While publicity offers social proof, the final outcome is understandably in the hands of the media. If you’re looking to send out a control message in a designed space or time, then advertising is the way to go.
Welcome to another installment of our PR Strategy Series, where you can learn directly from top industry experts on how you can leverage media attention to grow your business.
Today we are talking about how you can grow your PR career by highlighting parts of a conversation I had over at Authority Magazine with Meghan Ely.
Meghan Ely is the owner of OFD Consulting. A long-time industry speaker and writer, she is also a WeddingPro educator with The Knot + WeddingWire, as well as a regular contributor to a variety of industry publications. Meghan represents clients globally and has earned them coverage with the New York Times, Martha Stewart Weddings, Forbes, Fortune, and Good Morning America, among many others.
Her team’s publicity efforts are regularly honored by the Public Relations Society of America, and Special Events featured her as one of the top 25 young professionals in the event industry. She currently serves as the International President of Weddings International Professionals Association (WIPA).
Thank you so much for joining us! Before we dive in, can you tell our readers a bit about yourself and how you got started?
Funny enough, a career test in high school told me that I would be great at PR. That led to me ultimately studying public relations at James Madison University and then making the decision to explore event planning. Upon graduation, I spent a year of service with Americorps while simultaneously managing events at a local historic property. Over the next several years, I dedicated my full-time work to events, knowing I’d ultimately want to go out on my own in some capacity.
As time passed, my aspirations evolved until I knew the best path would be to launch one of the first wedding PR agencies dedicated to working exclusively with event professionals.
As a successful business leader, which character traits do you think were most instrumental in getting you to where you are today?
Twenty years spent simultaneously in hospitality has really lent to our success- we aim to serve both our clients and the media, with the goal of making the experience as seamless (and dare I say, enjoyable!) as possible. When we’re working directly with editors on articles, we take the time to better understand how they’d like the content delivered. We have extensive records of their preferences, in an effort to avoid the “one size fits all” mentality at all cost.
We are also efficiency enthusiasts, always finding better ways to streamline our processes, how we communicate and the organization of assets. It allows us to respond to the media at a moment’s notice, as well as oversee 25–30 national press requests monthly for our wedding PR membership, the OFD Collective. This especially comes in handy when wedding-related news goes mainstream. The royal wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry was particularly demanding- we once had 45 minutes to turn around a royal wedding cake inquiry that ultimately ended up in hundreds of publications.
Finally, our team is incredibly detail-oriented, which comes in handy every day of the week. With editorial requests, we’re apt to dig in a little deeper to ensure the media gets exactly what they need. Recently, we’ve had an uptick in the number of image requests, for example, and before we pursue, you typically can find us following up with the writer with specific questions about pixel size, image orientation, etc.
What 3 media strategies would you consider being most effective in generating more business for a national brand?
One of the most successful strategies that I swear by is the use of HARO (Help a Reporter Out). Essentially, HARO is a free resource where you can sign up to receive national press opportunities from a wide variety of media outlets — all straight to your email inbox. Writers will send out press opportunities for stories that they’re working on, and you’re able to submit your answers to their questions directly to them for the chance to be featured. They typically love to see detailed, thorough answers regarding the topic they’re writing about. This is a wonderful way to put your business’s name out there on a national level.
In recent years, we’ve seen just how effective influencer marketing and affiliate programs are in generating sales and prospective clients for brands everywhere. From YouTube sponsorships to Instagram swipe-ups, this media strategy can work wonders for your business if you’re willing to invest and put in the work.
Over the pandemic, I’ve personally seen brands like Olive & June take advantage of this opportunity and foster a sense of community around at-home manicures and pedicures as a result of the shutdowns. Not only was this an amazing pivot for them, but they were able to include influencers in their tutorials and ‘Mani Bootcamp’ sessions on Zoom.
If you’re looking to add more engagement and involvement with your audience, I highly recommend taking a page out of the fashion industry’s book and creating a hashtag for your business. Being stuck at home during lockdown has been a major driving force behind brands such as Zara who have taken the time to create media campaigns with the usage of hashtags. This has been incredibly popular across Instagram where they’ve encouraged customers to take photos of themselves in their favorite Zara clothing. It’s a win-win for both consumers and the brand itself!
The Getty Museum was also instrumental in a similar homegrown campaign, where they asked users to get creative by recreating their favorite art pieces with items found in their homes.
Great advice. One more before we go: If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I’m passionate about many things- climate change, animal rights, and education in particular. These days, I’m particularly focused on the safe re-opening of events, when the right time comes. My hope is to connect wedding and event professionals with the right tools to advocate properly for themselves at the local and state level.
Thank you for sharing so many insights with us!