“If You Want an Audience, Start a Fight.” Irish Proverb
The saying goes there’s no such thing as bad publicity. And one of the ways you can keep your company’s name in view is to take a controversial stand on a controversial topic and stick to it. The public will remember you and the best part is it’s free.
But controversy is just one form of publicity and cost is just one of its advantages. Public relations also:
How Not to Win Over an Editor
Here are five ways to likely be ignored:
1. Send an e-mail press release with a subject line that simply says “News Release.” Instead, use that line to explain what the release is about.
2. Complain that your competitors have been written about but you haven’t.
3. Insist the media outlet owes you coverage because your company spends a lot on advertising.
4. Send a press release without a contact name and telephone number.
5. Demand to read an article before it’s printed.
Helps overcome ad fatigue. Face it, consumers are becoming more cynical and don’t put a lot of faith in advertisements. They tend to tune out when they see hype.
Bolsters your credibility by getting a positive article written by an objective, third party observer. In other words, a publication is giving space to your story — you aren’t paying for it.
Places you in a public forum where people pay attention rather than trying to tune out, and
Provides opportunities to explain your side of the story in the event of a crisis, such as a product recall or a financial setback.
In a nutshell, publicity gets your company noticed and, by finding something newsworthy, helps you stand out from the crowd.
With that in mind, sit down with your managers and brainstorm ways you can generate newsworthy publicity. Here are ten suggestions to get you started:
1. How has your company handled a crisis, such as the threat of terrorism, the plight of the homeless, mad-cow disease or a sluggish economy?
2. What are your opinions on issues in the latest local or federal election? How do you feel about a tax proposal or proposed budget cuts? Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper or trade journal elaborating on your opinions and work in some aspects of your company. Tell the reader, or the interviewer, why a candidate’s position on issues is important to your business or industry.
3. Make yourself an expert by contacting television and radio stations, as well as magazines, newspapers and trade journals, to let them know you are available to be interviewed on particular topics.
4. Take a poll or a survey of your industry and publish the results.
5. Write about a unique marketing approach your company successfully used.
6. Sponsor a local sports team, or offer your services to help raise money for a worthy cause you are interested in.
7. Give speeches on issues related to your business or industry, on a particular topic that is making headlines, or on an issue you feel strongly about.
8. Stage events such as seminars for the media or sponsor awards for media coverage of an industry or an issue, or offer your facilities as a site for TV programs, movies or commercials.
9. Describe a customer’s success story and your role in helping the person achieve goals. Just be sure you don’t sound too self-serving.
10. Create a list of tips related to accomplishing goals in your business.
The control issue: The one thing about publicity, however, is that you can’t really control it the way you can an advertisement and its placement and timing. What happens to your message once you’ve put it out depends a great deal on whether the media finds it newsworthy or whether war breaks out and your story is put on semi-permanent hold.
It is, however, free. And for both large and small companies, publicity is a solid way to communicate directly to a target audience and to complement your advertising efforts.