In this episode of the #SWBPodcast, Maha Abouelenein, Chief Value Officer for Gary Vaynerchuk and Founder of Digital And Savvy, talks to Dina El-Mofty about mastering media relations in times when the world is overwhelmed with pandemic information.
By Ahmed Abuzaid
The world today looks like constant noise and distraction – and that’s not even taking into account the sinkhole of attention that is COVID-19 and pandemic-related news. While the world adapts to this new normal, how can your brand stand out in media and actually be heard?
In this episode of the #SWBPodcast, we bring you one of the most popular panels held at the Startups Without Borders Summit 2020, where Maha Abouelenein talks to every startup and founder about getting media attention in times when the world is not paying attention. During her talk with Dina El-Mofty, Maha unveils 5 seemingly simple, yet immensely valuable questions that will surely get every startup on the right footing with being heard in the middle of pandemic noise.
Maha says the first thing any brand needs to focus on is honing in on your message and crafting it into becoming a succinct one. Your customer will only be able to grasp on to your messaging when you think about the “why” as you craft what you communicate. Why does this message matter to the world? Why is there a need for you and your brand to be heard in the first place?
While the world is not only distracted but also engaged with saturated, and in fact further distracted by social media, the singularity of your messaging matters today more than ever in order to stay on point. She further elaborates on the importance of knowing the vehicle of your messaging. Knowing your key messages and how they reach your customers are one and the same.
Here, Maha talks about the importance of crafting a strategy of how your startup story will be heard. Whether it’s to customers, investors, or employees, a communications strategy or plan is key. This also cascades down to knowing exactly how you will utilize each of your social media channels to carry different aspects of your messaging to target. Are you a brand that works through events? Through social media? Are your employees ambassadors for your brand?
“You create your own news. You look inside the company, inside the product, inside your people, and find what are the stories that I can tell through my social media channels directly? Something we have learned through Covid is that direct to consumer matters.”
Maha states that what every startup needs to have is a good team of “messengers”. What you’ll need will vary from business to business but at the core, some services cannot be compromised on: a good photographer on the team for reliable images, and a good copywriter to translate your vision are must-haves. In addition, video content in today’s world is also valuable, no matter the production value. These are just some of the tools she mentioned that are vital to telling a brand story.
“For people that say they don’t have a story to tell: start with you. You’re the story. Why did you start this company? How did you come up with the idea? What’s a day in the life of running that business? There are so many stories that people love listening to.”
With an unrelenting pandemic and stay-at-home calls and orders, direct-to-consumer open lines of communication matter more than ever before. Make sure you allocate the time and capacity to have your brand or business be personable online. This has always been the case for social media interaction, but with COVID further affecting the way humans interact, that extra bit of personalization and closeness will go a long way with brand loyalty.
“In order to add value to others, you need to build value in yourself. It starts with you being valuable. Are you investing in yourself?
Decide where you can create most value to your consumer. But first, start by increasing your own value. Sharpen your skills in areas where you can excel, invest in places where your brand is lacking. The more value you create for yourself and your brand, Maha says, the more this will translate to your customers more easily. This means that before you go out into the world to solve others’ problems, attempt to empathize and get into your customers’ heads to see just where your value can be added to their lives.
Finally, as a PR and media relations guru, Maha Abu says that you must create your own news. You decide what stories out there about you should exist and matter, and you create them. Even if you’re just starting up and there’s not yet much to your brand, Maha says “the story is you!”.
“Lean into building your personal brand. Think about your consumer behavior: You like to invest in a brand that you know the person behind the brand. You like to know how they made this product, or the ‘behind the scenes.'”
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