Ky Trang Ho is a communications Jedi master. She's worked in journalism for more than 20 years with stints in TV, radio, print and online. She used to cover Shark Tank for Forbes.com and now does marketing and PR for a blockchain startup called Utavi.
She saw first-hand as a Forbes contributor and IBD reporter the impact a single article could have on an entrepreneur's sales and public image. One Shark Tank entrepreneur got $40,000 in orders from one story Ky wrote about her. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs and even their PR reps are frequently going about it horribly, thus failing to benefit from free publicity.
Ky is on a mission to prevent you from making the same mistakes. She's going to share the best ways to get media coverage to build your brand and drive sales.
She used to cover shark tank for forbes.com. And now does marketing and PR for a blockchain startup called you to be and she saw firsthand as a Forbes contributor and IBD reporter the impact and single article could have on an enterpreneurs sales and Public Image one Shark Tank entrepreneur got $40,000 in all orders from one story.
Key wrote from her unfortunately entrepreneurs, even their PR reps are frequently doing going about it horribly. Thus failing to benefit from free publicity. He is on a mission to prevent you from making the same mistakes. She's going to share the best ways to get media coverage to build your brand and drive sales.
Welcome to the podcast key. How's it going? Good. Thank you so much for having me. It's my honor and pleasure sure. No. Of them. I really appreciate having you on on this podcast. We had not really talk too much about PR and also is really excited about getting into this topic. Especially how can pertain to e-commerce businesses and e-commerce General in e-commerce Marketing in general, but you know before we get into the topic of the day, why don't you tell us a little bit about your background and specifically how you got into what you're doing today?
Well, when I was I was at Investors Business Daily covering exchange-traded funds and mutual funds for nine years. Then I got a job offer from a start-up financial news site as an editor and reporter. This is in 2014. I gave IBD. Amongst the usual months notice. My editor organized a going away party at Tompkins Bar and Grill our local hangout.
Then my last week at IBD the startup owner retracted her job offer. He left me high and dry and there after I applied for a few jobs, but was rejected by all of them. So I decided to go out on my own as a Ghostwriter and media consultant and then a year later. I got a gig contributing. Forbes and I started out covering ETFs and mutual funds there and then I branched out into coverage shark tank on a fluke.
Okay. Gotcha guys shit. That's that's awesome. So how did that fluke actually happen covering Shark Tank. It is because Kevin O'Leary the star of the show launched a series of exchange-traded funds called. Oh shares and his PR agent contacted. Me, too. Cover that story and they offered me an interview with him.
And I said does that is like my dream come true? He is my favorite character or person my favorite show because I just recently got into watching that show I so I asked my editor is it okay if I cover shark tank as do a sidebar on the show since I'm going to be talking to him and she said sure we've been actually wanted.
Branch in to expand our coverage of Shark Tank. And so ever since then I became the Shark Tank person at for okay, that's that is awesome. I am also a huge shark tank fan as well. I think I've seen every single episode of shark tank up to the latest episode that I think are to couple weeks ago. So I am a huge fan, you know from every every season I dig in there and you know as an entrepreneur, You really these types of shows especially Shark Tank are very interesting to watch because you know, you can really empathize with the struggles that entrepreneurs go through and their whole process and so it's always interesting for me to watch.
So yeah, that's that's that's that's big that's used to me. I love Shark Tank. I got my MBA from Shark Tank and I can I talk to you. When I talk to you business owners, I often find myself asking the same questions that the sharks are asking entrepreneurs on the show and it's that show is just excellent in meeting out the problems in people's businesses and in their strategy and they're excellent at recommending approaches of new avenues to pursue.
They are just it's genius. Yes. Definitely. Yeah, you can really learn a lot from from the show for sure. I mean not only you know, The way to present your business in front of investors, that's really key. Especially if you're a business that's looking to get funding, you know, shark tank is of course not the only show that's like this that since former there's a lot of shows and I would always I would definitely recommend young entrepreneurs that.
