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How to be a Kick-Butt Publicity Hound
Table of Contents
|How to Use This Book
About the Authors
Chapter 1: What's in it for you
Chapter 2: Defining your publicity goals
Chapter 3: What the media want
Chapter 4: How to dovetail your “needs” with the media’s “wants”
Chapter 5: How to identify story ideas about
you or your business
Chapter 6: All About News Releases
Chapter 7: How to Pitch Ideas to Reporters
Chapter 8: How to Form Relationships with Media People
Chapter 9: How to Prepare for Your Interview
Chapter 10: How to Get and Give Great Radio Interviews
Chapter 11: Tips for TV
Chapter 12: How to Write Articles for Other Publications
Chapter 13: Print Newsletters and E-zines
Chapter 14: How to Write Great Letters to the Editor and Opinion Columns
Chapter 15: Contests: A Publicity Magnet
Chapter 16: How to use Polls, Surveys and White Papers
Chapter 17: How to Piggyback off Holidays & Anniversaries
Chapter 18: The Value of Public Speaking for Publicity
Chapter 19: 29 Publicity Tips for Authors and Publishers
Chapter 20: Publicity Tips for Consultants
Chapter 21: How to Become a Celebrity
Chapter 22: Media Kits on a Shoestring
Chapter 23: All About Photos
Chapter 24: Off-the-Beaten Path Ideas That Work
Chapter 25: Use a Signature File
Chapter 26: Recycle Your Publicity
Chapter 27: The Media’s Pet Peeves
Chapter 28: More Resources to Help You
Chapter 29: Parting Thoughts
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this sound like you?
can’t understand why the business reporter at your local newspaper has
quoted your competitor in five separate stories but hasn’t called you
company sends out more than two dozen news releases every year about new
employees and promotions, but they result in little more than a few
lines of type.
12-page speech your boss wrote when he spoke at the local Rotary Club
luncheon would have made an excellent column for the local business
magazine. But after you mailed it to the editor, you never heard a word.
your attempts at media coverage have fallen flat, quit grumbling and
start taking a proactive approach to free publicity by identifying
interesting, compelling story ideas the media need. Yes, NEED.
Newspapers, magazines and trade publications have hundreds of thousands
of column inches to fill. TV and radio stations have hundreds of hours
of news and community interest programs they must broadcast. The number
of media outlets is greater than ever, and competition is fierce for
advertising dollars, viewers and subscribers. The secret to savvy media
relations is knowing exactly what they want, then giving it to them.
are tickler questions designed to help you identify the best story ideas
within your company or organization:
your company doing anything unique, or different than your competitors?
Examples: A professional speaker who gives a quirky, memorable
free gift to every meeting planner who hires her. A web site company
that gives its customers discount coupons good for a web site update for
every referral a customer sends. An agency that buys creative toys for
its employees to use during brainstorming sessions to get their own
creative juices flowing.
THE LOCAL ANGLE
you the local angle to a national or regional event? During the war in
Kosovo, many local newspapers and TV stations ran stories about people
in their own communities who kept in touch with their relatives in the
war zone. During the Columbine shootings in Colorado, newspapers
interviewed local child psychologists and counselors who offered tips on
how parents can spot warning signs in their own children.
PIGGYBACK ON A NEWS EVENT
severe rains in Milwaukee a few years ago, a Minnesota company got
several minutes of free advertising on a Milwaukee radio station by
talking to the drive-time radio host about a special pump that removes
standing water and moisture in the air. The host interviewed a company
representative and gave out the company’s toll-free number.
PIGGYBACK ON TRENDS
you sell a product or service that ties into a national trend? A credit
counseling agency might offer themselves as a source for stories about
the whopping credit card debt wracked up by college students. A
non-profit agency that advocates safety for women can promote its
community classes by offering the media tips on how businesswomen can be
less susceptible to theft of laptop computers in crowded places like
PIGGYBACK ON A HOLIDAY
you doing something different on a particular holiday? Are you a
management consultant who can suggest ways that companies can keep their
employees productive during the holidays? Have you determined that
it’s more efficient for your business to simply close down during the
week between Christmas and New Year’s? If you’re of Irish descent
and give all your employees a half day off on St. Patrick’s Day, that
story might interest the media. Remember that the week between Christmas
and New Year’s is the slowest news week of the year, and an excellent
time to seek coverage. A Wisconsin company got a six-minute story on the
local TV station after it announced at the annual Christmas party that
every employee was being treated to a trip to Disney World.
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TELL THE MEDIA ABOUT TRENDS
you spotted a new trend in your industry? Let the media know. Many
accountants, for example, are becoming certified as investment
counselors. If it’s a trend a reporter is interested in, don’t be
surprised if they interview you for the story.
OFFER FREE ADVICE
advice can you offer that will help someone else solve their problems?
Tell reporters they can call on you for advice when writing stories
about your area of expertise. Give them specific examples of how you
help people save time and money.
WRITE HOW-TO ARTICLES
of many newspapers, magazines and trade publications want articles that
tell their readers how to do something such as get out of debt,
discipline their children, have a safer work environment, set up a home
office, or acquire a business loan. Think of the number one problem your
customers face, then write a how-to article about it. If it is printed,
try to recycle the article for a different publication.
