Today I’m going to show you exactly how I got free PR on national radio for a client within 12 hours of trying, which resulted in more daily traffic to his website than ever before.
I’m talking coverage that money cannot buy, and it came from the most unlikely of sources.
I’m also going to break down exactly how I did it so that you can replicate the process to get effective free PR for your business.
WARNING: If you’re easily embarrassed or offended you should probably stop reading here. Don’t read on. Go and look at pictures of fluffy kittens or something instead because you may be outraged by what you’re about to hear!
Ok. Now that the faint-hearted have gone to look at clouds and kittens, I can get on with talking about male ‘difficulties’ in the downstairs department. Say what? Yup, it’s the secret to the best free PR my client’s boating equipment business has ever gotten and the reason I was on national radio bringing shame upon my family! I told you it was unexpected.
Let me explain.
Here’s The Beef
I was working closely with a client who runs a boating equipment ecommerce website (and who also happens to be my brother – if you’re going to delve into the sex accessory market, it’s best to keep it in the family, am I right?). I was pulling some info out of his Google Analytics account one day when I spotted an unusual source of sales.
I had previously noticed a steady trickle of traffic coming through from a certain German website but always just ignored it, assuming it was a spam site. On this particular day however, I realised that we were actually getting steady orders from people clicking through from this site, so I decided to do a little digging…
I won’t reveal the name of the site (their users are good customers to this day!) but I checked it out, with the help of Google Translate, only to discover that it is – for real – a forum about ‘manhood enhancement’ and all it entails.
What were these guys buying from a boating equipment website?! They were all buying the exact same thing – and had been doing so consistently for over a year – it was none other than the humble ‘Sea Clamp’, a reusable cable tie. I know, right?!
What’s that? You want to see the Sea Clamp? Of course you do, you’re only human. Here you go (hurry back though, the best is yet to come): click here to see the Sea Clamp.
Let’s Turn This Into Free PR
So I told my brother what kind of business he was really in and after the hysterical laughter tailed off our thoughts turned to PR. He had been listening to Today FM, one of Ireland’s leading national radio stations, and as it was December, they were doing a daily feature about Christmas gift ideas. Now it just so happened that we had discovered the perfect gift for him, for her – so the plan was hatched.
It was 6pm on a Thursday. At 11pm that night I wrote an email to the Ray D’Arcy show on Today FM and sent it via the contact form on their website. Before 11am the next morning, less than 12 hours after writing the email, I was live on the air for over 5 minutes talking about the Sea Clamp saga and the problems men face in the bedroom!
My Childhood Hero
I must add that Ray D’Arcy was a kids tv presenter in his early days and one of my childhood heroes. I’d watch him on The Den every day after school as a child. My previous ‘personal experience’ with him was when he wished my brother happy 9th birthday and showed the photo of ourselves we’d sent into the show.
Now that 9 year old boy was unknowingly selling sex aids to Germans and I was discussing the gory details infront of the nation with my childhood hero. You never know what life has in store for you!
You can listen to the interview here (the last minute or so was cut off but you get the picture):
Pleased as I was to have a good story to tell in the pub that evening, what I really wanted was to see some results in terms of website traffic. And I was not disappointed.
As a result of my radio appearance, the site had more daily visitors than ever before – and bear in mind the nature of the business, it is a boating equipment online store, so December is when traffic is normally at its lowest.
There is a reason that we were able to generate so many hits from this PR – keep reading, I’m going to break down all the tactics I used so you can replicate the process for your business.
And get this – we also saw increased sales of Sea Clamps in Ireland following the radio coverage!
Here’s How You Can Get Free PR For Your Business
This story is a fun example of how you can get national PR for free and we all had a good laugh in the process but there are some real lessons to be learned that can result in increased exposure and sales for your business. So what are the key things I did to ensure results? Let me break it down for you.
1. Write The Story For Them
When I was emailing the radio show I knew that they would be short on time and under pressure to find good stories that interest their audience to fill their schedule. So I knew it was key to use my email not just to intrigue and interest them, but also to make it as easy as possible for them to convert it into something that they can bring to their audience.
As a result I put a lot of thought into my email – I didn’t give them dry facts and leave them with the job of structuring it into a story that would interest their listeners. Instead I looked at it from their point of view and wrote the story that would appeal to their listeners. I think the fact that Ray D’Arcy started the segment by reading out my email shows that I did a pretty good job.
Whenever you are contacting the press remember that they are pushed for time and have deadlines to meet so do their job for them, give them the story that appeals to their audience. That means the story comes first, you come second.
