There is a process for successfully getting publicity about your business or organization. Publicity is no great mystery, just a thorough and strategic sales job. You are selling content to a publication or website who needs it to entice their readers. No publicist can guarantee a publication will print stories about your company because the publisher or editor ultimately controls the content of a publication. However, here is the method we recommend:
1. Know that publicity is really a sales job. Sure, there is some good strategy involved just like in sales. It’s about pitching your idea to get a publication to “buy" (print) your story or interview you as an expert in your field. This works best when you establish a relationship with the editor or publisher so they can trust the information you’re submitting. Relationships take time to develop. So, just like any sale, be sure to educate yourself about who your targeted publication markets are, what they want, plan your campaign and remember; “the sale is made in the follow up".
2. Determine how your publicity will support your marketing goals. Develop stories and the pitches on those subjects in a careful & strategic manner. Write compelling and educational stories that would interest the readers of the particular publication you are pitching.
3. Understand that editorial stories are NOT advertisements. Your story pitches cannot be advertisements for your companies. Advertising and editorial are two different entities in publishing.
4. Create a press kit. (see our flier on the elements needed for a press kit)
5. Make a list of all the publications you’d LIKE to be in, those you think your targeted market will read, or others who might be very interested in the content you have to offer. Include websites and other electronic media.
6. Do NOT spam one press release to all major media in your area. This is only done in extremely specific instances, otherwise it will backfire on you. Rather, select your media wisely and send your press release to those you know are interested.
7. Call the publications to ask for a media kit. Review their editorial calendar, read their publication over time to strategically find out what they are looking for. Database their contact information.
8. Identify all the columns in each targeted publication to whom your article is appropriate for submission. For example, if you are pitching a story about how business owners can best manage their IT services, pitch to the Technology editor as well as the small business editor. If you have new products unique to the marketplace pitch to the “product review" editor—note: this is unique to specific industries and not to be confused with advertising. *A
9. Write a query to the Editor(s) or Columnists/Writers. In one paragraph pitch the overview of your idea to make it compellingly interesting so they’ll want to “buy" it and understand how their readers will gain value from it. *B
10. Submit queries or stories the way the publication wants to receive information—via email, fax or mail. A query is simply an inquiry to the editor asking if they would be interested in what you have to write about and asking for guidelines. Where possible, include your press kit with your actual press release or story submission.
11. Be prepared to write (or have pre-written) the story you are pitching because in the media, speed is everything. If an editor finally does call to say they’d like your submission, you should be prepared to get it to them in one day. *C
12. Create a list of 5-10 articles you could prepare quickly so if a publication calls to request an article, you can respond promptly. Be sure the topics support your marketing goals without being (subversive) advertising.
13. Follow up as appropriate. Every publication is different, so it’s best to seek professional help with this so you don’t harm your reputation by making common mistakes. My rule of thumb is that “In the follow up is the sale". It is hard, takes time and is necessary to develop a relationship. *D
14. Track all progress on a database, to help you note action items and results. The most successful campaigns are developed over time (remember, it takes time to develop a relationship) so should be tracked to help you remember, be consistent and efficient.
If you’ve not directed your own publicity campaign before, we recommend you get expert advise at these stages of this process;
*A. review of selected targeted publications,
*B. review or editing your query and pitch the first time,
*C. evaluation or editing of your story—get an expert viewpoint to ensure you’re on target,
*D. short training session on how to conduct follow up, what to track
WE CAN HELP
If you do not have the time or inclination to do this work yourself, give us a call—that’s what we do. We help clients create professional press kits and publicity campaigns to further their marketing goals and get the recognition they deserve. Our services include creating all elements in a press kit, strategic planning for a publicity campaigns, integrating marketing and publicity, selecting a strategic media list to target, and follow through to net the return.
About The Author
As a former film & television director, producer, and manager, Allison rebelled against misleading, pushy marketing by consulting with businesses on “Marketing as a Spiritual Practice". Clients include United Airlines, Apple Computers, Chevron, ABC-TV, HBO-TV, advertising agencies, and hundreds of other smaller businesses.
Allison Bliss Consulting combines an expert team of seasoned professionals from the fields of advertising, promotional design & copywriting, event and television production, who offer Fortune 500 companies and entrepreneurs an integrated range of do-it-yourself marketing products & cusomized hands-on services.