There are few public figures more associated with jaw dropping frankness than entrepreneur and author Peter Shankman. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Peter speak on a variety of topics including ADHD, one that he surprisingly champions as a gift not a curse. Having founded and sold three companies including HARO (Help A Reporter Out), Peter knows a thing or twenty about cutting through to get a brand’s story not just heard but also embraced. Here then are some of the highlights of my recent podcast interview with Peter on Renegade Thinkers Unite.
Do you have some broad strokes advice for marketers in 2018?
Peter: The first piece of advice is just to listen. We spend a lot of time in this world listening, but by listening I mean we’re waiting for people to shut up, so we can start talking and that’s a mistake. If I’m on a plane next to you and flying somewhere and you’re saying you’re my seatmate unless you fake your own death, I’m going to know everything about you by the time we land. Because if I have that knowledge and information about you, that’s valuable to me and I can use that to gain knowledge of how I can help you. “Oh, you do this for a living? I should put you together with this person.” Or whatever the case may be. I’d say the second rule is it’s 2018 for God’s sake – stop chasing the likes. Let’s start doing more likable things.
What is the biggest mistake that marketers typically make with PR?
Peter: I think the biggest mistake they make in PR is assuming that just because a story is interesting to them, that it’s interesting to everyone else. And that’s the furthest thing from the truth. No one cares if you painted your conference room red. Why is this story interesting not only to me but why is the story interesting to the industry? Why is it interesting to the world? Why would the world want to know about it? Why does the reporter put his reputation or her business on the line to share it with their world? So, is it more of a story than just about you or your business? I think even to this day I don’t think enough PR people realize that it has to be a bigger picture than that.
How should brands find relevant big stories?
Peter: Where is the connection? I think the bigger story is what’s going on in your industry? If you make widgets, what’s going on in the widget industry? If it is blockchain affecting the widgets – everyone wants to talk about blockchain. If you can figure out how the industry is being affected by blockchain, you could be the voice of that, and that is a huge story. Where is the story connected to your brand? How do you tell that story? This is for anyone. This is not just about blockchain widgets and the fact of the matter is that there’s constantly stuff going on. Name your product, and I’ll figure out a way to tie it in. Whatever it is that you make, there’s a way to relate it to what’s going on today in the world of politics and the world – the world we live in financially, economically, and socially. You have to be blind not to figure out ways to tie it into your business.
How can marketers get social media followers to see and interact with organic posts?
Peter: The way that the Facebook and Instagram and all those platforms work is it’s almost like a wave cycle. If you post something that interests a bunch of people, Facebook will show more organically if people continue to justify it. It will show more organically. You can do a lot more with organic again if you know your audience. I know my audience is everything from business people to entrepreneurs. What do I also know about them? If they follow me, they have some sense of humor because let’s face it I’m not your most stoic calm and rational person, so I know they have some level of tolerance as a human. I know what my audience likes, and I know what they want. I know this, and I know if I start posting things about Trump, I’m going to get nowhere near as much engagement because A: my listeners and my audience gets that from other places and B: that’s not