Publicity is such a powerful compliment to traditional advertising that most mid- to large-sized corporations either employ a public relations agency or have their own in-house communications departments to get their messages in the news. These communications come in a variety of forms such as topical announcements, standard press releases, or as more complex and direct pitches to reporters and producers for full feature stories, article ideas or maybe to solicit a radio or television interview.
Although the benefits of a ongoing media campaign are proven and numerous, many smaller companies lack the resources to sustain a full-time media blitz, even in a small, local market. This failure to fully exploit the publicity phenomenon allows more visible competitors to increase market share while casting doubt on the credibility of smaller, less visible operations.
In some not-so-rare cases, nationwide service providers have moved into new territories and armed with a strategic media and marketing campaign have all but eliminated local competitors in a matter of months. The support of the local media can have that much influence in the minds of an increasingly skeptical consumer.
So what's a company with a limited amount of time and resources to do? Recycle the publicity you do get!
Since the main focus of public relations agents is restricted to getting their client in the news, leveraging the publicity they do generate is usually beyond the scope of their job. This is where the savvy self promoter has the upper hand and can out flank competitors with even the largest public relations budget.
In a previous article I mentioned the importance of sending a press release whenever your company has an announcement, new product, service or management change. These announcements provide you a wealth of other publicity opportunities. After you get local press coverage notify any trade associations you're a member of that publish its own newsletters and magazines, especially state and local trade groups. Most have a "people in the news" section in the publications that may prompt a larger story. Send your news to your local Chamber Magazine (don't assume they saw you in the news, contact them), Church Newsletters, and other social and civic organization publications. These are a great way to reach local areas of influence.
Clip your news stories and have them professionally matted and displayed in your office lobby. Visitors will see you as newsworthy. Send copies to all of your customers and prospects. Go to an office supply store and order pads of post notes with a message such as: "Thought you would enjoy reading this". The pads can be printed in your own handwriting. Attach one to each copy of the story. They will appear to your prospect or client like your wrote the note specifically to them.
Use news stories in presentation binders, and pitch books. If your story was printed in a trade publication or magazine contact the publisher and order professionally produced reprints. Use the reprints as direct mail pieces. Include a money-off coupon to "celebrate" your news story. You might even mail two copies and ask your client to pass the other to an interested friend or colleague.
Most news outlets post their stories online as well as in print. Create a "media room" on your website and post links to these published online articles. You should also post any press releases you write to your media room so reporters can find more about you without having to contact you. Notify the press that these resources are available online.
Also posting releases on your website for reporters to find is a wonderful credibility builder with prospects who see you as active in the news. (Even a press release that is never published other than on your own site has remarkable sway with consumers)
If the press writes a feature story on your company, product or service, provide a link to the story on your home page. If the story features or benefit of your company, such as you install energy efficient windows, include a copy of the article with the new window installation proposals you give. After the story appears make certain you pitch the idea (Not the actual piece itself, the paper owns that, just the idea) to reporters in other towns in or around your market. If one reporter thought your story was interesting enough to print its common others will too.
If your story appears in a trade or specialty publication such as a regional business publication, contact the publications list manager. (Often you will have to call the publisher to find this person) Ask to rent the publications list of subscribers that reside or work in the market you service. Send everyone on that list a reprint with a post note inviting them to call you for a free quote. Now you're marketing to a group of prospects that just read a story about you in a publication they subscribe to. (Don't assume because they get the magazine they read the article. Note: List brokers usually have minimum list amounts they will sell. They quality of these leads is so good it often makes sense to buy a list that covers more than your area just to get the local leads, regardless of the additional amount)
Collage news mentions and headlines and use them as background images in marketing pieces.
After you've been interviewed for radio or television get a copy of the audio or video and post to your website. You can also upload these files to most business and social media sites such as Linkedin, Facebook, Digg and dozens more. Have videos reproduced on a "continuous loop" and play them at trade shows, home shows, and if your budget allows have them converted and installed on your laptop and use them during your sales calls.
As you can see the possibilities are many. Brainstorm other ways to recycle your press coverage, and before you know it your competition and your prospects will be seeing you everywhere.
Michael Hart is a speaker, author, talk radio host and shameless publicity hound. His marketing, publicity and advertising strategies have been featured in: Selling Magazine, Sales and Marketing Executive Report, Creative Selling, The American Salesman, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Closing, and Presentations Magazines, - as well as hundreds of business journals, newspapers, trade magazines and private business publications. Michael is also regularly interviewed for radio, television and podcasts around the globe. He can be reached at 866 238 5294 Michael@MichaelHartSpeaks.com or through www.MichaelHartSpeaks.com