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Publishing as a PR Vehicle

Write an article to establish yourself as an expert and garner publicity.

Q: Can feature articles be used to generate PR and promote my business?

A: When thinking of PR, one usually thinks of the media. When thinking of the media, one usually thinks of press releases to communicate with the media. There is, however, another way to leverage the media for exposure and awareness, and at a low cost. Feature articles are considered a media-rich vehicle for communicating to the masses. Just pick up any magazine.

A feature article does a number of things:

1. It supplies content to the media to hopefully enhance the publication. Most publications need a steady stream of informative articles. After all, this is the raw material for the product of publications.

2. Having a feature article published gives the writer almost instant credibility. Communicating through the media, to a target market, that a particular writer is an expert has a long-lasting touch with residual value. This credibility is certainly higher than what a paid, sponsored advertisement can provide.

3. Along the same lines as building credibility and establishing a high level of expertise is just the very fact that an article was published. Other promotional messages used in a total marketing campaign can be enhanced when stating things like "As seen in Entrepreneur magazine" or "As published in USA Today." This works with obscure publications as well.

One of the more important parts of feature article PR is the bio paragraph that accompanies the article, usually at the end of the article. (Some publications will feature bio information in a box apart from the article.) This source box, as it is commonly referred to, is where contact information-phone, fax, e-mail and Web site-is communicated. There is a higher probability of contact information being published in an article vs. an article written from a press release. The source box also generates more response than a paid advertisement would.

Feature article PR costs little and should be part of your overall awareness plan. The only cost is if a professional PR firm, marketing agency or writer is contracted to develop the feature article or series of articles.

Just like a press release, feature articles should have a newsworthy angle to increase the probability of it getting published. How-to articles, new-product information articles or anything related to the trends of a particular industry appeal to editors as newsworthy.

Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-mail promotion specialist, principle of marketing consulting firm Marketing Now, and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing company in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at http://www.market-for-profits.com and http://www.1-800-inkwell.com, or e-mail him at al@market-for-profits.com.


The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.

Al Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant and direct-mail promotion specialist. He's also the principle of Market For Profits, a Chicago-based marketing consulting firm. His two latest books, Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days and The Ultimate Guide to Direct Marketing are available at www.entrepreneurpress.com.

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