TL;DR: What To Expect From This Episode
Bianca Bucaram is the lead publicist for the Bucaram PR Group. She has worked for multiple successful businesses and individuals and has helped to launched countless new products and brands. She has also mopped up a lot of negative press, which isn’t always easy to do in the era of cancel culture.
Most businesses and personal brands need to think about PR. It’s not just about advertising and marketing; it’s about changing the public perception and putting your narrative in front of new and existing customers.
When you consider traditional PR, as well as social media PR and digital PR, there’s a lot to contemplate; a lot of balls to keep in the air. But with help from Bianca Bucaram, I will show you how to manage PR campaigns for your brand.
In this guide, and accompanying video, you will learn about:
- The Basics of PR: Not sure what PR is or if it’s right for your brand? It’s one of the first things that we will discuss. The short answer is that PR is right for everyone. For the long answer, you’ll need to read the guide.
- Influencer Marketing: Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok stars are massively influential and often have more of an impact on consumer trends than A-list actors and musicians. By utilizing the digital PR techniques outlined in this guide, you can tap into that power and use influencers to successfully promote your products and services.
- The Process: Bianca outlines her entire 5 step process for launching a public relations campaign. It’s the same one that she uses to help her clients; the same one that has generated millions in value for the country’s biggest brands. In this guide, you’ll learn how to implement it for your own projects.
Throughout the video, Bianca provides millions of dollars’ worth of insights, but at the end, I squeeze her for a little more and ask her the $100,000 question. This is the advice that could help individuals like yourself to generate more than $100,000 in value.
Bianca’s answer is short and sweet, but it is also incredibly powerful and for the right people, it could be priceless.
Make sure you read to the end of this guide to see the $100,000 advice for yourself. You can also watch the full video, which is embedded below.
A Masterclass In PR From Bianca Bucaram
Bianca Bucaram is the older sister of Kristina Bucaram, AKA FullyRaw Kristina. Bianca is a PR expert who helped her sister to grow her raw vegan empire and become one of the leading figures in the “green food” movement.
I was delighted when she agreed to take the hot seat for the latest episode of This Week With Sabir. It meant that I could get some insights into the techniques and processes behind her sister’s growth, as well as the growth of countless other companies that Bianca has worked with.
She is a true master in PR, and this episode is her masterclass.
Whether you’re interested in traditional PR, digital PR, social media PR, or the many nuances of crisis management, this is the guide for you.
What Is Public Relations (PR)?
Public Relations (PR) is communication between brands and the public. It is literally a relation with the public, and it’s something that all major brands utilize.
PR is different from marketing and advertising because while the goal is to improve the brand’s exposure and increase its bottom line, it’s more concerned with reputation and storytelling than conversion metrics and CPMs.
Bianca Bucaram described public relations as, “What people say about you when you’re not there”. Does the general public consider your brand to be dishonest and untrustworthy and, if so, what can you do to change that?
It’s essential for building modern businesses and in the modern era, it requires a multi-faceted approach, often referred to as “traditional PR” and “digital PR”.
Traditional PR refers to the methods and approaches that have existed for many decades. It’s about radio, TV, newspapers, and other traditional forms of media.
As for digital PR, it deals more with the vast and responsive world of social media and online content. The goal is the same across both traditional PR and digital PR, and the two also cross paths, but there are some differences in the way they need to be handled.
Digital PR, for instance, requires a more responsive approach, as everything happens quickly on social media and you need a strategy that is just as quick and reactive. It also incorporates more forms of media and digital PR experts are often less reliant on their personal contacts.
Bianca Bucaram also described her work as “enriching experiences and lives with stories”. Storytelling is a major part of public relations. It’s how you get your message and your ideas across to the general public. It also gives them a reason to get behind you, an incentive to buy from you, and something that they can fall in love with.
As Bianca noted during our discussion, we all have an innate love of storytelling.
As children, we ask our parents to read stories to us. We get lost in fairytales and believe anything that our parents tell us if it’s framed around an interesting narrative. As we age, we move to ghost stories and horror stories. We start craving drama and falling in love with TV series, films, video games, and literature.