You know know that they're going to do a pitch to to watch these shows and and kind of definitely take notes and see what answers are you know, Sydney what questions they're approached with and what type of answers they need to respond with. So, yeah, it's really really great. So, you know what the area of course that we're going to be talking about today is, you know taking advantage.
How does this how does a business really and specifically an e-commerce business? How can they take advantage of media coverage? And and how can they you know position their brand to get media coverage? And so this is really the first question is and this is a term that I've I've heard before but you wanted some little Lightman tan from you on is really what is, you know pageview journalism.
What do you what do you call that? Okay Patriot journalism is that it's a situation that we have here in the digital. Age is that page views have become the holy grail for news outlets because we could see in real time what news outlets are getting the most likes shares and eyeballs pageviews Drive ad revenue for news outlets.
And at the same time, they're crack cocaine for reporters and bloggers because getting like shares and eyeballs triggers a dopamine release in our brains. And that is that neurochemical is known as the reward the reward mom. Kill, and that's what makes us feel good. When we you know, when we get a raise or people praise us and so it's become a measure of quality like TV ratings.
And when I was at IBD, they gave us bonuses for the talk to reporters who stories got the most page views every week and porous pays our contributors based on page views and every week they sent out the editor sent out a list. Raking all of the Riders by their page views in which stories you can learn more about this phenomenon in Ryan holidays book trust me.
I'm lying Confessions of a media manipulator. He's really good at explaining the media landscape in the day and age of the in the digital age, right? Okay, then that's awesome, you know typically an average e-commerce company because I talk to Young e-commerce businesses to you all the time.
Because they're kind of the main customer base that we have here at Omni star, you know, typically these types of businesses. They're really just focused on a lot of them are really just focusing on just, you know, add online advertising the traditionals, you know going through social media the Facebook and and all of that and you don't really these days trying to get published and media Publications whether it's online or even offline.
It's something that I think is kind of far from. Are people's minds and I think maybe what has done what they have to understand first is okay. If they are going to go that route, you know, what would be the process so I would guess and it's I mean imagine it's really different from the days of old where it was.
Everything was just print, you know, and there was no on lines. I know the process was really totally different than where you know, you had a picture dirt a journalist and you know kind of must form a relationship and you know, it was a quite. Sure, a longer process. Now these days things are of course different because all of these these companies like you mentioned the Forbes, you know, the IBD all of these companies that that put out content our you know, our little different how exactly do these news word newsrooms work these days versus you know, the good old days when there was really no online.
The painful is according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics since 2001 more than. Half of Newsroom jobs have gone to the good place. Do you know what I'm referring to is the good place that show on Netflix know what is okay. I'm not familiar with that. Okay. Well, that's my pop culture reference.
The good place. Is this show about this woman who dies and goes to quote the good place which is, you know, their interpretation of heaven, but she's really not supposed to be there and they she doesn't want to get found out because she's going to go to the bad place. Okay, and the bad place is where all the evil people go?
Okay. So so here we have The Newsroom jobs have gone to the good place. And of course the people who work at tabloids are went to the bad place. Okay, just kidding. Okay, so we have fewer and Pete fewer people have to do more work than ever because of the addiction to page views and the demand to drive online traffic to get ad Revenue.
So. And then against this backdrop, we have more news sites and blogs than ever competing for eyeballs. Right? So you have fewer people have being forced to do more work than ever. So that's why you see a lot of news outlets are just parroting what other news outlets are blog reported and then they also just repost content from sites like Korra or medium, right?
Well, I've been published commentaries from thought leaders for which there's an endless supply. I feel like. For Thought leaders in America than there are city in China. Right? Right. I can imagine I think what you're really getting at is see these days it's because you have all of this information that it does really at the disposal of these journalists in these newsrooms.