TAKE A STAND ON ISSUES
there a local, state or national industry or political issue that you
lobby for, or that you feel strongly about? Find the reporters who cover
that issue and share your thoughts with them. If, for example, your
trade group is supporting local gun control legislation, call and offer
to comment on the issue.
PUBLICIZE AN UPCOMING EVENT
you sponsoring an event such as classes, an open house, a free
demonstration, or a fun event? Don’t just send a news release. Think
of something visual that ties into the event. Then call your local TV
station and ask if they are interested in doing a story a day or two
before. Coverage before the event helps spark interest and boost attendance.
are you using technology in interesting or unique ways? Have you found a
way to draw lots of traffic to your web site—with resulting orders?
Are you using the latest technology during your speaking engagements? Is
your sales force using technology to stay in touch with existing
customers and seek out new ones?
THE LABOR SHORTAGE
are you attracting and keeping qualified employees? By letting them work
from home? By recruiting in places like Fort Lauderdale during spring
break? By setting up trust funds for children of employees who stay
longer than a year? By offering casual day every day of the week? The
labor-shortage is a red-hot topic, and demographers predict that it will
become even hotter.
the type of clothing you wear, the home you live in, your hobbies, your
relationships with your family, the food you eat, and where you travel
on vacation say something unusual about you? These stories are ideal for
lifestyle sections, food pages, travel pages and special interest
magazines. Even though the articles are not necessarily
business-related, the reporter most likely will ask you what you do for
a living, and that’s a chance to plug your company or organization,
particularly if it ties into the reason they are writing. (Example: You
speak internationally and have an extensive collection of wine you have
bought during your travels. This would be a GREAT story for food page
editors, and it would publicize the fact that you are a professional
ALLIANCES AND PARTNERSHIPS
your organization formed an interesting alliance or partnership with
another business or non-profit? Call the business reporter and share the
information. Be willing to explain the results you expect to see from
such an arrangement. And be sure your partner is also willing to speak
with a reporter.
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TALK ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS
are the three biggest business problems you are facing? Find out the
name of the reporters who cover your industry. Then share the
information with them. Who knows? Someone might read your story and call
you with a solution you might not otherwise have known about.
TALK ABOUT YOUR MISTAKES
are the biggest you have made, and how would you advise other people
from not making the same ones? Don’t be embarrassed. Everyone makes
mistakes. And if you’re willing to discuss yours, there’s a good
chance the media will be willing to write about you.
POLLS AND SURVEYS
you taking a poll or survey, either among your customers or among the
public? Homewood Suites, a Texas hotel chain, got great publicity from
results of a survey that asked guests what they do in hotel rooms.
Almost one in five respondents said they jump on the bed. Iams pet food
company surveyed its customers about their relationship with their pets.
An overwhelming 91 percent of the people polled admitted saying “I
love you” to their pets. In addition, 63 percent of respondents sleep
with their pets at their sides. Results of the poll were released
several weeks before Valentine’s Day. (Brilliant!) How about taking a
poll asking your customers about the most unusual way they use your
product or service?
you thought about sponsoring a clever contest? To celebrate its 100th
anniversary, OshKosh B’Gosh launched a six-month nationwide search for
the oldest pair of bib overalls. Thrifty Rent-a-Car sponsors an annual
Honeymoon Disasters Contest. Entries result in amusing feature stories
printed in major newspapers and magazines throughout the country. For
additional publicity mileage, the company announces results near
Valentine’s Day, giving the media a perfect story that piggybacks on a
THE FOUR SEASONS
about story ideas that tie into the four seasons. Has your company found
a way to keep cool or cut utility costs? Suggest it during the dog days
of summer. Hospitals, clinics and medical schools can offer the media a
list of experts to pass along helpful tips on how to avoid getting colds
and flu during the winter. Lawn care companies can share tips on how to
prepare your lawn during the spring.
CELEBRATING AN ANNIVERSARY?
fact that your company is celebrating an anniversary or birthday isn’t
news. But it would be more enticing to the media if you could tie it in
to a clever event. A button manufacturer published a lavish photo
history of the button—including its uses—on shoes, clothing,
furniture and accessories. An accounting firm celebrated its centennial
by publishing a giveaway book of commissioned original renditions of
what select artists thought it meant to be 100. A national rental car
company rented out its fleet of cars for free one day.
CREATE TIP SHEETS
you write a tip sheet that explains how to solve a particular problem,
or how to do something? It includes helpful free advice. Topics sound
like this: 11 Ways to Snag More Business from Your Web site, The 7
Secrets of Profitable Self-Promotion, 9 Ways to Save Money on Insurance
Premiums. Each tip sheet should have a short introduction of a sentence
or two. At the end, print a paragraph that states the name of the
author, the author’s credentials, and contact information such as
phone number, e-mail address and web site URL. Think of the Number One
problem your customers are facing, and offer tips on how to solve it.
CHANGING YOUR FOCUS?
your company changing its focus, switching product lines, expanding
services, entering new niche markets or making any major changes in the
way it does business? If so, let the media know. Be willing, however, to
talk about the reasons behind the change. If you’re trying a new
product line because the first one flopped, be willing to say so.
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