All of these things rely on storytelling. They target that desire that lies deep within all of us, and a good publicist will do the same.
Not convinced? Not a fan of literature, films, games, or TV drama? Then think about it in the context of reality shows.
If American Idol introduces you to an arrogant youngster who has a mediocre voice and spends most of his audition showing off to the panel, you probably won’t support him. You may even decide that you hate him and want him to fail.
But if there is a video clip before his audition that talks about how he lost his parents at a young age, was bullied mercilessly, and then learned how to use confidence and a passion for singing to stay happy and mentally strong, you’ll change your mind.
In fact, American Idol does that all of the time. It shapes the narrative by introducing elements such as the death of parents and grandparents and by encouraging the participants to talk about their inspirations and saddest moments.
It knows that no one cares about a show full of arrogant men and women who just want to make a lot of money as professional singers. It knows that no one would get behind them and vote for them, and so it tells their stories, it gives their characters depth, and it provides the audience with the incentive they need.
That is the power of PR and it’s why Bianca’s work is so important.
Who Can Benefit From A PR Agency?
Companies of all types can benefit from PR. Growing brands need to make a connection to the general public, as that’s where their customers are and it’s where their growth will come from.
As noted above, PR is different from advertising. It’s not just about getting more eyes on your projects; it’s about establishing communication with the public and shaping your reputation.
These are a few of the people that can benefit from working with a PR specialist or agency:
The term “influencer” covers a pretty broad scope of individuals and it’s fair to assume that you don’t need to worry about PR if you have 100 followers and no brand deals.
But if you’re growing a substantial following and starting to think about profiting from your brand (influencer marketing is big business these days) then PR can help you.
Social media PR will help to take your brand across multiple different platforms, increase your exposure, and get your message out there. General digital PR will push more people to your main account and bring some marketers and collaborators on board, as well.
Good PR can help a small business to go viral. It can give it direction and become the catalyst for growth.
As small businesses are not in the spotlight, they don’t need to worry so much about crisis management (more on that below), but they do need to think about their approach to storytelling and consider reviews, testimonials, viral marketing, and other things that can help them to grow.
If you’re selling your services as a writer or graphic designer, you don’t need a PR expert and can do most of the work yourself. There are limitations with regard to the clients that you can work with and you don’t need to worry too much about having a spotless reputation, so your efforts need to be more on marketing and advertising than PR.
Medium And Large Businesses
It should go without saying that large businesses need some help in this department, including digital PR, social media PR, and traditional PR. They require a multi-faceted approach so that their reputation can be carefully managed in the age of cancel culture.
When Is It Too Early To Consider PR?
It is never too early to consider PR. That’s what Bianca told me when I quizzed her on the topic. But, of course, that doesn’t mean that you should rush out there and spend every penny of your limited budget on a PR agency.
It’s never too early for a business with a big marketing budget and the means to grow quickly. But if you’re a small business with an equally small budget, it makes more sense to try and do things yourself, rather than splashing the cash on an expert.
Once it begins to work for you and you experience some growth, you can start thinking about bringing experts on board and looking to launch some profitable campaigns.
Bianca also mentioned that some companies have moved too soon with regard to PR, trying to get their brand out there when it doesn’t have the capital or the operational fluency to facilitate such a move.
If you work with a good PR expert like Bianca, then you can never move too soon, as they will know what strategies to implement and how to structure these around your current growth and limitations. But that’s only if you have the budget for it, and that’s a big if for many small companies.
The PR Process
Assuming that you don’t want to work directly with a PR expert like Bianca Bucaram, what sort of process should you aim to replicate if you want to achieve the same success?
I asked Bianca this question during our discussion and she talked about how she structures her own campaigns and how this process can be replicated by influencers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners.
There are 6 steps involved. To make things a little easier to understand, let’s use the example of an influencer who is experiencing rapid growth and wants to establish a supplement company, not unlike the ones discussed in previous episodes with Joe Yoon and Nick Aldis.