You really have to almost go that extra whole extra mile just to even to try to even get noticed because you know, when there was the pre-internet days, you know there when there was no internet. They were just relying on you know, just the regular Grassroots trying to find stories, you know, of course they were getting pitched but the pitches were probably just through phone calls through regular snail mail and do you know faxes that guess even if people pitch that way I'm not even sure if people get pitches be a facts yet song could imagine that so, you know, they probably had a just a such a smaller pool to pull from so I guess.
These days where they are a little spoiled. I guess you could say and so you have to definitely keep that in mind. And so I guess with that in mind, you know, how does a business really get reporters or a bloggers to try to cover them to even notice them and even take their time? So you basically have to do all the footwork for them and provide them everything.
They need to write about you and serve it up to. On a silver platter tied with a bow God's now the first order of business is to create a press kit and you'd be surprised but I dealt with so many companies from Shark Tank you think that they would be so smart because they got on Shark Tank, but they didn't even have.
A press kit and you know photos on hand to distribute. So first order of business is that you have to write as provide as much information and laid out for them as much as possible. So you have to write a company bio a Founder bio detailed product descriptions fa q's and provide product photos landscape and portrait and make them as simple as possible like just the product again.
Plain background because increasingly people are looking at using cell phones only. I think there was like some type of some ridiculously high number like 30 percent of Internet users are cell phone only users right so they don't have a computer. So if you look at a picture on a small screen, it has to be simple as possible so that people can see your product front and center gotcha and you have to have its best to have a neutral background so that it will go with any type of.
Occasions like for instance, you know for a Christmas theme you will want it can work for Christmas or birthdays or fourth of July. And if you have you know, a colored background, it might not work for a different holiday, and I think it's really important to notice that. You should make your photos landscape because if you do a head shot that is a vertical or portrait.
Sometimes it gets top of cut off at the top or bottom when it gets shared on social media. So then you look like you got decapitated right Antoinette it and then they'll after you get this order business in order. Then you pitch story ideas and staged events now, there's countless things you. And do but I'll give you my top three.
The first one is provide original data or research. For example, the candy store.com did a survey of 40,000 customers about the best and worst Halloween candy and they made a list of the top 10 of each and this story was covered all over the place. Like just Google good-looking Google News candy store.com and you will see they were covered by local news national news.
Is this news outlets alike from fortunate Business Insider time everywhere, right then to is stage an event or do something that piggybacks on something that the news is already covering such as a holiday or a major event like the election like for instance there were tons of companies that gave out deals and discounts on for voters and.
Reporters like to do stories like, you know top ten stories of discounts. You can get on Election Day that's easy to piggyback off of or even you know, deliver free pizza to voters in line. The cameras are going to be at the poles. And so you'll get your brand front and center for free. Right?
Right. That's true. Now third is creating how-to guides for videos and people love how to guides and videos. For example, Jason Hanson. He's a former CIA agent turned entrepreneur and he does various how to demos like how to free yourself if you're kidnapped and tied up with duct tape and he's been all over the place with.
His methods and you can check out his book celebrity method and he also has a website celebrity method.com and he's really good because like most of us will never find be stuck in that situation of interesting to see and so he's created out of this. He's created basically a media Consulting business showing people how to get media coverage.
Wow. Yeah, that's that's interesting. And that that really just really goes down to prove how really provides something that they you know, these journalists can't get anywhere else. Like you said who's going to think to to put together a strategy for getting out of being you know handcuffed duct tape, you know, nobody really thinks about that, but it's the type of thing where you know, you just see that you see that title you see.
About that blurb you like em, even though you're you know the back of your mind. You're like that's not gonna happen to me ever again. It just it Sparks the Curiosity and you're like, okay exactly. I'm really curious. Yeah. What is he going to suggest? So real things along that line or what would really, you know, I guess you say kind of go that extra mile and would be something very unique that you can't get anywhere else and you know to go back to your to your earlier points.
It's I guess it really is just key that. You you know, unfortunately the business owners could do have to go that extra mile and provide all of this information up front. But you know, it's just it's just the way the landscape is right. Now you have to you have to spoon-feed all of this information and make sure your whole presentation is is on point because they're you know, they're getting pitched left and right, you know between emails that there are of course they're getting between.
