When we are approached about our Christian PR services by a potential new faith-based market client, we often try to convince them to push pause on seeking publicity. PR is a powerful marketing tool, too powerful if you are not yet ready to engage it. Every product and service will need publicity, that’s true, but there are a few things that need to be in place before you can effectively begin a successful publicity campaign in the faith market. Here are three questions any Christian publicist wants you to answer before you are ready to approach Christian media:
What is your message and why do you do what you do?
If you don’t know what makes you and your company special, it will be hard to pitch you to Christian media. There are a lot of great ideas out there, but people who know how to articulate their story, their passions, and their purpose are the ones who make for interesting conversations. An easy start is to just ask a few simple questions:
- Why would a media outlet want to interview me or my spokesperson?
- What makes us special?
- What is our purpose?
What is your timeline? Is your product in PERFECT pitching shape?
It’s great to get the word out about upcoming projects, but when a Christian journalist or a faith-based media outlet agrees to do an interview, you need to have everything in order so your publicist can say yes to the booking! This may seem like common sense, but people often sign on a publicity team too soon and then get frustrated with a lack of results. For example, we had a client sign on for services, but as we dug more deeply into their web site, we discovered that some of the core pieces were not yet working correctly. We had to stop pitching because the site was not fully ready as we were led to believe. If you are building a web-based service, make sure you’ve beta-tested before getting the kind of large exposure that a seasoned PR firm will deliver. Have your friends sign up and try to break your website. Have a solid, rough cut of your film. Get solid endorsements. Have a few of your strongest songs mixed and mastered. Be ready with a prototype, samples, and graphics. You probably will only get one shot to pitch most media outlets – make sure your product or service is in perfect shape and ready before the pitching begins!
Is your product releasing in a time-frame that makes media sense?
As faith-based PR experts, we view our work as foot washing. Media people work on different schedules. Does your product match their media timelines? They are not there to serve your timeline. If you want media coverage, you are there to serve THEIR timeline. If you have a new book that is a great match for talk radio – but you release the book the week before an election, it’s going to be hard to find shows that have the time to talk to you. Magazines work months in advance. Don’t expect to show up in an industry trade magazine or a consumer magazine without at least 3-6 months lead time! If your album comes out in September, you need to have that music in hand ready to be reviewed by a print magazine at least 3 or 4 months in advance. Websites can often post news quickly, but a large radio show might book their guests a month or more ahead of their air-time. Are you ready to fly yourself to the nearest television studio to be interviewed on Daystar or TBN? Put yourself in the shoes of a media person and consider your strategy through their eyes.
A Tip: Practice Practice Practice.
Even if you know your message, you should practice interviewing. Have good friends ask you tough questions. Write out or videotape your answers. Be confident in your own story and your own message. Then a publicist can help you hone that message, highlight key aspects of your story, and strategize best ways to make sure your story is told well. One of our favorite suggestions is to have a potential client pick out a few media outlets that they believe are a great fit to cover their service. Then, they need to tell us why they chose that outlet, what the discussion would be, and what information the host would need to know to do a great interview.
To hear our review of your readiness for a Christian publicity campaign, or for more information about our PR services, please Contact Us.