This does two things: it means that the journalist doesn’t have to do any mental work to figure out how they could position the information you’re giving them, you’ve spoon-fed them the story; and secondly, it means that it’s quicker and easier for the journalist to use your story than one that hasn’t been presented in a way that immediately appeals to their audience, and time is a crucial factor for the press.
You can model the email I wrote to get free PR for your business:
I’m a big fan of the show, I listen every morning in work. I work for an online boating equipment and watersports store based in Derry.
I’ve been enjoying all the christmas gift suggestions on the show over the last few days and I thought I’d let you know about a funny use for one of the more mundane gifts on our web store.
Part of my job is to look at our website traffic and see where the orders are coming from. Imagine my surprise the other week when I spotted a steady stream of orders coming in from men clicking through from a German forum about… ‘manhood enhancement’ shall we say. What on earth are they buying from a boating store I thought?! So I clicked on the product page, only to discover why the humble ‘Sea Clamp’, a reusable cable tie, is one of our best sellers!
[link to Sea Clamp page on the website]
We’ve only just realised but the orders have been coming in steady for over a year from this forum – there was a nationwide shortage of Sea Clamps earlier in the year and after the supplier recently announced they were no longer going to stock them we bought up the entire available stock because they had been selling so well for us! Now we know why!
It seems to me that the Sea Clamp is the ideal Christmas present – a gift for him, for her if you will! The Irish men might be a bit shy about it but maybe it’s time they took a leaf out of the Germans’ book!
We also sell a complete range of wetsuits and watersports equipment, Musto sailing clothing, boating gadgets, electronics and more! All online at GulfStreamShop.com with free shipping available throughout Ireland.
It’s a lot easier to get free press coverage if you can make your story topical and relevant to what is going on right now. We made the Sea Clamp story topical by framing it as a Christmas gift idea. There is nothing inherent to the Sea Clamp saga that makes it relevant to the Christmas gift feature on Today FM but if you tell your story in the right way you can tie it in to almost anything!
One short sentence before telling the story (“I thought I’d let you know about a funny use for one of the more mundane gifts on our web store”) and one short sentence at the end of the story (“It seems to me that the Sea Clamp is the ideal Christmas present – a gift for him, for her if you will!”) was all it took.
If you can frame your story in a way that allows you to enter the conversation that is already going on, then you have a much higher chance of being covered.
3. Tease The Audience
Getting press coverage is one thing. Being able to turn it into traffic, leads and sales is another.
My radio slot could easily have generated tens rather than hundreds of visits to the website, had it not been for one thing – I gave people a reason to go on the website. If you give people a reason to visit your website, they will. If you don’t, they won’t. It’s that simple.
So how did I do it?
I gave them almost all the information on the radio but for the final piece of the puzzle they had to go to the website. It’s cut off the audio above, but before the end of the radio segment I told the audience that I had put the Sea Clamp on the home page of the website, “so if you want to see a picture of it, just go to the website now”.
I knew from telling some friends the Sea Clamp story that the burning question everyone asked was “What does it look like? Can you show me a picture?”. So I knew that this is what would get people on the site.
You can do the same thing by figuring out the burning question people have when they hear your story – instead of giving them the answer or solution in the story, just tease them and have them go to your website to see something, watch something, or download something. This allows you to get people on your site and then get them on your mailing list.
Ideally you should send people to your website for a specific gift or offer that they have to opt-in to your email list to receive. This way you can capture as many leads as possible.
4. Have A Marketing Mindset
You probably have a handful of newsworthy things happen with your business every year, but you might not be looking out for them.
I easily could have discovered the source of the Sea Clamp sales, had a laugh about it with my brother and moved on, but we had a marketing mindset which led to the question “how can we use this?”.
You should always be aware of any free PR opportunities for your business. You’d be surprised how easy it can be sometimes. There are lots of minutes of airtime and lots of column inches to be filled and journalists are always on the look out for stories. Your competitors likely think “I could never get covered in the press” so they won’t even try. That leaves the door wide open for you!
You don’t necessarily have to go for nationwide press, you might have a story that is of interest to the local media or industry specific press.
What You Should Do Next
Set yourself a goal of creating one newsworthy story related to your business in the next 2 weeks. If we can rely on anything, it’s that running a business is never dull so every business owner has an interesting story to tell. Don’t take yourself too seriously, just bounce some ideas around, write something, be bold and make contact with the press.
And start to cultivate a marketing mindset so that when an opportunity presents itself you are ready to pounce on it.
Already have an idea for a story related to your business? Why don’t you run it by me – leave a comment below.
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