The social media pings across their Twitters and you know the Facebook's the Instagram there. I'm sure most of these journalists that you know cover different niches that are out there there. I'm sure they're just inundated with just requests and pitches and I'm sure absolutely they don't know where to begin when they first start looking at that stuff.
So yeah that I can totally understand how you have to really go that. That extra mile now, you know when you decided in a business that has decided that they're going to go this route. They want to you know, they want to be covered by a reporter or a blogger how really do they really get the right blood reporters or bloggers to cover them?
Is there any specific strategy? Okay, so I will give you the most expensive way to do it the profession that professionals use NPR and then the. It's trapped way. So the number one thing that PR agents do is they subscribe to Media databases like scission. That's spelt with a cc is IO n meltwater or muckrake and these databases compile all the contact information for reporters and they gather information on their beeps.
And so you can screen for reporters by their beats and then. In an email blast all at once or you can screen for reporters by what they've covered recently such as your competitor. So if they covered your competitors are more they're likely to be interested in you also and then the boots Taft way is to do a search for your Target keyword and then see who comes up on the front page and then reverse engineer their position.
So and. So how do you reverse engineer what they did you can look up who is who covered them and who is linking to their website? Because the amount of links and Page views and the time that somebody stays on a website is what drives the front page ranking and you can look all this up on several websites and the top two is.
Spicy food.com and I be a notch.com and they will show you the keywords that your competitors are ranking on what content they created that is getting the most traffic. So you could do something similar or an alternative. It's just to Spur your ideas. And then it's also to show you who's linking to them so you could go after those same targets, right?
Right. Yeah, that's awesome. And I'm very familiar with spicy food is a and. Fortunate in the days that we're in right now because of these, you know web software Solutions like the spyfu and there's other Solutions out there that will allow you to pull that data so you can see exactly what your competitors are doing.
Another one pretty Advanced SEO tool. It's a traps each roughstock. That's a a yes. That kind of is a great tool to where you can get competitive data from there as far as all the way down to, you know, the keywords that your competitors are bidding on the cost per clicks. Yep you need. And find out where their links are where they getting all of their back links.
And so you can try to approach these same sites. And of course some of these sites are going to be news Publications and you can drill down and in and try to approach these same authors. So yeah, it's all out there just image requires a little bit of digging but I think now so more than ever.
There's so many tools can put the right reporters right bloggers right in front of you, you know, if you if you do the work, yeah, let me throw out another. Tool that I use is so when you find the reporter and the website that you want to go after so how do you get their contact information? One of the tools I use is a Chrome extension called Hunter IO and when you go to a website, if you click on the hunter IO extension it will give you a pop-up menu list of all the email addresses that are associated with that website and you.
Also try to look up a person's email by entering it into the query and they will guess the email based on the site's format. Like first name dot last name or first initial last name so forth and you could try all of those and I've heard a lot of people just trying all the variations and it. For and then you could also look them up on LinkedIn.
Yeah. Yeah that likes a quitter, right? That's also another good way. But yeah Hunter I dot IO is a great tool. I've heard a lot of marketers reference that we use a similar tool in house here at Omni Stars really similar to a hundred I oh, I believe it's fine that lead and you can do the same thing.
You can type in the company information and it's it has a database where it's pretty effective. They did normally pulls, you know some emails from the company and. You know, that's really great. Especially when you're doing you know cold prospecting where you have know, you know, a lot of times these days with a lot of these sites in these Publications and these blogs their email address of the authors are not going to be a parent, you know, because they don't want to get spammed and inundated with so many yes.
Oh you got to do a little bit of digging, you know, it's not like the early days of the internet where everybody was putting everything out there. So it's a things are a little a little hidden these days now one of the things that I noticed a lot of times. Reading different Publications, whether it's about e-commerce marketing whether it's about online marketing or just something related to to the niche of the business that we're in right now.