Step One: Understand Your Value Proposition
What is your value proposition? What is unique about you, what do you offer that your customers need, and how does this set you apart from the rest?
In our example, we have built an audience of fitness fans who respect us for our transparency and honesty.
They acknowledge that we’re always going to tell them the truth and that any product we create will be 100% genuine, transparent, and free of fillers and harmful ingredients.
Our value proposition, therefore, is that we’re creating honest, healthy, and helpful supplements and are not simply chasing a quick buck.
It’s not just about finding a gimmick, though. Your value proposition has to be real. It has to be something that actually exists and something that you’re actually going to follow through with.
For instance, if our fitness channel was all about glitzy graphics, half-baked fitness programs, and content re-purposed/stolen from other creators, it wouldn’t make sense to position ourselves as honest and transparent.
Consumers are not stupid. They know who to trust and who to ignore, and if you position yourself as something you’re not and try to lie to the public, it’s going to backfire.
It doesn’t matter if they like you or not. People follow social media stars because they are entertained by them and like their content. That doesn’t mean they will trust anything they say, do, and sell.
In such cases, it would make more sense to create an accessible fitness program that is cheap and available to everyone. That way, the value proposition is not, “Complete honesty and transparency” but “Expert programs for everyday people”.
Be authentic, be realistic.
Step Two: Flood The Marketplace
Once we have established our value proposition, then it’s time to put it into use and flood the marketplace.
In our case, that means sending out new products to influencers and bloggers. Getting them in front of people who can promote the brand and put the name out there.
As influencers in this space, we’re probably going to use our contacts and our audience. We have fellow creators who we know and respect, and so we can give some products to them and either offer them cash, favors, or freebies in exchange.
Influencer marketing is a tricky business and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. As discussed with Aron Levin, some people will be happy with freebies, others want cash. It really all comes down to how many followers they have, what their engagement is like, and what they are getting elsewhere.
If you have a million followers and fantastic engagement, your inbox will be full of offers for cash and paid posts. You could probably make thousands of dollars for marketing campaigns, and so you’ll be cherry-picking the brands carefully.
As a brand, it’s naive to assume that they’ll be happy to review and promote your products for free because it only takes a few minutes of their time. It’s an attitude that many small businesses have, and they get angry when influencers ask for cash, but that’s the way it works.
If everyone else is offering $1,000 per day for your time, why would you give it away in exchange for a bottle of $30 protein powder?
Sometimes, you’ll get lucky, but only if you have a genuinely interesting product that is different from anything else on the market.
For instance, I have heard stories of clothing brands giving away freebies to presenters and reality TV stars, only for those celebs to fall in love with the quality, wear the clothes, and then be photographed doing so.
Influencers are marketers and advertisers. But they are also consumers, and they recognize and appreciate quality.
In our case, we may know a few people who are friendly with us and will promote our products for free. Maybe they will accept an exchange and promote us on the basis that we will do the same for their products when they are launched.
It doesn’t matter how you get the brand out there, as long as it remains true to your overall message and storytelling and puts your product in front of the people that matter.
Step Three: Get Feedback
Our supplements are out there. Our message is being spread and people are starting to sample the product and give their feedback. Now it’s time to stop, listen, and take heed, because that feedback will be essential to the growth of our business.
Growing businesses need reviews and testimonials. It’s the social proof that prospective customers look for before they commit to a purchase.
Many small business owners are scared of this feedback. No one wants to listen to criticism, especially when they have poured their hearts and souls into a product and are excited about its future.
When someone tells you that they don’t like your product, it’s a kick in the teeth, but you need that criticism, you need those reviews.
If we ask customers for their genuine opinions about our supplements, we might learn that our protein powder is too sweet, in which case we can reduce the sweeteners. We might discover that customers don’t like the sweetener or flavorings we use and would prefer something else.
When taking their feedback, we can ask them what changes they would make to our products and our range, and what they would like to see.
