Steven Dubin: Understanding PR with PR Works

December 27, 2019

Is your company in need of a popularity boost?

Steven Dubin is the president and founder of PR Works.

PR Works is a public relations and advertising firm dedicated to helping businesses become well known.

Their mission is to help their clients gain visibility and use their visibility to craft new business opportunities.

PR Works covers small to medium businesses and offers media relations, social media, advertising, web services, and much more.

Learn more about how PR Works can help your company become well known by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on  Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.

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Welcome to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, founder and CEO of up my We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. stick around to the end of the show, where I'll reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest-growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go. So, Steven Dubin, you are the president and founder of PR Works. Welcome to the show.

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Yep. Alright, so just, in a nutshell, you guys are a PR agency, you are in the Massachusetts area. Just a little bit about like, what maybe what services you provide and who you work with, and kind of the outcome that you like to See for your clients.

Okay, so the general views we- I got into this business. I had started with legitimate work as a reporter and an editor on the newspaper side. And very early on, I determined two things. One, I wasn't built for abject poverty. And I thought that there were a lot of different ways of telling stories and getting clients in front of their core audience above and beyond print. And I guess I was ahead of my time because I realized that about 30 years ago and since then, we- we started with a handful of Senior Health Care kind of clients. So assisted living retirement communities, home health care, long term care insurance, reverse mortgage nursing homes and- and we grew from there into a very eclectic mix, where we do a lot of franchise work. We do a lot of business to business, legal and accounting firm work. But as I mentioned in our, in our pre-meeting, our favorite are really offbeat clients- clients who have great stories to tell unusual businesses. And they're just not quite sure how to capture that story fully and get it to the right gatekeepers, so they get free coverage.

So Stephen, what are some of the biggest mistakes that you think clients make? I have, I have Miss hired PR help previously with savings Angel, my other company to the tune of 25 grand and had very little to show for it. And I have heard lots of other horror stories. In and I think some of that really comes down to, I think that the PR industry has really not evolved. I think there's some really smart, great talented people in the space. But I think, by and large, I don't think that they've, they've kept up with technology and culture and the fact that anyone you want to reach out to and connect with, they're all accessible on social media. And so, but where do you see clients maybe making some- some mistakes when they're- when they're trying to get connected with PR help?

Well, I think it's a really common problem. And one of the- one of the realities is if you go get your hair cut in my state Anyway, you have to have 4000 hours and certification to even be a haircutter. From a PR standpoint, anybody can buy a sign in a shingle and they're in business, and most prospects or clients don't know how to vet An industry they don't understand. And so oftentimes, they're talking to an impressive salesperson who may never have worked in the press. They probably have a degree in marketing from a college but they've never really been in the arena to make things happen. And they don't really know how the game is played of the kind of win-win conversations you need to have with key press people to have them give you very valuable real estate for free. And so our business is almost like making magic from that we are really putting together good pitches to the right people so that we can get in front of very specific new audiences that our message will resonate with. And, and the way we do that is by putting together ideas, story angles that will work with those media outlets. And, and we become an extended editorial staff as opposed to a nuisance. We're actually providing them with good news, good news ideas, good story ideas, and giving them easy access to get them done. And oftentimes only write them for the press from an objective informational standpoint so that it's a simple turnkey opportunity for them.

Yeah. So for someone who maybe doesn't quit it, maybe they're not ready to plunk down a couple thousand dollars a month for PR help. What things do you recommend that they do before they bring in that talent?

Well, so one of the things I think they need to We look at is what- what do we need? First? What are the building blocks for our program? And so in some cases, we work with clients not just on retainer but even on an all a cart by project basis to give them exactly what they need, although some people can do this themselves. And sometimes oftentimes, the building blocks of a program are obviously a good website that communicate your message well, and it looks professional, it's easy to navigate, and has it's loaded up with keywords and key phrases, it searches well. Next step is a press kit that really tells everything they need to know about your company and entices the press to write about you. So it provides them with story ideas and provides them with BIOS, it provides them with backgrounders and industry factoids, and then they need to start building a portfolio of music releases that have a shred of news in them that may work and resonate with their local press. So, as a quick example, one of the companies we started working with more than a decade ago is called boot camp for new dads and introduces first-time dads with recent dads and their babies. And we have over 400 hospitals around the world that post these programs. They weren't quite sure where to start, although they knew they had great visuals and a great story to tell when we needed to start getting that story out to the press inviting the press, to come into meetings to film it to experience it. And we realized that the real crossroad of opportunity was Father's Day. The press was looking for stories on Father's Day. And so on Father's Day, it's not uncommon for either me or our client to be on literally CNN Or Good Morning America. We've been in Time Magazine. It's- it's sometimes finding the right story, building those blocks, and then rolling it out at an appropriate time with the right message. Another example of that is we're about to promote a new Irish bread that breaks the paradigm of Irish bread. Have you ever had Irish bread?

