I recently wrote about the virtues of blogging. Having your own website is a great way to raise your profile and credibility, and promote your business. Naturally you need to have quality content on your blog – thoroughly researched and well-written articles, strong photos and interesting videos. But there are numerous other ways to raise your profile or that of your business. Let’s look carefully at the art of generating publicity.
What exactly do you want to promote?
The first lesson is to be sure about exactly what you want to promote. Do you want to promote your business, or a new product that you are launching? Or do you want to raise your profile as a tireless community worker, perhaps you are considering running as an independent candidate at the next election? Do you want to promote your knowledge about prestige cars in the hope that you will get more work as a mechanic on prestige cars? Write a sentence of about 24-words describing exactly what you want to promote.
Use social media
Knowing what you want to promote makes it easier to refine a social media campaign. Anyone working in business or the arts must have an online profile. You can set up a blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn or Twitter account at no cost. Once you have identified exactly what you want to promote make that the focus of your blog and social media profiles.
The most successful social media campaigns go viral. Do you remember that Queensland Tourism best job in the world campaign? At no cost, Queensland Tourism posted job advertisements on employment sites around the world. They said they were seeking a caretaker for an island in the Great Barrier Reef. 35,000 applicants from 200 countries applied and the campaigns attracted international media attention. It is estimated to have generated $430 million in free publicity and came from one simple idea. Think of how you can promote your business creatively. But avoid coming across as ridiculous or crazy or too theatrical. You don’t want to undermine your brand. Be clever and creative.
How to use the media
Write a great media release, post it on your blog and send it out to the radio, TV and newspapers (including your local community newspaper). Your headline must be exciting and informative. Write short sentences that begin with the subject. Include the most exciting and interesting details about your venture. You might want to invest in buying a contact book listing of all Australia’s journalists, such as Margaret Gee’s Media Guide. This is an extensive index of names, phone numbers and email addresses. Look at the names in this guide and then research what types of stories different journalists write. You might find a journalist who shares your area of interest. It would then be wise to make contact with this journalist through a well-written media release.
Be aware that journalists have a set of criteria when deciding on the news value of a story. The criteria or news values are: impact, timeliness, prominence, proximity, conflict and unusual. I will explain these news values in more detail in my next blog.
Once you have written a cracking media release, it’s a good idea to ring the newsroom and ask to speak to the chief-of-staff. In a very friendly way ask if your release has arrived and mention one or two interesting details. The best publicists have strong relationships with working journalists, and the journalist will listen to the publicist’s pitch for a story. But journalists are also weary of people seeking free advertising. Your media release must have some news value. Ideally it will contain at least three of the key news values listed above.
Have you considered becoming an “expert” in your field? If you have knowledge on a specialist subject, spot a trend and comment on it. You could send out your comments in a media release, ring talk-back radio or contact the local newspaper and offer to write a free column every week. For example if you run a puppy school, why not write a weekly column on how to train your dog. Don’t give away all the tricks of the trade and insist that the newspaper states at the bottom of every article the name of your business in return for your free advice.
If you decide you need some paid advertising, think carefully about which medium – radio, TV or newspapers. Do some research as to which products work best with which medium. Ask the media sales representative if there is any chance of getting some time in program slots. For example, if you advertise your travel bureau with the local radio station, ask if you could also talk about travelling with the presenter of the afternoon drive program. Before paying for advertising, ask yourself whether the results are going to pay for the cost.
Would it be more profitable to attract customers with a free gift rather than investing in paid advertising?
Winning an award is a brilliant and cost-effective way of getting publicity. Investigate what competitions are open to you. For example if you run a cake shop, enter your produce in a country’s show or CWA cooking competition. If you win a prize, send out a press release to the media. Alternatively, if you land a big contract, share the good news, again send out a media release. Post it up on your blog and Facebook page. Blow your own horn!
Do you have skills you could contribute to a community project? If you want to establish yourself as an up-and-coming designer why not offer to help sew costumes for an amateur theatre company. You might find some of the actors later commission you to make them some clothes. If you are trying to establish a reputation as a landscape gardener, why not volunteer to work on a community garden project?
Generating publicity to establish yourself as an expert or boost your business is a long-term venture. It is something you always need to be chipping away at. You need to be posting on your blog, giving to local charities, attending community events, being hands-on in your business. There is no quick fix. Don’t think you can do a publicity blitz and then forget about promotion. When it comes to generating publicity, prevenance is the key.