If a large number of them tell us that our “Hazelnut and Chocolate” powder would make more sense as a “Peanut Butter and Chocolate Brownie”, we can take that advice on board and change it. If they all insist that it would be great if we had a White Chocolate flavor, we could consider adding one of those.
Feedback is critical. It’s social proof, content, and qualitative research all bundled into one.
Bianca spoke about her sister’s story when mentioning the importance of feedback. She noted that this was the stage when they discovered the importance of recipes.
Customers requested them. They responded well to them, and so Kristina Bucaram pivoted to focus more on them. In doing so, she was able to create a massively successful branch of her business, and one that became a major component of the FullyRaw Kristina brand.
Step Four: Build Content
Content is key for SEO (see my interview with Neil Patel for more info) and advertising, but it’s also an essential part of any digital PR campaign.
Bianca recommends that you create two types of content: Evergreen and Topical.
The former can remain on your site and your social media pages for months and years to come. If it’s a blog, then you can expand upon it, update it, and keep going back to it. If it’s a video, you can turn it into many smaller pieces of content, using a model that I have discussed multiple times on this site, including in my Guide to Launching a Business in 2021.
If we go back to our example, evergreen content might cover the following:
- Videos on the ingredients used in our supplements and why they are unique.
- Articles on the practices used by the supplement industry and why they harmful and dishonest.
- General content relating to fitness, health, and supplementation.
As for topical content, we might write articles about the reopening of gyms after lockdown or post videos about the upcoming Mr. Olympia. It’s content that is relevant at that moment but stops being relevant fairly quickly.
Bianca used an example of a client who promotes products to help with Lupus, noting that that the evergreen content was the tips and advice that Bianca’s client provides year-long. These guides are all geared toward helping people who suffer from the condition—teaching them more about it, managing their symptoms, etc.,
The topical content, on the other hand, is the stuff that she released around Lupus Awareness Month.
In this example, and in our example of Mr. Olympia, that topical content can be repurposed a year later. It can be changed, tweaked, and uploaded again. Although you need to be very careful when doing this, because if your content is the reason that people are following you, that content needs to be good and fresh.
It’s not just about creating extensive video guides and blog articles, either. When it comes to digital PR, your content is anything that gets your message out there and stays true to your brand.
You’re also going to need press releases and press packages—anything that highlights your brand and your products in a way that can be easily digested by journalists, influencers, and publishers.
Step Five: Distribute
You have your reviews, testimonials, and content. Now it’s time to get it out there.
The distribution stage is where you start sending your content to blogs, influencers, TV shows, radio shows, and anyone else who will take it.
Some of this will happen naturally, but most of that push needs to come from you.
The individual inspiration stories you see on TV and read in newspapers are often there because a public relations expert like Bianca put it in front of the editors and journalists, either through direct contacts, press releases, or other means of publicity.
If someone appears on a morning chat show to promote their book and their harrowing story, it’s not because the show found their story on social media, did some digging, and then invited them on the show. It happens, but usually only after that individual has gone viral.
In the majority of cases, the invite comes after the author or their publicist has chased the TV show, put their story forward, and offered their time.
The same is true for newspapers, magazines, and radio shows. It applies to digital PR, as well, although it’s not always as common.
To get the attention of people who can make a difference, you need to create the content and send it out into the world.
“No PR is bad PR”. It’s a common saying in the world of advertising and big business, but it’s also completely irrelevant in an age of social media and cancel culture.
Sure, some bad PR can have a positive impact on sales, but it’s rare.
Let’s look at a few recent examples.
The pop star Sia got a lot of bad press for her film, Music. Arguably, that press helped to increase the sales, but only temporarily, and probably not enough to make it profitable.
The film got a lot of hate and returned a Box Office of $644,476 on a budget of $16 million. Sure, this was during the lockdown, when very few people were going to the cinema, but after all the negativity, it’s fair to assume that streaming services won’t be bidding high for the film.
It has also been trashed on review sites and won Sia a Golden Raspberry award. She’s a great singer and entertainer, but after this misstep, it’s unlikely that she’ll have a big career in film.
