Climbing the stairs at a secret London address, my colleagues next to me, contract in hand, things were getting pretty stressful.
We were about to meet one of the original Dragons, someone who I would end up chairing a press event for a few years later but for now, someone who was intent on ignoring me.
It wasn’t going well.
We were made to lurk at the other end of the room whilst the Dragon consulted his paperwork.
Clue number one, “his”.
It would be the first but not my last encounter with the fabled Dragons.
In fact, the tale stretches back at least a decade.
I’ve discussed walking barefoot in the garden with a really nice Dragon. That one told me that I’m NOT as tall as one of them and if you’ve met me, that doesn’t leave many!
I’ve even flagged down a taxi for one of them on New Year’s Eve in the Canary Islands.
The queue was horrendous, I was next but this reputed “monster” was getting hounded by hunters of the autographic kind, so I stepped in as a white knight in shabby army (it was 1am and wine had been taken OK!) and ushered him and his brood to relative safety.
My mum and stepfather even turned down significant funding on the show a few years back.
Ask me about it sometime.
I’ve also met Sara Davies who was fascinating, telling the story of how her PR guy got her on Strictly and how it led to the Dragons’ Den and just recently, the incredible Sarah Willingham.
Sarah was great to hear from and very open, discussing everything from curry to cocktails, investing to imposter syndrome and everything in between.
The lure of the Dragons guarding their hoard of riches still makes for great TV but when the topic comes up in conversations with my clients and prospects, the treasure they seek is not the cash, more so the the kudos.
They feel it will be the “tipping point” for their brand.
Now, it might well be but the question is, which way?
There is no doubt that appearing on Dragons’ Den could well be the making of a business.
However, if that is the case, we know that it can also be the breaking.
So what about the inbetween?
What if you DON’T get the cash, can you still get the kudos?
I would say absolutely YES.
It is all about leverage, something that far too many people forget when they run PR campaigns.
Imagine pitching a national reporter with your new widget like this:
‘I see you write about widgets, we’ve got a widget, a lovely widget, a widget we have got’.
Those of a certain vintage will recall these immortal lines from the John Smiths advert.
The fact is, far too many businesses pitch the media like this.
Now try adding this magic ingredient to the pitch;
‘I see you write about widgets. Did you see our widget on Dragons’ Den last night? As you will see, we’ve got a widget, a lovely widget, a widget we have got’.
Bottom line, the show and the exposure lends huge credibility to your brand and your pitch, assuming you don’t make a total widget of yourself.
However, this approach can be done without the need for a thorough roasting or even light grilling in the den.
The media game is all about trust.
If you’ve been featured somewhere before, that is all part of your media arsenal. It means you know your onions, you are a safe pair of hands and that other reporters have less of a chasm to cross when deciding whether to feature you.
That is why folk like me create Media Packs and Media Pages for clients. They are basically a round-up or resume of what you can offer to the press value wise and act like a resume when we pitch you.
Back in yonder years, “Here be Dragons” served as a warning about exploring uncharted territory. If you need a map, drop me a line, I might even tell you about when I was ignored by a Dragon and what happened next.