I spent many years building a business. And then one day, I realised I was a bit fed up.
We'd been doing really well, confidence was high, and the team were pushing the envelope of what was possible every day.
But when I was out and about, nobody had ever heard of us.
I'd explain what we did, how we operated, then offer up a few examples of our success.
"Oh wow, YOU made that? That was amazing!!" they would reply.
It felt like our business was a magical, mysterious secret. That was nice, but it didn't serve a useful purpose.
I'd hoped that journalists would figure out who was behind a string of great hits. And they'd come along, begging me for an interview.
Or that people would start bestowing shiny awards upon us for our hard work and success.
However, I've since learnt that the world doesn't work like that.
- To win coverage, you have to pitch as many great stories as you can.
- To win awards, you have to enter as many categories as you can.
- And to develop a great brand, you need to do both of these things for a long time, whilst consistently delivering a brilliant product.
None of this came particularly naturally to me.
In fact, as a Brit, you're often expected to downplay your success, and to be modest about gaining notoriety.
But at a certain point, it became obvious that the lack of name recognition was a barrier to growth. We had to take action.
So, I hired a brilliant PR company and worked hard with them to develop a long-term plan to transform the fortunes of our company.
And guess what? It worked.
In mapping out the story we wanted to tell the world, we actually figured out our company's future strategy. It was transformational.
By dreaming up the headlines we'd love to see published, we were able to devise goals for our business.
Amazon uses a future press release approach to aid their new product launches. This is a brilliant tactic that I would encourage you to use.
Many businesses and governments are now spending millions asking science fiction writers to help them imagine their future successes.
And creating high-impact events to focus awareness on your brand, launch or purpose is something that has worked for decades - most notably in these remarkable publicity stunts.
Here's my 8-step process which will deliver your outcomes:
- Decide what you are the world's best at. You must be the best at something. Ask others what they think you are world-class at. Then make this the foundation of your story.
- Retain an excellent PR company. If they are as good as our one was, you will get a wonderful return on your investment. Speak to several potential experts in your field before choosing the best one for you.
- Figure out your objective, strategy and tactics together. What's your happy ever after? Telling your story requires a proper set of measurable goals. These need to be set out, written down, assigned and successfully delivered.
- Create remarkable moments, regularly. What get you noticed? Exceptional things. Unusual events. Great wins, provocative announcements, brilliant new ideas and products, inspiring initiatives. Make something newsworthy happen once a month, and do something huge that makes you nervous once every quarter.
- Embrace social media. By taking part in the conversations, sharing your accomplishments, supporting causes that are a good fit and gifting regular insights and entertainment to your audience, you are already ensuring that people who are aware of your brand are getting regular, positive updates.
- Enter as many awards as you can. The awards game is a volume and persistence business. Allocate an annual budget for awards entry and attendance fees, learn to deliver great entry materials, accept invites to be a judge so you understand the process, and then keep going. You probably won't win one for a while, but once you do, tell the whole world again and again.
- Celebrate everything until further notice. The world loves good news, and success is intoxicating. It's really important to celebrate all your wins, even the small ones. This will ensure your brand becomes aspirational.
- Consistently deliver your self-fulfilling, always-on publicity machine. This approach can feel tough at the start. It will likely take you a few quarters of hard work before you start to feel the benefits; more work, more awareness, more name recognition, better recruitment outcomes, interesting incoming partnership opportunities, regular confidence boosts for the team and the rest. But if you're building something valuable, people will fall in love with it. Just keep going, keep listening and course correcting.
Most people subconsciously equate lots of press and awards for creative and commercial success. They are not necessarily connected.
You can drive lots of publicity and recognition whether or not you are the very best in the world. But it does help to be growing and improving what you do all the time, otherwise, you run the risk of losing the confidence of journalists and awards judges.
But the main thing to do is to dream big - imagine your brand name in huge headlines you'd love to see, and then work hard for the long term to ensure those stories come true.
And you'll know when it's worked. That's when the great stories and lovely awards start to arrive without all your hard work!