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The 10 to 1 Rule: It’s About Thinking Small [Webinar Primer]

by | Apr 20, 2018 | Crisis Communications, Media, Pitching Tips, Public Relations

The following is a taste of what we’ll learn on April 25, when crisis prevention specialist Josh Weiss presents his Agility PR Solutions webinar, Good Coverage Equals Goodwill: 6 Ways to Get It.

Ever heard of the 10 to 1 rule?

It’s the idea that it takes 10 good things to be said about a company to make up for one negative story. And since it’s only a matter of time before somebody says something negative (regardless of if it’s true or not), it’s essential to build up a goodwill bank to protect your reputation.

Fortunately, most companies have lots of positive stories to share; unfortunately, no one seems to care. The bigger concern – and the real topic of this article – is that too many PR pros believe these stories are too small and unworthy of promotion.’

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Failing to take advantage of smaller story opportunities is one of the most common and most counter-productive things a company can do to their long-term success.

Think of each small news story as a drip out of a faucet. If you catch the drips, you can use the water any way you need it going forward. Compare that to earning one big story. That one big story is like a shower, when all the water is poured out at once. It feels great when the water’s running but as soon as it’s over, the water goes down the drain. Before long, you dry off and forget the experience.

Need a more direct example?

Let’s say a new restaurant opens in your neighborhood. If the first thing you hear is negative – the food was bad or the service was terrible – you’re never going to walk in the door. But if at first you hear lots of positive comments from various friends and neighbors – that they liked the food, enjoyed the ambiance, had good service, etc. – before hearing about a negative experience, chances are you’d still be open to try the restaurant out yourself.

How about a sports metaphor?

Too many PR pros are constantly trying to hit home runs. I get it, I love hitting a home run too. But the problem with home runs is that, if you’re always waiting for that perfect pitch, you’re going to strike out…a lot. Change your strategy. Focus on making contact and hitting lots of singles. Play “small ball” and run up the score.

Or how about a more selfish reason?

Would it be better for you professionally, as well as for your company/client, to have multiple stories listed on your website? Even if those stories are from smaller and mid-sized media outlets spanning six months? Or would you prefer one story link from a prime media outlet during that same time period? Oh, and don’t forget the benefit to your sales team. Being able to point to multiple articles gives them more examples to add to collateral materials and sales kits, providing more third-party validation of your company.

To be clear, I’m not saying to avoid big story efforts. Big stories are great and should absolutely be part of your PR goals. They just shouldn’t be your entire PR goal. Stop ignoring or minimizing the importance of small stories and the power and protection they provide companies. The added reach and frequency small stories collectively provide your company will create the desired echo chamber for your target audience.

Remember the 10 to 1 rule. Build up those 10 positives so you’re ready when that one negative comes along.

Wanna make a big impression? Think small.


For examples and specific tips on how to recognize and share stories your company already has to tell, sign up for Josh Weiss’s free Agility PR Solutions workshop on April 25, titled Good Coverage Equals Goodwill: 6 Ways to Get It.

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