Public Relations (PR) is a broad category. It can be as personal as the local community’s public opinion in the case of a hospital or as far reaching as an internationally translated and syndicated newspaper like the Wall Street Journal and everything in between.
Traditional outlets like newspapers, trade publications (magazines, newsletters, and papers), television and radio have been significantly expanded by the advent of the internet. While traditional print publications may have suffered we now have web sites, e-zines (electronic magazines), e-mail newsletters, blogs like those offered on AllBusiness.com, YouTube.com and other individually controlled social media like Linkedin and Twitter.
There are many venues to approach the media. Press releases issued “over the wire” on premium services like PR Newswire and BusinessWire can be augmented on “free” or lower cost sites like PRLog.org or dBusinessnews.com, and sent via e-mail, web form, or via post to the appropriately targeted news or review editor. Even more so than the general public, the media are in information overload. Non targeted e-mails and phone messages will most likely be ignored or screened out.
As with any sales type effort, yes PR is a sales effort – you are selling yourself, company or product as newsworthy, a personal relationship or in person exposure is very helpful. While PR agencies are an obvious method to facilitate the process there are methods in which you company directly “reach out” to the media with some success either with an agency or with your own staff.
Press Release Distribution
An obvious point to make is that any Press Release should be posted on the issuing company’s web site. Depending on budget the aforementioned media distribution sites can also be utilized. At least a few of the free sites should be considered as some offer significant web benefits. A few of the sites offer long archival of your new releases and considerable cross links benefitting your Organic Web marketing. Some, at the higher price points, also track and report the web sites or domains of the people opening up your press release.
Product sampling is an obvious method. As we discussed in Product Packaging and labeling – Eye Candy – your 3 second billboard to a prospective customer, you need to first get your customers (target editors) attention.
While assisting a company with a consumer fob, “the car finding keychain”, samples were sent to targeted media and editors covering automobile, outdoors, and gadgets. Being creative in the presentation and delivery, and getting the package opened, is also a consideration. For example, when sending the keychain, in an envelope with a press release, we addressed the labels individually. Do not send impersonal labels. We also hand wrote on the envelope with a marker “Poor man’s GPS enclosed”. By sending out press releases via e-mail, USPS, and sampling we obtained coverage in 4 of the top 10 U.S. Newspapers, a GPS publication, and a local TV news station.
Another example would be a children’s software product where we had stuffed animals made with an integrated audio playback circuit. We sent the software, stuffed animal and press releases to targeted media with bright orange preprinted stickers with “Live Animals OPEN IMMEDIATELY” placed on the box near the address label and on the sides. The product was reviewed in national newspapers in the U.S. and Canada and targeted educational trade magazines where the samples were sent.
Out Reach to Media
Relevant media can be identified through the editorial contact page of most papers and magazines and media web sites, through google searches and paid services like Cision.
Make sure you target your pitch to each venue and to each editor and their preferences. Some editors cover news, others product reviews, others stories and applications. Many members of the media also have contact preferences on how they prefer to be contacted.
Most Business Journals and business publications focus on the 3 B’s, Business, Buildings and Bodies. In other words they focus on contracts and business issues, real estate and employment.
Many venues also feed on current events. If you have a product or solution which addresses a new approach to removing mold and the coast is recovering from floods, you have an excellent opportunity to present your products to the media for coverage opportunities. Contact the media, reach out to a non-profit and donate some product, take advantage of the opportunity to show your products in real-world situations which are on the front pages.
Product Review Calendars
Many trade journals and other media have specific calendars for which they review certain products. A computer oriented publication may focus on new PC models in the November/Holiday issues, an agricultural publication most likely focuses on the planting and harvesting cycles of individual crops, etc.
These calendars may be in the publications media kit, web site, or may be provided by services like Cision mentioned above. Lead-times on scheduled product or company round-up reviews may be as long as 4-5 months.
Many trade journals, especially those in niche markets, may take contributed articles. While there are most likely guidelines regarding product placements and ‘salesy” advertorials, contributed articles, case studies and white papers are excellent opportunities for subtle product and company mentions and the establishment of the author as an industry thought leader. An example of a contributed article on call center outsourcing can be seen here.
to be continued…..
to be continued…..
Part II of “Jump starting PR efforts, the effect on Search Engine Marketing and Optimization from PR efforts, and getting attention from the media.”
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