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Publicity

Epublicity is synonymous with the word trust. Marketers have proven over time, trust can be built from repetition and through recommendations from trusted second and third party agents. For example, people are greatly influenced by things they read, see, and hear on newspapers, magazines, and on television. The marketing message carries power because people know(assume) that what they heard or saw was not influenced by paid advertising.

What is the general goal of a public relations department? The main objective of a PR department is to establish mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and the public. It is PR professional's job to create substantial reasons for journalists to believe that the products or services are worth writing about. This raises another question. What do columnists consider newsworthy?

News Versus Non-Newsworthy

Announcing to publications or corporate news outlets that you just launched or changed your web site has not been newsworthy since 1995. Unless, of course your web site added a section that sells flying cars. The point is, if you're an entrepreneurial organization, you may need to work with a keen and marketing mindset to get quality publicity. Publicly traded companies can make routine changes and still draw interest from corporate news centers. In most cases you will be able to evaluate whether or not your news is newsworthy by finding something that is unique to the industry and marketplace. It should be a compelling story that describes benefits. If you can't come up with something along these lines it is not worth the your time to write or send it.

A worthy news story has a good hook with human interest, local pride, or a celebrity spin on it. It can also be humorous, exciting, or have irony. Here are some possible hooks for online entrepreneurs:

  • political issues
  • public interest
  • report on findings from a survey
  • company milestones
  • strategic partnerships
  • controversial
  • use a celebrity

Plan of Attack

No matter what size your organization is, you can take advantage of this marketing activity. Here are some guidelines you can use to build your own epublicity campaign.

  • press consciousness
  • knowing your audience
  • creating a media contact list
  • writing an effective news release
  • distributing press releases


PRESS CONSCIOUSNESS

One of the first things you need to understand is the relationship between publicists and journalists. Theoretically, it is a mutually beneficial scenario, upon which they both can utilize each other to provide the public with the most up-to-date information possible. However, when it comes to power, journalists have the bulk of it because they hold the pen.

In addition, if a journalist calls a publicist for information, they expect them to drop everything and serve their needs. Unfortunately, this does not always hold true when a publicist needs help from a journalist.

Reporters are always looking for "hot topic" stories and most of them don't mind if they ruffle a few feathers to get one. One hint; don't ever say anything to press, if you don't want it printed. "Off the record" is a distant memory.

KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE

It was mentioned earlier that you must have a plan before you can execute an effective publicity campaign. It is critical to the formation of your plan that you have a strong knowledge of your audience.

The inchoate stage of your plan is identifying who will be visiting and using your company's web site. Also, you need to find out what other online and offline mediums your audience uses. After investigation and research you might consider utilizing more than just Internet related means to reach your audience. For example, if some of your potential customers sell accounting and tax services. You probably would get better results to reach this type of customer by publicizing your site to an accounting magazine rather than web marketing web site like Clickz.com.

The next important step after you find appropriate publications, is to locate a journalist who would be interested in writing about your company's story. If you would like to be labeled as an amateur then send a press kit to every editor on the list you find. Obviously, news organizations are like any other, they are internally specialized. It is wise to read through the publication or site you are targeting so you can cater your message to fit their needs of the right person.

One hint to help you in your PR efforts is to develop relationships with writers before you distribute your press releases. As you get to know them, they will give you insights regarding their preferences and interests.

A term that may be helpful for you to know as you deal with the press is the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), commonly known as embargo. Theoretically, it means that the information you sent to the journalist will not be published until a specified date. Most journalists will keep within the parameters you set, however there are a few of those that are exemptions to this rule.

CREATING A MEDIA CONTACT LIST

Most writers make themselves available through e-mail. As you read articles about important topics in your industry, you will need to keep a database of e-mail addresses you find in their bylines or bios.

Your database should include:

  • Date
  • Name
  • Publication
  • Area of interest
  • E-mail address
  • Lead Time (Most editors have various amounts of times to finish a story)

You could buy a media list, but there is a good chance that list has been used and spammed. Experts suggest that it is more important to have a few good contacts than a lot of bad ones. In other words, it would be better to send 50 e-mails to people who are interested in receiving your message than 200 e-mails that will ultimately be sent to the trash.

Outsourcing

One avenue you might consider is outsourcing a professional public relations firm. Since they already have a lot of connections and relationships in the industry it could help you get a jump-start in promoting your company. However, you need to do some research on the company before you hire them. Here are some companies you might want to consider: www.pressreleasenetwork.com and www.emage-emarketing.com.

Also, it might be beneficial for you to research some media directories. They charge a small fee but the current information they provide regarding journalists and publications is well worth the small sum. The most popular media directory is located out of Boston they can be found at www.medimap.com.

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