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Grow Your Business Sales & Marketing

Six Questions for…Jenny Finke, PR Expert


Jenny Finke is the founder of the U.S. branch of Handle Your Own PR and a longtime media and public relations strategist for her own PR firm, Red Jeweled Media. She has more than a decade of experience in PR, marketing and writing and specializes in working with small businesses.

She tells BusinessNewsDaily about how small businesses can manage their own PR and what it’s like to juggle CBS News and her two kids.

BusinessNewsDaily: What is the most important thing a company should do BEFORE they start doing their own PR?

Jenny Finke: Before doing PR, it's important that a company gets itself in order first. They need a good website — after all, you don't want people to find you only to be disappointed by how unprofessional your company looks in cyberspace. You want to have good pictures of your product available, as well as a few press materials in order. Most of all, you want to have a good story to tell that is personalized, relevant and interesting. And of course, you want to have a media list that is targeted and up-to-date so you can pitch your story to the right people.

BND: What's the biggest mistake you find companies making in terms of their PR?

J.F.: The biggest mistake, hands down, is spamming reporters with uninteresting press releases. Reporters aren't interested in writing about your new product launch. They are interested in the story behind the product. Press releases just don't get read these days. Good stories come from good pitches that are tailored to each reporter's interests.

BND: What's the trend right now in terms for what kinds of stories publications are looking for?

J.F.: This is a good question. The hot story now is anything that can save families money. We are living in tough times and people are learning to do more with less. If you have a money-saving hook, you just might get some press!

BND: Do small businesses need to act like big businesses to get press?

J.F.: No. Small businesses should be authentic to who they are. That is part of what makes small businesses so unique and fun for reporters to write about. Reporters often shy away from using sources from big businesses, especially those that are heavily regulated. There's just too much bureaucracy. With small businesses, they can cut to the chase, speak with the CEO /founder, and get a fun story. It's a win-win for all!

BND: What's more effective for driving business — print pubs or blogs, social media, etc.?

J.F.: It all has to magically work together. I encourage companies to hold true to traditional PR, but incorporate lots of new media aspects as well. Developing personal connections and relationships directly with consumers is easy to do today through social media , but all of it takes time and resources. Find a good balance and focus on doing a few things well rather than everything poorly. I strongly urge companies to make their traditional PR and new media PR efforts work together — that is the true formula for success. A client of mine wrote a (bylined story) for Forbes.com, one that I secured and helped him write. After it published, he had his SEO firm work its magic. The story became the lead story on Digg.com for the day, and my client was invited back for another article due to the high traffic interest in the story. It all came together nicely!

BND: Have your kids ever ruined a PR pitch?

J.F.: When my kids get home from school, they are loud and want to play, understandably. But there was one time I saw an urgent call come through from “CBS Evening News.” I had to take the call. My kids were so loud and I had to put the producer on hold to "yell" at my kids. It can be difficult to juggle it all — but most people understand and are used to kids in the background these days. Flexible working arrangements are the new norm.

Jenny Finke is the U.S. founder of HandleYourOwnPR.com, a media list provider, and founder of Red Jeweled Media, a full-service PR agency specializing in working with small businesses and entrepreneurs.


Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.