Ask a seasoned public relations professional/communications expert, like myself, whether to self promote and most of us will say, “No, not if you can help it!” Hire an outside consultant, or have a designated staffer, because it’s a tough job to promote oneself. Not only is it difficult, but it won’t be as professional or successful as it could be.
Since the 1980’s I have promoted world leaders, businesses, non profits, environmentalists, peace makers, nuclear weapons abolitionists, civil rights leaders, women’s advocates, authors, and celebrities representing issues worth publicizing. As an outside consultant, I could present an unbiased view, and could handle a “N0.” Or several. I could keep reaching out and turning a “No” into a “YES.”
Representing yourself (your issue, your business) and handling a “No” is a lot more difficult than for a professional outsider. For both you and whoever you are speaking with. Turning “No” into a “YES” can be downright uncomfortable, for both sides. To a large extent it is a game of numbers so being determined and continuing on despite the response is necessary. And it’s also a lot easier when it’s not YOU they are rejecting.
As an outsider, there is also the component of being able to look at the issue or topic from an outside perspective. When you are representing yourself or your idea/business/product you may be seeing things in a narrow view. Not as others might see it, or see you.
I cannot tell you the number of times I have worked with a client, listened to his/her pitch and knew instantly why positive responses were limited. You can be so steeped in your own perspective you cannot see the flaws of the pitch. Because it’s not really about you. It’s about what YOU can do for someone else. WIIFM? (What’s In It For Me?) Me meaning — another person, community, audience.
Understanding how to communicate a message in a way that someone else will care is a special talent. Somehow I knew exactly how to do that from the first time I tried. In fact, I was a receptionist/assistant in an advocacy communications firm and was given a press list to make some calls. I actually didn’t know what I was doing. But I read the press release, the background materials and just started picking up the phone and calling reporters and producers.
A few days later my press conference was held. Many reporters showed up and even the producer of Nightline attended. My boss asked me what in the world I told the Nightline Producer to get him to show up. He had never before attended a press conference organized by our firm. What is obvious to me now is this:
1) I was very passionate about the topic,
2) I was straight and to the point,
3) I understood the perspective of their clients (audience), and,
4) I didn’t take no for an answer.
I was promoted to publicity director and never looked back at the switchboard.
I went on to pitch stories to the most highly respected journalists in Washington, D.C., to include the White House Press Corps. I was too young and naive to be intimidated. And, as I said, I was passionate and determined. I also honestly respected journalists; after all, my mother was one. (One of the first women editors in the country). My father, a marketer. I was a great by-product of the two!
So if you’re having trouble crafting your message about your product, cause, business or idea, you might consider hiring an outside consultant. (Like myself! Here’s me pitching me!)
Actually pitching myself is pretty difficult. Although my resume is quite impressive there are people who have known me for decades and have no idea what I’ve accomplished. I’m not a horn-tooter. But, I’m a great promoter of others. In fact, when I published a children’s book last year I did little promotion! I’m in the process of getting someone else to do it for me. Yes, I sold books, but I didn’t do what I would do for someone else.
As I said, it’s uncomfortable to promote yourself or your product. It’s also not the greatest business strategy. Better to hire someone who knows their stuff, a seasoned communications professional, a good strategist, a person with media savvy. Like me. Or someone like me. Click here for my (impressive) Linked In resume.
If you’d like a consult, feel free to contact me on this page through my email link.
And since I don’t speak for myself well, here’s a recommendation from one of my clients, General Lee Butler, the Former Commander in charge of the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal (USAF, Ret.)
“(re: Barbara Webber) Her wise counsel and extraordinary range of expertise were absolutely essential to both the setting and the stage of exploiting the stunning success of the public presentation of the campaign objective… She has earned my respect and admiration, as well as my unqualified endorsement as an expert of the highest caliber.”
Yes. What he said. I definitely could not have said it better myself.