I always see where reporters are bloggers. They would quote someone they would like quote a reference whether either they spoke to someone or maybe they're quoting an article where that person you know, reference some content. Appropriate so I see that that's also another way to really kind of get out there and get noticed if you're if you're being constantly quoted by a blog or a top writer.
What's really the easiest way to get quoted and how does that even happen Okay, I recommend everyone if you want to get quoted and get links to your site from external from blogs and news outlets is to sign up for an account on health reporter.com. And the site is called Help. Reporter out for short is Haro.
And this is basically the match.com for reporters and sources and reporters post queries every day of the stories that are working on and the sources they're looking for and then the site sends out an email blast all the stories that they're working on to the sources and you go through every story query and see if you're a match and then you just.
Directly to that reporters questions and I am on it every day. I answer a query on an average once a day and I've been quoted at least 10 times because of using through Caro and right now. All many many news outlets and bloggers are looking for gift ideas for Holiday list because those are going to be huge going into Black Friday Cyber Monday, and of course, you know the next two months, right?
So it's a huge opportunity to get on that list and see who needs product ideas. The downside is that a lot of them are do this. I feel like almost to get free products so that. You have to consider that that's the cost of doing business for you. If you want to get quoted and featured in their list is that you have to mail them free products to quote review.
Okay, right, right. I guess that's the downside but you know to get noticed and to get published that's just you know, it's a small expense. But yeah, the helper reporter outside is great. And a lot of I've heard a lot of other marketers reference that as a way to to to really get out there and get some exposure because that's you know the side.
Really just a whole pool of reporters. And I know that's what a lot of people are thinking is like, you know, where do they you know, where do they congregate or their online forums? And that that that's a great resource to you know to kind of put to see what these different bloggers are doing and what things that they're looking for.
So you can try to try to meet your need meet their needs and you know, one of the things that I was also thinking is it's why these I don't know if this is it easier these days for the reporters are bloggers or is it harder because if you think about all of. Things that are at their fingertips and at their disposal as far as the you know, trying to find stories and kind of doing the grunt work, it just seems like there's not that much of that these days and it's just a lot of things are our kind of handed to them.
So I'm sure there's a downside to what they do and I'm sure they do of course put in a lot of work, but you got to think that you know, they really have a lot of stuff that's presented to them and I guess more of what their job is the. Is just I guess it's more of a weeding a weeding process. It's not more of a hunting process.
It's the kills are being put right on their desk. It's just a matter of them looking through and seeing what's the most tasty kill to, you know, they to stab into I guess. Yes, it seems like every type of product categories oversaturated these days. Yeah. Yeah first for sure now, I'm a fan of reading long, you know interviewed.
Post from you know entrepreneurs as well as other, you know, just media personalities that really, you know, give you some insight into what they're doing. And those are really always interesting and I think I may not be the only one but I think a lot of people are interested in these long feature type interviews because they're compelling you get to hear sterile stories personal stories.
And those are things that pull people in now if a business really wants to you know, do get something like that. This for themselves, which would be you know, really great long-form, you know, maybe background story on their company and their products and where they are today. How would they specifically get a reporter or blogger to do something like that for a long form interview?
I think the first thing you have to do is really write your own story and develop Your Own Story first because if you write your own story first, at least the reporters know what you are going to say and what they can elaborate or expand on and they know that you've put thought into this there have been so many times where PR people pitched me and to do a story about their client and then I talked to them and they.
Are just fumbling all over the place their story isn't straight and it's just horrible. So you really have to get your story straight. And here's the story Model. I suggest people follow is to have is to follow. The hero's journey, you know about the hero's journey. I'm not familiar with that one to explain.
Okay, the hero's journey is the age-old format that you will see in all storytelling from time immemorial and it's the premise of all Disney stories and All Greek mythology and it starts with you are. The protagonist in your story and your metaphorically dying for some reason and you are you have to face some type of change or challenge or else you'll be stuck where you are.
