I’ve been wanting change in my hometown. So, I pitched the press my plight, changed what neighbors were talking about and the good news is: I have a tangible change to report! The rezoning meeting originally scheduled for Thursday, June 18th in my hometown has been delayed to August 20th! Hooray! Let’s unpack what happened to illustrate how you too can use PR to be your megaphone to manifest change.
As you know, since June 1st I’ve been channeling Erin Brockovich this month while we’ve worked the #21DayPRActionGuide challenge together with our friends from PitchRate.com. There, you can download my book, “21 Day PR Action Guide: The Who, What, When and Where To Launch a Successful PR Campaign” for free during the pandemic. No cost, no opt-in. I have been referring to it during our Friday PR coaching calls at 1 pm, which are also no charge to you, my friends. To get caught up on the problem I’m solving with press coverage in my own life, I have one 12 minute radio interview to share with you. I’ll refer to it in this blog and on Friday, June 19th’s call. You can listen to Wednesday, June 17th radio interview on my local morning show, “Breakfast Club” on WTZQ in this blog. The host, Mark, was delighted to learn you’d be listening in as well so he sent me a link just for you. Here it is.
How do you think I prepared for this interview? I only had 24 hours. I’ll get to that in this blog and discuss it more on Friday the 19th’s call. Register in advance for that call here.
This WTZQ interview above catches you up on the asphalt plant applying to rezone the property 1100 feet from my Smoky Mountain farm I’ve had for sixteen years. We united 2692 rural neighbors since June 1st through, “Friends of East Flat Rock” website, Facebook group and a Change.org petition. I’ve been sharing with those in the 21-day challenge how I’ve scored PR coverage. If you’re just now joining us, it’s still not too late for June. Plus, I’ve had so much fun doing this challenge with folks, I think I might repeat it July 1st through July 21st. Until then, let’s complete June’s challenge powerfully by covering what to do and what not to do in follow-up, interview prep, and soundbite delivery.
By the way, if you missed last Friday’s June 12th call, here’s the recording. 💡
Last week, I provided publicists and PR DIYers hands-on coaching, covering these pitching tips, and more:
- The perfect media pitch formula. ▶️ [22:20]
- What exactly to say in your pitch. ▶️ [33:10]
- The difference between a press release and a pitch. ▶️ [35:38]
- How to pitch a sensitive topic. ▶️ [50:05]
If you missed June 5th’s call, here’s the blog where I showcase it. 💡
Feeling caught up now? Good!
PRESS FOLLOW-UP, INTERVIEW PREP and SOUNDBITE DELIVERY 💡
WTZQ’s host, Mark, called me Tuesday and referenced a social media post I had made tagging his station. “Hi Michelle, I not only got your media alerts, but I’ve also been talking about your group, Friends of East Flat Rock, every week. Can you be in an interview live with us in the morning?”
THE FOLLOW-UP 💡
See the post was in the Facebook group where a member, Pat, tagged me and said, “Have you called WTZQ yet to let them know about the asphalt plant rezoning?” Of course, I replied and posted the exact dates I had sent Mark an alert, tagging her and the station back. A few days after that, I called Mark, left him a voicemail, and then tagged the post again saying, “Just left Mark a voicemail, Pat.” There are a few things to unpack here:
- I never made the station wrong. I just stated the facts. ✔️
- I was demonstrating to his fan, I had been in communication and tagged him in a group with close to 3000 of the listeners in his geographic reach — they happen to be my neighbors newly united against the rezoning. ✔️
- I was friendly in both my posts and especially in my voicemail, letting Mark know I was available any time to serve his needs informing the public. ✔️
INTERVIEW PREP 💡
You might think I’m ready to go for an interview. In truth, everyone needs a sounding board. I immediately called our lawyer and asked him 3 key points to make that coincide with the legal strategy he had created for us. Then I asked him to help me practice by playing the role of the press. I’m a quick study. Since lawyers are just as expensive as a publicist (LOL), I made sure this whole process was less than a half-hour. You can see the results in the interview.
SOUNDBITE DELIVERY 💡
Three is a magic number they say. I’d have to agree. The soundbites on the asphalt plant campaign are:
- A pandemic is not a time to rezone a community. It’s unfair. ✋
- The elderly, mobile home park residents and Latino are further marginalized in our county because all meetings are digital. ✋
- Rezoning is not the right choice for the community long-term. ✋
I have been breaking these into three one-word memory anchors for myself. So I can easily check off in my head if I’ve delivered the narrative the legal team needs.
- Pandemic ⚡
- Marginalized ⚡
- Long-term ⚡
You’ll hear these peppered into the stories I share throughout the 12 minutes. As the legal defense gets solidified, the lawyer will dictate what the spokesperson (me, for now) says, not what I “want” to say. That should be the case in every interview. Think of the end-game first before crafting soundbites. What call-to-action do you want? Have your soundbites deliver that for you. In my unforeseen PR case to share with you in this #21DayPRActionGuide challenge, it’s more members to oppose the asphalt plant.
So what will you be doing in your follow-up? 💭
With whom will you practice your interview and create your soundbites? 💭
What will be your three anchors? 💭
Come to Friday’s call so you can practice these. I look forward to coaching you through this!
📢 NEXT ZOOM CALL: Join me this Friday, June 19 @ 1 PM EDT to learn how to prepare for your media interview.