In the 21st century, the internet has become a crowded place. Gaining publicity for your work has become tough since there is too much competition out there. In this competitive era, startups and companies can only hope to be successful if they effectively leverage the power of marketing and public relations. I recently had a chance to interview Nabeel Ahmad, a 21-year-old entrepreneur who has been dominating the marketing and PR space for a while now.
Nabeel Ahmad is the founder and CEO of Vertabyte, which is a full-service digital agency that partners with clients to drive their business outcomes. He is also the founder of The Influencer Factory, which is a PR agency that specializes in strategic media placements. Over the years, Nabeel has partnered with many influencers, entrepreneurs, startups, and established companies and has successfully gotten them featured on major publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, The Huffington Post, Inc Magazine, and more. During my conversation with him, he had a lot of great insights to share about marketing and PR that would be helpful for anyone interested in this field. Here are some bits from our discussion.
Tell us about The Influencer Factory. How did you come up with this idea?
Nabeel Ahmad: The Influencer Factory is a public relations agency where our main expertise is getting our clients featured on top publications. I have been in the marketing industry for a long time now and have successfully executed many marketing campaigns. However, one day, I realized that digital marketing had its limitations, and I became aware of the importance of strategic media placements. If you’re selling a service or launching a startup, and you receive coverage and validation from top publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc Magazine, etc., then your importance and worth in the market goes up exponentially. Not to mention all the exposure and traffic that brings. Once I understood the importance of media placements, I knew what I had to do. Over the past few years, I have spent a lot of time building relationships with journalists and editors at top publications, which has allowed me to establish myself in a key position in the PR industry.
Why is PR important?
Nabeel Ahmad: PR is extremely important for numerous reasons. You cannot expect to get to the top of your industry if the world doesn’t know who you are. In order for the world to know who you are, and to perceive the right picture of who you are, PR is essential. Strategic media placements can help you get business exposure, strengthen your brand, and become a known authority in your field. PR is the foundation for so many important things. You need press to get verified on social media. You need press to build a Wikipedia page. You need press if you want people to take you seriously. Top companies and brands realize the importance of PR, which is why they are investing heavily in it.
Is PR as important for individual influencers as it is for companies?
Nabeel Ahmad: Absolutely! This is the era of social media. It’s absolutely essential for influencers to build a personal brand, and there is no better way to improve your brand credibility than to have strong press. Once an influencer receives the validation of top publications, that’s a strong boost for their personal brand. It’s totally worth it for influencers to invest in PR. They can then use their features as leverage when they are trying to sell a service, or pitching to brands for sponsorships.
What is the best PR-related advice that you can give to our readers?
Nabeel Ahmad: PR isn’t that tough if you truly understand the underlying philosophy behind it. First, you need to break it down to basic principles. Everyone needs something. If you are able to fulfill someone’s need, if you can provide value to them, they will be willing to help you out in return. This is one of the most fundamental principles in life and business. Journalists at top publications do not have an endless supply of content. They are looking for a hot new story to cover or something interesting they can write about. If you are able to somehow provide them immense value, and also a great story to cover, then why would they refuse you? So, the best advice I can give about PR would be to understand this basic principle and apply it to every connection you make. Reach out to journalists and editors, talk to them about what value you can provide to them; not the other way around. Once you master this principle, it’s just about execution after that. It’s all about having the right connections. People think PR is a numbers game. It’s not. It’s about targeting the right person with the right pitch, and then providing them value to get what you want. That’s how you win in this game.
What is the best way to reach out to a journalist to pitch a story?
Nabeel Ahmad: There are usually multiple channels you can use to connect with journalists. However, it’s best to avoid trying to connect with them on a platform where they have too many followers, because then you would risk your message not getting noticed. So, for example, if the journalist’s Twitter has thousands of followers, you could try reaching out to them via Facebook or LinkedIn instead. The other option is to connect with them via email. You can also use an email tracking tool to see if your email gets opened.
How do we know if a story is good enough to be featured in top publications?
Nabeel Ahmad: After trying hundreds of pitches, I have learned that it’s not always about the story. It’s also about how you present it, and which specific key points you focus on. Any story can be made feature-worthy if you present it using the right angle. Over the years, I have learned to take apart any story, figure out key points that might be interesting to specific journalists, and then use those key points as the main theme of the pitch. By doing this, I have had great results. This obviously requires studying various journalists, researching the kind of content they usually write about, and then crafting your pitch in accordance with that. Getting your pitch accepted is mostly about heavy research, knowing how to present the story using the right angle, and also simultaneously providing value to the journalist.
What do you think you do better than most people? How are you able to do it?
Nabeel Ahmad: Research. I research a lot. I pick a topic or field that interests me and become obsessed with it. I then spend hours and hours researching it till I master it. This is true for general things, like PR and marketing, or about any specific client’s case that I get. Almost all of the time, all that heavy research pays off.
What are some of the best books you’ve ever read?
- Think and Grow Rich
- How to Win Friends and Influence People
What do you think is the most important trait to achieve immense success?
Nabeel Ahmad: Hard work. It’s not even a question. You can’t win if you don’t work hard. The hardest worker is always going to beat the talented guy who doesn’t work. Graveyards are full of talented people who didn’t achieve anything big in life. Of course, if you are able to combine hard work with talent, then success is guaranteed.
What’s the best way for our readers to reach you?
Nabeel Ahmad: Anyone can connect with me on Facebook @nabeelahmad101, or on Instagram @nabeelahmad19.