What I Learned About PR From Being an Over-Involved Mother

It’s been a whirlwind summer.

As I have been telling everyone, my son graduated from college, was commissioned as a Naval Officer and got married all within 2 weeks this past June. On top of that, the girl he married is our designer Monica.

Monica started out as our intern and ended up as my daughter-in-law. I am a full service employer.

I may be biased, but c’mon, that’s a great story! So I pitched it to the weddings section of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Yes, I’m that mom. And it got picked up.

I tell you this because to be honest, PR is not my personal strength. Or I didn’t think it was.

I’ve written a ton of press releases following a formula. Some get placed and I cheer my success, most get lost. When we need PR for clients, I’m not the one to do it (don’t worry).

And now I know what I have been doing was all wrong. But when I submitted a pitch on behalf of my son I had no doubt the story would get printed.

How did I know? Here are three things I did differently:
  1. Familiarity. I am a sucker for the Love column and read it every week. I knew the style and the history of what the writer covers. I noted the author likes variety and diversity so I mentioned she had not covered a military wedding lately. That showed I knew her work and how their story would bring something new.
  2. Make it easy to imagine. I wrote the pitch in the same order as her column and tried to mimic the style. My goal was to have her imagine the piece written.
  3. Tell a story. I’m Gen X so I am wired to be formal and business-like, separating my personal and professional worlds. (It’s even hard for me to use this story as an example). But when I emailed the reporter, I was sharing my joy in these kids and it came through in a way I never capture in my business attempts at PR.

Based on what prize-winning writer and journalist Amy Vernon shared with me recently, I am on the right track. Amy wrote a great article that talks about building a relationship with reporters by being a resource and helping them find what they need.

Sound familiar? Relationships. Helping. Emotion. Speaking audience language.

Switching to a storytelling mindset changes everything.

In this case, it created a connection that got the reporter to call. In others its the thing that inspires a donation, nabs a volunteer or intrigues your next hire.

So now I am off to read the stack of publications and the blog feeds that have piled up and get to know the folks who cover the topics I care about.

How about you? Have you had a PR success? I’d love to know what’s working for you.