Stars of PR
PR is the hottest way to get buzz about a new business. So say Al and Laura Ries in their new book, The Fall of Advertising & The Rise of PR (HarperInformation). Media stories imply credibility. "Over the years, we've noted that many brands really got started with PR," says Al. Remember these big-guy tactics:
- Starbucks: Founder Howard Schultz pitched the fact that the European-style coffee bar was new in the States and that it attracted a hip, urban clientele. Says Al, "Being the first in a new category generates publicity."
- Red Bull: First launched in Austria in 1987, the product's buzz started in Germany when the energy drink was banned because of concerns about some ingredients. That, of course, made German teenagers want it even more. The word-of-mouth came to the United States with a vengeance-and Red Bull is now the market leader.
- Amazon.com: Founder Jeff Bezos spoke everywhere about his fresh concept: an online bookseller. The media bit, and Bezos and Amazon.com enjoyed plenty of press coverage.
The key to each of these success stories? Each business focused on what was newsworthy-something any company can do.
You don't have time to keep up with all the latest business knowledge, but MBA students sure do. And over at Emory University's Goizueta Business School in Atlanta, businesses that participate in the annual Marketing Strategy Competition can get the up-to-date advice they need-directly from students.
Anisa Telwar Hunt's Atlanta product design company, Anisa International Inc., benefited greatly from the program. After spending time with Telwar Hunt sharing the ins and outs of her business, financials and distribution, the five-member student team put together a marketing plan in 2001. They recommended that she increase her relationships with vendors, expand her distribution and be more innovative with the line of makeup application tools she manufactures. "It re-energized me," says Telwar Hunt, 36. Having already started building relationships, she hopes to attack the innovation suggestions soon. "I learned so much," continues Telwar Hunt, whose sales topped $8 million in 2001.
Find out how to submit a proposal to be part of next year's competition at www.bus.emory.edu/gmsc. If your company doesn't make the lucky 12 or if you can't afford the $15,000 fee to participate ($5,000 for nonprofits), check out your local community colleges and universities for similar programs. Contact marketing or even public relations professors and offer your company as a case study for the classroom-you just might get some innovative marketing ideas.