Actors, Actresses, YouTubers, and brands all saw their profits and exposure plummet in 2020 and 2021 as a result of being “canceled”, proving that there really is such a thing as bad PR, and it can be devastating.
In many of the above cases, the brands and individuals made a severe misstep or reacted badly to an event. But you don’t need to do something wrong to be on the receiving end of bad PR.
A number of years ago, there was a story about a woman who found a severed finger in a cup of Wendy’s chili. It horrified consumers and made many of them think twice about buying from the chain, but it was completely fabricated.
Not only did the chain lose tens of millions at the time, but there are still those who have a negative opinion of Wendy’s because of this story.
A lot of the work that PR experts do revolves around crisis management, whereby they react to bad situations to stop them from becoming worse.
It has never been more important, and a good PR expert can save a brand with an effective crisis management campaign.
But what happens if you don’t have Bianca on your team? What should you do if something negative happens and threatens to destroy your business?
The first step is for someone to come out and own responsibility. It’s important for this to happen early, as the public tends to get angry when companies hide from their mistakes and no one comes forward to admit fault.
The higher that person’s role within the company, the better. Ideally, it should be the CEO who comes forward, but it works for anyone who actually assumes a significant role and is not just being used as a scapegoat.
The whole point is to show that you care. If you made a mistake, show the public that you’re genuinely sorry.
Thinking of it in a personal context. If a co-worker makes a mistake that annoys you and causes you personal strife, you’ll be inclined to forgive them if they own up to it and apologize profusely.
On the flip side, if they pretend that nothing happened and continue with their lives as normal, you’re going to get angry and your opinion of them will be severely reduced.
By the same token, if they don’t apologize to you and simply ask a friend or manager to do it for you, you’ll be equally frustrated and angry.
In our example of the supplement company, it’s even more important to speak out quickly as we pride ourselves on honesty and transparency and would be going against our brand message if we hid from the truth and pretended that everything was okay.
Social media is a very important tool for controlling your narrative during an event like this. After all, politicians like Trump and Obama have used social media to build their political campaigns and earn their tickets to the White House. It has also been used by influencers to control negative press and turn the narrative in their favor after what should have been a career-destroying moment.
Not only are you in complete control on social media, but you can also use it to gauge how the public is responding in real time.
What’s more, journalists and media outlets use social media to keep an eye on these stories as they develop. They will read the posts that you make and use these to build their stories.
In the old days, journalists and broadcasters would contact the company directly and ask for a statement. It could take hours, it could take days, but they would wait and see. These days, they go straight to social media and bypass the company reps. You can still make that connection, but you don’t need to as you already have that direct link via sites like Facebook and Instagram.
Remember that when you speak to your customers through social media, you’re also speaking to media outlets and to the world.
It’s where traditional PR and digital PR combine.
It’s equally important to make sure that everyone in your company is on the same page.
They need to understand the message and the company’s vision, and they need to keep this in mind whenever they are responding to consumers or media outlets. It’s an aspect that many brands overlook, and the problem usually lies in the company’s weak narrative and storytelling, as well as the vague mission statements that they use.
The subject of mission statements is something that I have discussed multiple times in the past, including in a recent conversion with Jamie Mustard.
Simply put, if you need to reach for the piece of paper and read your mission statement aloud whenever someone asks about it, then it’s not strong, it’s not defined, and it’s not you.
In our example, we know that we’re an honest and transparent supplement company. We know what the goal of the company is, and we understand the ethos that runs through it. These things are integral to the brand, and so they feature in our promotions, in our branding, and throughout our storytelling.
It’s not a random sentence on some nonsense mission statement. It’s not something that we pretend to follow or something that we created just because a business course told us we needed a mission statement.
It’s something that we live and breathe, and that’s the way that it should be. If you have a strong mission statement and a powerful brand ethos, everyone in your company will know how to react during negative situations.