I'm sure I have, but I don't- I don't recall it myself.

If you had you'd still be cringing. You know? No, okay. It's known for being dry and, and a real sort of acquired ethnic taste. Now our client has changed that paradigm and made something moist and delicious and sweet. And we- we will roll that out on St. Patrick's Day. So the press again is looking for great stories that are change showing you a shift in- in sort of effort. Taste around that holiday will get a ton of coverage for that.

So you mentioned releases. And so where do you see most people screwing up? press releases or pitches to the media. Yeah. So that's a softball, by the way.

Right? Yeah. I'm trying not to swing at the fastball too soon.

Yeah, so I see the real problem is most people don't understand the difference between self-promotion. Yeah, viding useful, interesting information. So if you start out with

you can get a discount on our home improvement

services. If you bundle it with our termite inspection, well, that's really an ad as opposed to talking about, we have a home improvement company and we also provide some pest control. These two things, combined together can provide you with greater value as a homeowner. And so we try to educate clients about how do we position your interesting, useful service as something that is valuable to your core audience as opposed to trying to sell it with a price or with too much polish. And that's where I see mistakes that the pitch itself is to self-aggrandizement or social and the news releases are not really a value to anybody but the company itself.

What do you say to someone who says we're not going to mess with PR? We're just going to keep throwing money at Facebook ads that seem to be working for us right now.

What we usually say you know, we've been a bridesmaid before

And, and if that doesn't work for you, here's our number. But most people, if they take that posture they may have already had, they may have a predisposed decision, and I don't need to. They're a lot. We're very busy now the economy has been very good. We're finding that Facebook is good for certain things. And it is one up, it's simply one channel. It is not a full program. Right. And so usually it is not a panacea. And we try to I think some people have to take their lumps before they- they realize they need to move in another direction. Or a- a more integrated approach where they're using achieved media, e-newsletters. speaker's bureau ebooks to two Create a lead generator and sort of the bigger picture marketing communications kind of tools that we try to provide clients with.

And how important do you think that reputation management so and what would be included in someone who is concerned about? You know, how they may appear online? Like what are the elements that can help them? Let's say they got some negative press, for example, or they got some, you know, they just they had a, maybe a bad employee bad something, and they got a bunch of negative reviews. Yeah. And it happens, even though good, honest business owners. But what are some things they can do to kind of turn that ship around?

Right? So, you know, we've learned now in this in this world of

easy access

And critical feedback that anybody can throw a molotov cocktail at you a justly or unjustly. And step one, we work with clients of responding quickly and in a level headed way. And so that means not becoming adversarial, not becoming personal, not becoming further inflammatory, you don't want to put gas on that. And, and the other thing is, you know, one of the- one of the marvels of PR is that it often can stay ahead of bad press, or dilute it greatly by having all kinds of positive visibility and reviews so that the educated consumer can make a better decision and weigh all that evidence. So as an example, my wife wanted to go to Manhattan recently for the weekend. I did some search online, found a boutique hotel. One review said, I'm not considered any kind of sissy, but I, I wouldn't sleep in their bed fully closed. You said wonderful little boutique hotel, wonderful pricing, great access to downtown Manhattan. So I said to my wife, what do you think here's to math. She said, you know, that's the world today. We need to be

the whiners versus the winners

and try to have a decision. So a lot of what we would do is load up all kinds of positive ongoing messaging so that when the inevitable madman throws their Molotov car, there there is.

There's a safety net already built online. Mm-hmm.

That's great. That's great. Awesome. Well, certainly Again, thank you so much. Steven Dubin, you are the founder and CEO of PR Works. You're available on the web at PR work zone dot com. And you have a free book and it is a crash course on PR one on one. What else is in the book?

Well, it talks a lot about the various tools of both how to access the press and how to better communicate to your existing audiences who are likely to be over the top loyal fans who needs encouragement typically, in buying more, buying more frequently, referring more and giving you a better sense of even the stranger who has a mirror image of that client so that you have a better sense of how to build your business. Most businesses are at a plateau because they don't know how to reach out effectively and are in marketing help them do that on a more frequent basis and move the needle.

That's great. Well, Stephen, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time.

Thank you for yours. Take care.

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