How to nab free PR and glam photoshoot for your start-up!

Would you like PR for your fabulous food business that involves an all expenses paid trip to London, glam makeover, photoshoot, write up about your biz AND get paid for the experience?! Find out how my Smoothie Wajeeha Husain nabbed this amazing bit of responsive PR…

The Smoothie Bar is the perfect place to do your own PR in 10 mins a day for only £49pm, but even I was surprised when my Smoothie Wajeeha picked up this fantastic piece of PR so soon after joining us. (She also stars in the BBC 2 series ‘Top of the Shops with Tom Kerridge‘ in episode 3.)

After enjoying a thoroughly pampered day out, Wajeeha was featured in The Sun within a double page spread (read by 6.1 million people per week) and landed a slot on their website (visited by 25 million readers per month) in an article that talked all about her food business. And if that wasn’t enough, she was paid for the whole experience too!

Sounds amazing right?

Well, once Wajeeha had shared all the behind the scenes gossip with me, I knew it would make a great post to share with you foodies as we’d love you guys to experience this too!

Chocolateeha

Wajeeha runs a fabulous chocolate business called Chocolateeha. She is an absolute pro at responsive PR and has been featured in The Telegraph, Forbes and The Sun within the first few months of joining The Smoothie Bar.

How?

Without fail, she logs in for 10 minutes a day to look at the journo requests I’ve sorted through and posted in The Smoothie Bar, and follows up any that could be a good fit for herself, her chocolate bars or her business. This day was no different, so I’m going to let Wajeeha tell you what happened from here…

Wajeeha Husain

“Hi everyone, this was my first experience of getting PR that involved having a photo shoot, so I’m going to share the process with you in the hope that it helps you to get one in the future! This is the tweet Charlotte posted in The Smoothie Bar which was the start of this amazing experience:

Journo Request

I was one of 18 responses to this tweet but I’d already learned from Charlotte that it doesn’t matter if you’re first, last or somewhere in the middle, only the journalist ever knows exactly what they’re looking for in a person or story. You should ALWAYS respond as you might be just the one they’re looking for!

If you sound like you have an interesting story to share, they will ask you for more information and even if they don’t use it for the story they are working on right now, they often file it for the future.

This was my tweet in response to hers – you’ve only got 280 characters to say something that peaks the journo’s interest or curiosity, so using phrases like ‘follow my dreams and passion’ and ‘transformed my life’ can really help.

Another thing I’ve learned is to always read the request carefully as it’s easy to carried away talking about something in your business that you WANT to tell the journalist about, but it isn’t actually the thing that they want to know about!

Journo Request Response
As you can see, there’s no mention of it being for The Sun or that it involves a photo shoot, it just sounded like a great PR opportunity.

#SmoothiePRTip Journalists often leave out the mention of a makeover and fee to ensure they get an interesting story first, rather a person who just fancies some paid pampering. Remember, no matter how lovely a journalist seems, their top priority is always to find stories that their readers want to read about.

What did you write in your email?

I didn’t get a direct reply from Claire to my tweet, but one change I made as soon as I joined The Smoothie Bar was to add my email address into my Twitter bio, as I know that the easier you are to get hold of, the more likely you are to be contacted. Claire saw my answer, looked at my bio and emailed me to ask for more details about my story.

This was my reply:

Hello Claire,

Please find below a summary of my 2017 journey.

On December 31st 2016 at around 11.58pm I was sat making chocolate and dreaming that 2017 will be the year I follow my dreams and my passion

After struggling through 2016, that was a confusing and horrible year I decided to stop listening to other people and put myself first. On New Year’s Eve, I made a promise to myself – Not to let anyone make me feel bad about myself and to feel confident about the decisions I make.

Coming from an Asian background, success and happiness are defined by the things you have in life and not the way you feel about you. I knew it was time to change this way of thinking. Once I set this as a resolution, along came the other things, I quit my job after 8 years in the automotive world and do what I love.

I attended Start-up 2017 in London in January to inspire myself about starting a new business. I went there thinking I can do this too. I can now proudly say that I have been invited to Start Up 2018 to be part of a panel to talk about my experiences of starting a Food Business.

I launched in business in Sept 2017 and have sold over 1000 chocolate bars. I have inspired others to do the same by sharing my story. 2018 brings many more days filled with success because of setting myself this New Years Resolution. It only took a shift in my way of thinking to turn around 2017.

I never believed in setting goals or dreams because I never completed them. I believe in setting visions and changing your way of thinking.

If you dream it, you can do it!
Wajeeha Husain

Claire called within 10 minutes of her sending me the email, and this gave me an unexpected, but brilliant opportunity to share lots more info in the hope of selling it to her even more.

I thought it was interesting that she asked if I was worried about it being in The Sun, as we all know it’s really popular, but not always for the right reasons. Because I had already decided that the chance to be featured nationally was worth the exposure, it wasn’t something that bothered me at all, but it did feel good that she wanted to make sure I was happy with it.