So you have to show what is it that the struggle that you are having then you show what a mentor or some type of find a mentor or some type of solution to your problem and how. Hit rock bottom basically the protagonist in the hero's journey has to metaphorically die. And then we be reborn and then when you're reborn you come out with new insights new lessons that you share with everyone else that you take back with you to your old place, right?
That's us summary a quick summary. And so you have to basically show get down and dirty. D and personal rich people love personal stories of failure and reverse and Redemption, right and the best metaphor I've ever heard I could think of for this is I used to take pole dancing classes from now for fun.
I got a Groupon. Okay my instructor, I think her name was Veronica. She told me that. She could fly around that pole like a flag at half-staff. Okay, she was very acrobatic and she told me that no matter how awesome her number was how routine it what much gymnastic work. She put into it the audience always wanted to see her hoo-ha and if they don't see her hoo-ha not good, right.
You always have to show them your hoo-ha, so. Think of what is your hoo-ha that you could show? Okay. I love that analogy. I don't think I would have thought of that. But yeah, that's a very interesting analogy very visual picture that but that that makes sense. Like you said you want you want to show me your goods.
So speak you want to show you you have to be. If you're going to be in this type of interview format long-form format, you've got to be willing to be vulnerable with the reporters logger and you know, really just kind of let your guard down. I guess you could say so that people can really connect and get to know you.
You know, that's all stories can really go viral. Exactly. I know the most powerful story I've read is by golly a blogger named John Morrow Google John Morrow and it's his story was something to on the. End of Life Lessons Learned From a guy who can only move who can move nothing but his eyes or his or his mouth sorry his mouth and he talked about how he grew up.
He has a rare condition which has left him completely paralyzed and he can only he but he's the most amazing successful blogger because he developed a system to write and then now he teaches. Everyone else to blog and he makes millions. Wow, that's incredible. Yeah that that is that really is and so, you know just kind of goes to show where you know, everybody has a story and then a lot of it is going to come down to just you have to be prepared to put it out there and you know think about what you would be interested in hearing and you know apply that to what you're putting out there to to the audience and yeah, that's it.
That's it. Lesson for sure. Yeah, and he posted that on his own blog. He didn't pitch it to other people first, but then because of that blog and because it went viral he got all kinds of media attention from writing his story first. Wow. Okay, so he just put himself out there and then the media just picked up on it.
Yeah. Okay. Got not sure that that's that's awesome. That's a that's a great story and kind of testimony to if you're genuine and you put yourself out there, you know, you'll be able to connect at some point with you know, With somebody well, I think I definitely appreciate all of the Insight that you've given us key.
It's been really you give us a lot of action items and I know our listeners are going to take he to to a lot of what you said again. These are some areas that we hadn't really covered too much in the podcast. So I appreciate you know, everything that you've you've shared. And I normally ask my guests of the closing fun fact question, but I think he kind of jumped the gun and he may have already asked answer that.
My little usual closing question is what would be one thing that our audience would be surprised to know about you. So and unless you can top the pole dancing. Um, you know that let me know. Well, I also believe in practicing the power of unconditional love. I think that's as awesome as pole dancing.
Okay. Gotcha, and I learned that. From Reading David Hawkins. Okay, and the book is most famous book is called power versus Force. Okay. Alright might be Force versus power, but I learned that practicing unconditional love you attract love and Goodwill towards you and I'll leave it at that. Gotcha.
That's great. That is an awesome closing. Thought I'm not familiar with David Hawkins, but I will definitely look him up for sure. Yeah, the little we'll leave it at that. We definitely appreciate you being here key and the insights again for joining us here on the e-commerce marketing podcast. You have a great day.
Thank you so much. Thank you for listening to the e-commerce marketing podcast. You need to get more feedback and reviews from your customers and improve your customer retention. We have made it easy to do all of this with our Advanced customer feedback software just visit get OS i.com forward slash feedback and sign up for a free trial today.
That's get OS i.com forward slash feedback.
Ky Trang Ho
Author of Humans of Shark Tank