Recently I was asked if I’d go and speak – on my birthday in fact – to a group of Bach Flower Remedy practitioners about how they can engage more with the media as part of a mini-conference organised near me in the Midlands.
If you haven’t heard of it (which I hadn’t) Bach Flower Remedies is a system of 38 ‘flower remedies’ that can help correct emotional imbalances. Discovered by Dr Edward Bach, each flower coincides with different emotions and can help you replace negative feelings with positive ones and generally be happier.
Like I say, I didn’t know anything about it but they weren’t after my knowledge of Bach – they were after my experience as a journalist to help advise them on how to navigate the scary world of the media and tell their story.
It’s not the first time I’ve helped with this – a common issue for people working in business, whether it’s at a fairly high level or just setting up their own business is how they go about telling their story so that a) people will actually listen, and b) how to deal with the media without, quite frankly, shooting themselves in the foot. All of that falls under the umbrella of ‘PR’, another scary term.
As a journalist, you’re constantly on the end of PR – people trying to promote their product, their company, sometimes themselves. And the difference between good and bad pr can be the difference between getting a journalist to tell your story or getting yourself ignored. In fact, the worst case scenario is that you’ll end up getting a story told about you that you don’t want told at all – something negative and the exact opposite of what you were trying to do.
The roomful of Bach practitioners I spoke to are trying to build their practices and part of that is probably going to be telling their story and telling people about the Bach system. So what I tried to do was to give them a few tips on how how they could go about doing that.
I’m a big advocate of reminding people that there are no hard and fast rules about this stuff. There’s good practice and there are suggested ways of doing things, but ultimately a lot of pr relies on building good relationships with journalists. Once people get their head round this and are willing to put in the ground work, it can lead to great things and to lasting relationships that not only help you get your story told but can go some way to making sure that you don’t accidentally put your foot in your mouth and end up causing the bad press you were trying to prevent in the first place.
During my session with the lovely Bach ladies, we looked at what makes a decent story, what stories they could tell, how best to present them to journalists and the media and how to go about building those vital relationships. My favourite part of sessions like this is when people start getting involved and we had plenty of that. Not just that, but apparently they actually found it helpful which is always good news.
I wasn’t the only speaker – I was joined by the fabulous Sarah Sarkies from Mulberry Design who gave a great presentation on how to get the best from your website and Lin Armstrong from Catching Waves about developing a decent marketing strategy. It turns out we’re all rather similar and trust me when I say these ladies know their stuff.
And so, after a morning spent with some rather inspiring people (who also got me a birthday present, bless them), I toddled off to enjoy the rest of my birthday. The following day, the organiser Lynn sent me an email telling me the comments after the event were “overwhelmingly positive” and everyone left with “lots of ideas and inspiration”.
The perfect response. Because that, after all, is what it’s all about.