Rafe Gomez, VC Inc. Marketing
So how long have you been doing the PR thing? Officially, seven years. Unofficially, 17.
How did you get into it? I was the host, DJ, and producer of a nationally syndicated radio mix show in the 2000’s called “The Groove Boutique.” One of the ways that I enticed stations to carry the show was by offering to generate coverage about it in their local media. Given that these stations had no budgets for PR, this additional perk was very attractive to them, so that’s how I developed my PR chops. When my radio gig ended, I wrote, produced, and voiced an audiobook called “What’s In It For ME?” about a unique sales-driven job interview strategy that I developed. I launched a news release about it on PRWeb, which led to coverage on Fox News Channel, MSNBC, PBS, the New York Daily News, and a slew of other top tier outlets. The swell of media attention helped the audiobook become a top seller on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes—so I quickly learned how properly constructed PR campaigns can ramp up sales.
What differentiates VC Inc. Marketing from other PR providers? My specialty is what I call sales support content creation. It’s a variant of conventional PR, and here’s the diff: rather than wait for a client to share a newsworthy development with me, I work closely with my clients’ sales teams to figure out their news, updates, and developments that would be of maximum interest to prospective customers/clients.
Hold on. “Sales support content creation”? Is that really a thing, or are you just messing with us? Oh, it’s a straight up thing, my scoffing amigo. Here’s the M.O.: every nubbin of media coverage that I generate for my clients is used as a sales tool in their efforts to revisit old or dead leads, entice current leads, and use in future pitches and presentations. It’s credible, third party validation that the sales promises that they’re making are true and that their unique value proposition is reliable. To sleep on this coverage as a conversation starter or deal closer is wasteful, and diminishes its ROI. So once it’s live, I collaborate with my clients’ sales teams and share tips on how it can be leveraged to help them successfully develop, build, and close sales opportunities. Capiche?
Got it. Given your heavy sales emphasis, do you have a particular sales philosophy that drives your PR process? I’m a big believer in an approach that was devised by a guy named Lee Boyan, who was an influential author of sales books and a sales trainer. Boyan said that you can sell a product or service to any client (in a B2B situation) if you can prove that it can make a client money, save a client money, or improve the image of the client’s organization in the marketplace. Once you understand a client’s exact needs—which may be one or more of the above “closing triggers”—you then prove, using data and facts, that what you’re selling delivers on those triggers. This methodology drives every campaign that I launch, and is the secret sauce that allows me to serve up primo results for my clients in any industry.
How do you generate business leads? I’m a contributor of articles about PR, sales strategy, and messaging to a bunch of industry publications, including Entrepreneur, PR Daily, Sales & Marketing Management, Marketing Profs, CMO, and others. These stories, which provide me with a forum to share my POV, have generated a steady stream of incoming inquiries, leads, and prospects that I’ve converted into real business. My favorite article appeared in Entrepreneur, and was about the leadership lessons of Negan, a bad guy from AMC’s “The Walking Dead”. It poked fun at cliche marketing speak, and had a twisted sense of humor. Fun stuff.
What kind of tips can you share about “selling” journalists with your clients’ stories? Make sure that your pitches follow the “three C’s”: clear, concise, and compelling. And when I say “compelling”, I’m not just tossing in some random, hackneyed yang for the purpose of having an alliterative C in my flow. Compelling = unique, first, and only. It’s something so new, pithy, and punchy that it can be summarized in one sentence, and can be easily communicated by the recipient of your pitch to someone else on their editorial team.
What’s the biggest misperception that your clients have about social media? That it’s a vehicle to amp your brand/organization and sell your stuff. When they understand that social media offers an opportunity to engage your customers/clients and build trust, useful insights, and conversations, that’s when they realize (sometimes, but not always) the value that it can offer.
What is it about PR that you need to educate your clients about? News releases aren’t ads or promotional tools—they’re news. To be credible and effective, they should provide the media (and prospective clients/customers) with newsworthy updates or developments, and shouldn’t be loaded with exclamation points, breathless hype, or self-serving boasts. The goal is to provide a persuasive message that’s closer to the tone of CNN than QVC.
With your background on the wheels of steel in mind, are there any similarities between music and PR? Get to the hook as quickly as possible. And make that hook fresh, memorable, and irresistible, so your audience will want to revisit it again and again.
What’s been your biggest PR “win”? Pitching, developing, and coordinating a five-minute segment on NBC’s “Today” for a client. Not only was it phenomenal exposure for their offerings, it also—almost instantly—helped to explode their sales across the country. They’re still using it as a convincing sales tool to this day.
What kind of stuff do you read daily? Mediaite, NY Post, NY Daily News, Fox News, Buzzfeed, Digital Marketing Weekly, and DianeRavitch.net, to stay on top of the scumbaggery of “education reformers” (I’m a big supporter of traditional public education).
What’s your favorite way to de-stress? Taking long walks around NYC. I find the merciless barrage of energy and tumult to be quite Zen inducing.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work? Without a doubt, it’s seeing my clients’ elated reactions to the incoming inquiries, leads, and prospects that come about when I launch their campaigns, and also when they use the content that I create to successfully close business deals.
What’s been the worst PR crisis in the news this year so far? You might think it would be the dual disasters of United and Pepsi, but IMHO, it was the bubbleheaded and ignorant testimony of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at her confirmation hearings, as well as her destructive agenda. She’s a PR calamity, but since our President thinks she’s the bee’s knees, she can ignore the negative press about her and how much her actions are enraging people around the country. (Don’t get the brotha started…)
Favorite TV show? “The Get Down” on Netflix. Brings back lots of old school memories about the pop culture landscape of the late 70s and the birth of hip hop. And you know that!
Your first “real” job? Selling ad space on diner placemats. No kidding.
Top albums? Greyboy Allstars - “A Town Called Earth”, Return to Forever - “Romantic Warrior”, Sam Cooke - “Live at the Harlem Square Club”, Jeff Beck - “Blow by Blow”, Corduroy - “Dad Man Cat”.
Any cool celeb encounters from your radio days? I partied with Al Roker, Dick Clark, Dee Snider, and Alice Cooper at an industry convention in Manhattan.
Wow! Any scandalous tidbits that you can share? Al said that if I leaked any of the dirty deets, he’d end me and my family, so…
No problem, understood. Thanks, dood.