Wajeeha Chocolate

At the end of the call, I felt like I’d built really good rapport with her and she asked me to send over some photos of me and the products which I did. Not long afterwards, she came back and said I’d been accepted as one of the stories in the feature.

How does the all expenses paid thing work?

As I live in Newcastle and the shoot was in London, Claire sent over the booking details I needed to pick up the train ticket that was waiting for me at the station on the morning of travel. It was an early start as the train was at 7am and when I arrived in London around 11am, there was a driver waiting to take me to the shoot location. I didn’t have to worry about paying for anything on the day as everything was provided for me.

What happened about your makeup and hair?

When I arrived, I was really nervous and excited. I met the photographer and he immediately made me feel at ease by explaining the process of what was about to happen. Then I met the stylist, two make up artists and a runner plus the other two ladies being featured who were also nervous (which made me feel better).

I was a bit worried about the make-up as I have Asian skin and know how tricky it can be to find a good foundation. However, one of the make-up artists was also Asian and she completely understood my worries.

Instead of removing the makeup I was already wearing, she looked at it and then just touched it up so that it looked a bit more ‘softened’. Although when she’d finished it felt like I was wearing lots of makeup, I trusted her judgement when she told me that it was what was needed for the camera. She had given me a bright lipstick colour which was way out of my comfort zone but she also asked me how I felt about it, so I didn’t feel forced into wearing it, even though I wasn’t 100% sure!

When it came to my hair they asked me how I wanted it styled. I just told them to do whatever and they curled it and made it look very pretty. I often struggle with my hair as it’s very thick and hard to tame, however, the hairstylist knew how to handle my hair and I ended up learning a few skills from her!

What was in the wardrobe?

I then went to the wardrobe and had a session with the stylist. She asked me what I usually like to wear and what my own style was. I had talked to Claire on email beforehand to let her know that I like to wear clothing that covers my arms and legs, and she had passed this on to the stylist, who offered me lots of options.

Coincidently, all three of us being featured were the same 10-12 dress size, so I was lucky to get first pick at the rails! I looked through the rack of about eight outfits (for all of us) and tried a couple of things on to find what I liked best.

To be honest, I was quite surprised that they were all Primark clothes and the rail was full of bright colours, so although it wasn’t quite my usual style, I wore the outfits that I felt most comfortable in. They had asked for my shoe size in advance so there was a selection of heels I could choose from too.

What happened during the shoot?

I was up first and the photographer took 15 minutes worth of single shot pictures of me.

I didn’t know the first thing about posing, so he directed me on different ways to stand and although I found it a bit unnatural, I went with it. I got to look at pictures as we went along so that I could see if I need to smile more, or look more relaxed.

The photographer was really good at making me laugh so that really helped me to feel comfortable.

We all had another outfit change before the group shots and every so often, he’d ask for a hair or makeup touch up – don’t laugh, but it really did make me feel like a celebrity when this happened!

We felt really pampered and then we had lunch together and it was really funny listening to stories from the photographer about all the celebs he’s shot. It was here that I found out that we were all going to be paid £100 fee for our stories, which was a very happy and unexpected bonus.

The whole shoot took about four hours and there was a taxi waiting to whisk me off to the station when we were finished.

What happened afterwards?

Claire kept in touch with me and after the shoot and texted to ask how it went. I wasn’t expecting this and thought it was really nice that she would check that everything was ok. She told me that she’d be writing the story soon and would go over it with me before it went live. A week later she contacted me and read my piece of the article.

Although most of it was great, there were a few facts I wasn’t happy with such as I hated my old corporate job, (I didn’t), or that I wasn’t allowed to eat chocolate as a child (it made it sound much stricter than it was). She changed these bits and I signed it off.

There was a break over Christmas time so to thank her for all of her help, I sent Claire some of my chocolate bars and she tweeted out a picture to her 800 followers.
Claire Tweet

The day it went live…

I followed up after Christmas to find out when it would be published. As it’s not her decision as to the actual date of publication, she found out that it was coming up soon and asked me for some more photos. She contacted me the day it went live in the paper and online here, and also texted afterwards to see how I felt about the finished piece.

I was really touched that Claire took time to keep in touch with me throughout the whole process, despite juggling lots of other stories at the same time.

She even loved the chocolate that I’d sent her so much that she bought more!

Wajeeha in The Sun Newspaper

Wajeeha in the double page spread

Although I was in bed with flu on the day it came out, I splashed it all across social media and gave both Claire and Charlotte a special shout out as, without them, I wouldn’t have enjoyed such an amazing day and got a great piece of PR for Chocolateeha too.”

Social Media

Wajeeha in The Sun online

Final food for thought…

Thanks, Wajeeha, for sharing your brilliant day and I can’t wait to add your next piece of responsive PR to my Wall of Fame!

I hope Wajeeha has inspired all of you fabulous foodies to go out and grab your next bit of PR. And don’t forget, if you want a daily list of journo requests looking for businesses, products and people just like you, come and join us in The Smoothie Bar to do your own responsive PR in 10 minutes a day for only £49pm!

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