“If someone says: I can get you into Forbes for $4000, they’re always slimy. They don’t have a website. They don’t have a social presence. They’re in and out of the darkness. You give them their money through Bitcoin or Western Union. Be wary of these people. They’re not promoting themselves as PR people for a reason.”

She notes that if Forbes finds out you got a story with them that way they’ll take down your article and put you on a blacklist.

“It’s so important to do press the right way. Me and my company have actual connections. I know people on Forbes. I know the editor of Entrepreneur. I can get my clients through the traditional way, through relationships.

This is why PR companies can charge. Because we’ve taken the time to establish these relationships with these editors and with these magazines for our clients.

If you’re just starting off, start off small. You definitely can build these relationships, but please understand: this is a relationship, not what’s in it for me.”

Developing media relationships and contacts

“Relationships,” Victoria adds, are the only thing that’s going to save us moving forward. “Everything is turning digital. Which I’m not upset about. I’m very happy about it. However, what’s going to save us and bring the humanity back are relationships and really establishing them.”

Here, Victoria shares her method for forging relationships with editors, and for pitching them.

“You want to find editors where they like to hang out. It’s not about you. This is their magazine. Their audience. That they would graciously let you be a part of and talk to.

Where do they hang out?

Let me give you a secret. Editors and journalists love to hang out on Twitter. If you don’t have a Twitter, get one yesterday.”

She says that you should then start following them, hearting their posts, and RTing them.

“Understand what kinds of articles they write and what their audience likes.”

Then when it’s time to pitch?

“You can say: look, I’ve been following you the past month. They know. They’ve seen you like their stuff. I love this article you wrote the other day about blah, blah, blah. Your audience really loves marketing. I’ve written an article for you that I think will be perfect for your audience.

You don’t make it about yourself. You make it about them, and what it can do for their audience. You’ve established a relationship now. You’ve taken the time. They see that. You’re not another random pitch, and they want to work with you moving forward. Maybe if they don’t like that angle: try again, give me something else, don’t be afraid to pitch me in the future.

That happens to us all the time because we really take the time to get to know them before we pitch.”

She points out that editors are behind-the-scenes people.

“They’re not front-facing people that get thousands of likes on their stuff. They get one or two. If you consistently comment and post, they’re going to notice you.”

randall lane twitter

She points out they know the name of the game and they know they’re being pitched, but it’s about how you’re treating them.

“They don’t want to be treated like a piece of meat. Oh. You’ve copied and pasted this email to ten other editors. I’m not special. They don’t want to be treated that way. So don’t treat them that way. Write something special. They know it’s a pitch. That’s okay. It’s okay to pitch something. Understand the game. Just do it in a human way.” 

What’s your right now cause?

Victoria encourages leaders to treat their employees in a human way too.

“I want you to treat them like human beings and bring wellness to the workplace.”

She emphasizes gamifying the workplace, acknowledging the contributions of the entire team, and paying close attention to employee mental health.

“Mental wellness starts with us, as business owners. We’re the leaders. Treating our employees well is how we’re going to treat the restaurant people well. It’s how we’re going to treat our lives well. They’re going to see our example and treat their family members well and treat their friends well. It starts with wellness and that starts from the top up. We haven’t had good examples of that from leaders. It’s our responsibility as business owners and leaders to give that wellness to our team so they can spread it as well.”

In the spirit of treating people well, Victoria closes out with a gift for our listeners: The 5-Step Guide on How to Get Published in Top Publications. She created it just for you!

Connect with Victoria Kennedy

Victoria encourages listeners to say hi to her directly on Facebook. Mention you caught her on the Agency Ahead podcast and ask her any questions you like! 

Enjoy this podcast?

Please subscribe and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts to help spread the word.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Garrett Sussman

Garrett Sussman

Garrett is the head of content at Traject , a suite of digital marketing tools, and host of the Agency Ahead podcast. When he's not crafting content, he's scouting the perfect ice coffee, devouring the newest graphic novels, and concocting a new recipe in the kitchen.

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