PR happens when people say good things about you because you have done good things for others. Simple. It works on the basis of the Law of Reciprocity. It means what goes around comes around — in a nice way.
About a month ago, I found out that my friend Beverly Shepard was offering a reward of up to $6,000 to anyone who could help her find a marketing or PR job anywhere in the U.S. As I posted earlier, Bev was laid off in January from her marketing job at the Virginian-Pilot, but she suspected that her job might be eliminated a year prior to that when she learned that the newspaper was for sale. She paid a search firm in Arizona $6,000 to help her find a job way back then, but she got nada. Not even one interview.
So on March 15 she sent a notice to all of her friends and LinkedIn contacts offering a finder’s fee to anyone who found her a full-time job with benefits. A $120,000-job pays $6,000 or 5 percent. An $80,000-a-year job pays $800 or 1 percent.
I thought this was a very cool and creative idea, and immediately recognized the publicity possibilities. I helped Bev craft a press elease and pitched it to a targeted media list. Joe Flanagan at Channel 13, Norfolk, Virginia's ABC affiliate, bit right away and did stories the next day that ran on both the 5 and 6 p.m. news.
But that was only the beginning. That triggered a flood of other interviews, including stories in Fast Company Magazine, on BlogTalkRadio, TheEbonyNetwork.com, BlackAmericans.com, iReport.com and – ultimately – on CNN. Bev has gotten dozens of leads and several promising interviews from the publicity. (But she’s still available and offering the finder’s fee – contact her with leads.)
Then on Sunday afternoon I was scanning my LinkedIn email, and there was a question from Publicity Hound Joan Stewart, who has a huge internet following and writes a free weekly ezine called The Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week (you should sign up) with a circulation of more than 40,000. Joan asked about creative ways that people are use social media to job hunt. I told her about Bev’s reward and our publicity campaign, and this week she featured this as the top story in her ezine and wrote even more about it at her blog. And the bonus? She mentioned me and linked to my Web site.
That’s how PR and the Law of Reciprocity works. Go do something for somebody. It doesn’t always pay off in black-and-white (though it often does), but it may just help somebody get a job.
This post is dedicated to the memory of Suzanne Williams, who was a generous practitioner of the Law of Reciprocity in her everyday life. She will be greatly missed by her husband, family and friends.