Avoiding Failures In Digital PR And Traditional PR
Bianca talked about some of the worst PR stories she remembers, picking up on some terrible crisis management and highlighting the risks of cancel culture. She notes how dangerous it is to speak out of turn and I added that the problem with digital PR is that you only have someone’s attention for 1.7 seconds on average.
It’s a short attention span, and even if they take the time to read or watch, they’ll still being very reactive and not always reading between the lines, which means influencers are always walking on eggshells when they express certain opinions.
It highlights the importance of checking with others before you post or react, especially if that post or reaction has any chance of causing offense. This is one of the reasons why digital PR has exploded in popularity over the last year or two, as people are warier of the damage that their opinions are doing and don’t want to end their careers with one slip-up.
Traditional PR is less reactive, but the rules still apply, and it also crosses over into the digital space. If you make a mistake on TV or radio, it’s going to be clipped and uploaded. Before you arrive back home to put your feet up and forget about your woes, that clip could have gone viral and before you know it, you have been canceled.
If you’re a reactive CEO who lets their emotions get the better of them, you probably shouldn’t be the one in control of your brand’s social media accounts. At the very least, you should relax and take a timeout before you post a heated response.
Bianca’s Advice For People Starting In The PR Industry
I asked Bianca what advice she would give to others seeking to follow in her footsteps and start working in the field of public relations.
Her advice was to, “Get your hands on everything that you can”.
She said that the most important thing a publicist can do is to be respectful and take constructive criticism from those around them.
You should be receptive to everything and appreciative of all the help that you receive, as others have a lot to teach you and can help you to reach your goals.
You don’t know everything, but if you listen, you can learn, improve, and do better. Whenever someone gives you the time of day, accept it, embrace it, and take everything they have to offer.
Bianca also stresses the importance of keeping in touch with your contacts and never letting 6 months pass without some kind of message or phone call. It shows that you care, and it reminds them that you’re there just in case they have any more projects to consider.
The great thing about entrepreneurs is that they’re always thinking about new promotions, products, and even businesses. If you keep in touch and show your support, they may decide to make a move on one of these projects and rope you in to help.
The $100,000 Question
I asked Bianca the $100,000 question at the end of our discussion.
“What is the single piece of advice you would give to people looking to benefit from public relations?”
It’s the advice that could earn you 6-figures of value, so it’s advice that you need to hear if you have a brand to promote.
Bianca’s answer was to, “Get your messaging in order”.
She added that if you can’t tell a story, there’s no reason to have a PR company behind you. It highlights the importance of storytelling and stresses the need to always have a message and a story behind you as a personal brand or business brand.
She also advises everyone to dream big and aim high!
About Bianca Bucaram
Bianca Bucaram is an award-winning public relations professional. She has been honored as PR News’ Rising Stars 30 & Under, Women in the Fast Lane by the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of commerce, and has also been recognized as one of the top female business professionals in Houston by the Houston Business Journal.
As a lead publicist at The Bucaram PR Group, Ms. Bucaram is a top-notch example of a young woman with natural publicist charm and charisma who uses her bilingual public relations skills to positively impact her local community and national audience for good. She has pioneered various cause-related public relations and marketing initiatives which have impacted Houston in a positive way. She is comfortable working across all genres both with traditional and grassroots public relations strategies while also thinking out of the box with creative marketing skills. She has made valuable connections in Television, Print Media, Digital Media promoting her clients in the music, fashion, sports, and sports marketing, and legal industries.
Through strategic planning, trend watching, and consistently building press and industry contacts, she has successfully placed stories in KPRC-2, ABC-13 KTRK, Huffington Post, CNBC, Hollywood Today Live, The Hallmark Home and Family Channel, CNN, CNN en Español, CultureMap, Houston Chronicle, Dubai Chronicles, PaperCity, LOCAL Magazine, Houston Business Journal, and many other broadcast and print mediums. Her expertise does not stop there, with an extended outreach of media professionals, Bianca prides herself on getting clients exposure in all areas of media from radio, to TV, to print, and more. Bianca also specializes in building community relations.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bbucaram (@bbucaram)