By Hope Katz Gibbs
founder and president
Inkandescent Public Relations
Screenwriter Leo Rosten once said, “I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.”
That thoughtful philosophy has long guided my life. It is also a core belief for my PR firm, Inkandescent Public Relations. I tell my clients, most of whom are entrepreneurs: “If we are going to write something, it must matter to the reader.”
That is especially true when it comes to writing content for websites. Here’s why—and how.
- Content-rich websites help with search-engine optimization. While Google analytics purposely change with the wind, experts agree that websites with content that is updated regularly — especially on the homepage — rank better than static, or image-heavy sites.
- Websites that feature interesting articles are more likely to be linked to by other sites, blogs, and social-media pages. Given the potential for that kind of viral marketing, why not adopt this strategy?
- Content-rich websites are more fun to read. Doctors: offer medical tips. Lawyers: tell us about the latest changes in legislation. Chefs: share a recipe or two. Give, and you shall receive — fans, followers, and increased visibility.
- Good articles intrigue your clients. They also help reporters quickly realize that you are a reliable source who has something important to say. (That’s how we have gotten them quoted in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald, MSNBC, ABC News, the CBS Early Show, Fox News, NPR, and more.
Ready to be regal?
Answer these three questions understand the reason behind our strategy. The how to tips will help you in time, your website will reign.
1. What’s interesting about that?
When my son Dylan was about 4, he was playing in the office of my husband, illustrator Michael Gibbs, watching him finish an assignment. Although Michael has been an artist for more than three decades (and has a pretty thick skin when it comes to criticism), he was floored when Dylan said, “So Daddy, what’s interesting about that?” Holding back a laugh, Michael realized the wisdom of the question—and years later we both continue to apply that “out of the mouths of babes” brilliance to everything we do. After all, if you can’t figure out “what’s interesting about that,” why do it?
- Assess your core competencies. What are you best at doing? What service do you offer that makes you the most money?
- Make a list of the five topics that you can write about and discuss with reporters.
- Turn those topics into articles, and post them on a blog, on you website, on Facebook — and as columns on other people’s blogs, and in magazines. That way, when a reporter asks, you’ll have the information at your fingertips.
2. What sets you apart from the competition?
If you have a viable business, you know what sets you apart in the marketplace. You simply need to develop a clear, concise, consistent message, and then you can shout it from the rooftops.
- Be able to explain exactly what you do — in one sentence. If your industry is really complicated, make it two sentences.
- This is now your elevator speech.
- Post it on your website — on the homepage, if possible.
- Here’s why: Reporters need to briefly describe the company. Unless you want journalists to do some creative writing, provide them with a description that you have vetted.
- Here’s an example: “If we are going to say something, it must be something that matters, something that may even make a difference in someone’s life,” insists Hope Katz Gibbs, president of Inkandescent Public Relations, a national PR, publications, marketing, and design firm with offices in Washington, DC, and Miami, FL.
3. Are you afraid to show off?
Don’t be! Too many entrepreneurs shy away from the limelight because they don’t want to brag. Know that there is a difference between being a braggart and presenting yourself as an expert in your field so that you can better market your firm. Some entrepreneurs also have a fear of talking to reporters. Fair enough, as it can be intimidating — especially if you have never been interviewed before by a professional journalist. But rather than shying away from getting into the news, understand that reporters don’t know as much about your field as you do. (Even if they do, they need an expert to confirm their theories.) So be brave — not arrogant, just confident — and fearlessly forge ahead.
- Be prepared. Write several articles, which you can publish in well-written and edited monthly newsletters that you can refer reporters to.
- Have great portraits taken. Setting up a professional photo shoot is one of the first things I do for my clients. It’s an investment that will pay off for them for years to come. I use these photos constantly to help me get them quoted in the news. After all, it’s human nature to trust someone whose picture you have seen.
- Have a fabulous website. Although this may seem obvious, I’m shocked at how many busy, confusing websites I visit each day. Your website is the first impression you’ll make on most clients and reporters. Fill it with essential information that is interesting to read, and make it as beautiful as you are.
Questions? Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Illustration (above) by Michael Gibbs, www.michaelgibbs.com
About Hope Katz Gibbs
Journalist Hope Katz Gibbs has been a newspaper and magazine reporter since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986. After studying for her master’s degree in educational leadership at The George Washington University, she launched her freelance writing business in 1993.
Hope’s articles have appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, and The Miami Herald; dozens of association, business, education, and general interest magazines; and many alumni publications, including her own alma maters, the University of Pennsylvania and The George Washington University.
She won two awards for feature writing from the Florida Magazine Association, and six others honors for newsletter writing from the National School Public Relations Association. She has been listed in Who’s Who in Media & Communications since 1989, and Who’s Who of American Women since 1993.
In 2008, Hope founded Inkandescent Public Relations, a PR / publications / media relations / marketing firm that helps small businesses get the visibility they need. Along with her award-winning team, she creates high-end marketing materials, writes and edits press releases, newsletters, and white papers, and works closely with reporters to help get the word out about her clients. Hope also plans and organizes events, co-writes and ghostwrites books, and maintains her clients’ websites so they are up-to-date and provide an accurate, impressive image.
View Hope’s journalism portfolio at www.hopegibbs.com.