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Keep your Audience Relevent – Not All Press is Good Press

4 minute read
by Alex Hillman

The last few weeks have been VERY good to IndyHall and some of our other grassroots creative friends. One of the leaders of those groups, Blake Jennelle, asked me about the response from press. He asked if the recent spot on CBS Morning News, or the Philadelphia Business Journal piece, had yielded a lot of phone calls or inquiries with interest.

Frankly, they haven’t yielded much more than a bunch of congratulations from friends and family who were excited to see us recognized. And it’s something to keep my mom off my back about my lack of finishing my degree. All of which I’m EXTREMELY appreciative of. It’s ridiculously humbling to get this kind of credit when it’s due to way more people than just me. It’s also validating that the work we’re doing is being seen by a more mainstream audience. I’ve said before that I think coworking is about much more than just what we do at IndyHall, and what others do at their coworking spaces…it’s not about where people want to work, it’s about how.

But that’s not my point. At least not today.

So, what is the point?

My point is, a little spot on the email newsletter Daily Candy actually gave us WAY more response from new interested parties. Like, a lot. Tripled our highest traffic day on the blog, and more than a handful of phone calls and visits from new people who read about us and were interested in spots.

I’ve got a couple of theories why this somewhat “counterintuitive lesson in niche marketing”, as Blake so eloquently put it, occurred.

First is a basic fault of mainstream press, and one that I’m hardly the first to note: mainstream press does not link. Period. They keep eyeballs on their own sites, and have ZERO interest in sharing link love. It’s absurd, but it’s true, and eventually as the they’ll catch on, or they’ll die off. Either way, the problem will be solved, and nothing we do is going to change them.

Net Fishing vs. The Heavy Artillery

The more important reason, I think, simply has to do with the niche we market to, and who viewed the pieces of press. Both the CBS news, at 7:30am, and the Philadelphia Business Journal, are NOT primarily consumed by work-from-the-couch indies. So again…lots of eyeballs, little audience relevance.

It’s the difference between casting a net, and harpoon fishing. It seems that the Daily Candy piece, however, was like having a multi-harpoon-launching-fishing-gatling-gun.

We still love mainstream

Theres an immense amount of value of getting the coworking message to the masses. Ultimately, this movement is (I hope) going to shape their futures, and they should know we’re coming. Also, some messages need the attention of the masses. Mainstream press isn’t going away, don’t think that for a second. I’m just saying that in some cases, it may not be the place you should put your focus first.

If you want people to care, you have to show them that you care, first. And freaking mean it.

But apply this to your business, organization, or idea: rather than cast a net of press releases, think hard about your target(s). Casting a net takes a whole lot of energy with very little yield. Diligent and clearly targeted messaging, however, yields much greater results with the same amount of energy.

So next time you’re trying to get your idea out there, chew on this: try finding thought leaders in that target audience, and get friendly. Give them the attention they deserve. Read up on them. Hand craft emails. These people deserve your attention, since you’re asking it of them. Sending them a canned message is going to fall into the pile with all of the other canned PR. It’s worthless. It really is.

If you want these people to care, you need to prove that you give a shit about your own message. And I’m sorry, but a canned press release doesn’t scream “I care”.

Even though your target for making your message reach a widespread audience are “influencers”, because they can change winds, thought leaders tend to be more approachable, and guess who the influencers turn to for their next “big thing” to influence.

You got it. The thought leader that you planted a seed with.


Bursting out to the masses with every little move you make, if you think about it, kinda turns into a ‘boy who cried wolf’ scenario. What happens when you actually DO make a move that’s notable.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t share your every move. I do it on twitter. I do it on the IndyHall blog. I do a fair amount of it here. But those are all opt in messaging, and the people who receive it are people who want to. If I’m lucky, some of those “followers” are thought leaders and influencers, and…

I guess that’s how we ended up in mainstream press in the first place.

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Hey, thanks for reading!

Alex Hillman I am always thinking about the intersection of people, relationships, trust and business. I founded Indy Hall in 2006, making us one of oldest fully independent coworking communities in the world. This site is packed with the lessons and examples I’ve learned along the way. You can find me on Twitter, too! 🐦 Say hi.