Billions of Buzzing Cicadas? Could Be Great for your PR Buzz!

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They’re down there. Right below our feet. The Rip Van Winkle of the insect world, cicadas, numbering in the billions, are about to hatch after a 17 year snooze. The East Coast is bracing itself for what’s being labeled “Swarmageddon.”

What in the world can billions of insects have to do with your PR? For some of you, quite a lot, actually.

National news outlets like Mashable and FoxNews.com are buzzing with reports about the imminent arrival of the reclusive cicada. Many are looking for experts to interview. Others want to interview local business owners about how cicadas outnumbering humans 600-to-1 may impact their business – either positively or negatively.

The result is that most media outlets – TV, print, blogs and radio – will be reporting on the economic impact of this pesky critter throughout the summer.

That can translate into BIG PR opportunities for small business owners like you.

For those of you not too proud to ride the PR coattails (or wings) of an insect, here is what you should do immediately:

  1. Scan the media: start looking at what media are talking about cicadas. Pay close attention to local news media, as they are your best chance of getting news coverage. Be sure to note the names of reporters so you can reach out to them when the time is right.
  2. Angle: figure out how your business most closely relates to the story. Are you an restaurant with outdoor seating, pest control specialist, or tour company? Maybe you’re planning to hold a special Cicada Tour for science tourists who may want to come from around the world to see this rare event.
  3. Facts: be willing to share facts about your plans to deal with green-winged menace. Are you offering discounts to lure tourists worried about the swarms? Do you plan to hire extra employees to clean your Bed & Breakfast veranda and walking paths? What is the cost impact, or the incremental revenue opportunity? Be precise, honest and forthcoming.
  4. Photo Op: don’t be afraid to take a few pictures and videos of how you’re coping with the icky creatures. One thing media outlets like is when a picture tells a story that will interest an audience. It makes their job of selling a story that much easier.
  5. One-Two Punch: Most media professionals I know from my three years of running PR over Coffee say they prefer to be contacted by email. So start with an email that follows the KISS principle: Keep it Simple Stupid! Come up with an eye-catching (but not hokey) subject line, then briefly sum up the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHY and HOW. Tell the reporter you will call in 24 hours and then don’t forget to call. On the phone, be concise and courteous. It will go a long way toward winning some great PR!
  6. Follow-up: you may not connect with a reporter right away. Keep trying. They may seem aloof and uninterested but more often than not it’s because they deal with 100s of story pitches from businesses every day. So keep trying, but avoid being annoying or rude or you can kiss your chance at publicity good bye.

Entrepreneurs like us need to be ready to hop on any news trend that can shine a media spotlight on our small business. Even if that means embracing the great Cicada Crisis of 2013!

Keep the stories coming. And may the media be with you!

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