We have been reaching out to notable communications professionals to ask them a few questions about their experiences and interests, with the goal of providing some insights to others in the industry. For the April edition of ‘Questions for the PR Industry’ we chatted with Krystal Covington, Director of PR at Natural Grocers and Founder and CEO of Women of Denver. Krystal is an expert in the art of influence, and personal branding. She has led the launch of multi-million dollar projects and worked directly with CEOs of small and large businesses. She is also a TEDx presenter, national speaker and trainer.
Why do you work in PR?
I’d love to say that my career was 100% intentional, so that others who want to follow my footsteps could have a solid path, but that’s simply not the case.
I followed what I was drawn to and it led me to where I am today. When I finished my undergraduate program with a degree in psychology I already knew I had lost passion for being an actual practitioner, so I had to go out and figure out a new career path.
I initially thought I’d be an office manager or work with a financial team, but I kept getting pulled into marketing and sales roles and really blowing it out of the water. When you’re good at something it starts to stick with you even if you keep pushing it away.
I used to think of PR as a bit of a magic trick I could do because I had working knowledge of how the news media works. My husband went to school for broadcasting and we worked on the team for the university TV network. Then my husband went on to work professionally as a radio host while others in my direct circle went to work for local TV news, national media and one even landed a job in production for Oprah.
In the past PR was just one of the many things I contributed to the companies I supported, but last year for the first time I was asked to support a company mainly through PR. Since taking on the opportunity I’ve really enjoyed stretching my muscles in this arena. I tend to gamify my work to make the day to day business more fun, so I look at each feature as a badge and celebrate each time I land a quality mention.
What PR initiative that you’ve done are you most proud of?
My favorite PR initiative was a full-blown sweepstakes. It was called “The Detroit Spirit Home Giveaway,” a philanthropic program where we gave a renovated Detroit home to a local hero.
This was a huge project for me that challenged my leadership capabilities, project management and sales skills. I had to find and purchase the home, develop and run the contest, solicit donations for the renovations and coordinate the legal aspects of the sweepstakes.
What was great about the program is that we were able to coordinate with a local radio show host who helped us promote the contest and choose the winner from our list of finalists. The radio host also had connections with TV, so he was able to help us coordinate really amazing TV coverage for the program. The PR results were amazing and we were able to really engage with the community through the contest.
How do you put together a pitch?
The best way to connect with someone with a platform is to understand their communication style and who their audience really is. That’s why developing a pitch starts with researching the journalist or influencer to find out who they are, what they write about most, and if they have a style I can pick up on easily.
If they’re active on Twitter I may add that person to a list that I’m monitoring and find ways to interact with them and start real life conversations. Social media networking is an excellent way to build relationships that feel like an honest exchange of friends. Those online friendships can become a great way to create a warm entry when you email them. A few minutes of connection on Twitter or Facebook can be the difference between a cold email that gets ignored and one that gets opened.
The other important thing I like to consider is what the journalist or influencer wants for their audience. If you can imagine yourself in their shoes and anticipate the intention they have for their audience you’ll be more likely to land the perfect pitch. For example, I get asked a lot how I’ve landed opportunities on podcasts and the answer I always give people is that I only pitch podcasts I’ve listened to (at least 4 episodes is a good rule of thumb). I then consider what I have to offer and how it might make an impact for the listeners of the show and focus my pitch around that impactful story and how it can be transformational to the audience.
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