Q: I want to generate publicity for my business, but I don't really know where to start or how to go about it. Can you help?
A: Here's how to generate publicity for you and your business by spending just a little of each of the next seven days on PR:
Day 1: Determine your target.
Make a list of all the publications in your target market area. These will most likely be newspapers, such as weekly newspapers, daily newspapers, regional business journals, free about-town advertising fliers and chamber of commerce newsletters. I would shy away from national publications unless you have a dynamite national story or you have a connection at a national publication. Next, determine the radio and television stations in your target market area. This includes AM, FM, public radio, college radio stations and the like.
Day 2: Develop a database of contacts from day one.
From each of the publications, determine where your news or announcement would best fit. Once you have done this, find out who the primary editor or reporter is for this part of the publication. Sometimes this is a feature editor, a feature reporter, a pool reporter or the managing editor. Do not send your press release to anybody and everybody at a particular publication. Do the same thing for radio and TV producers: Find out who assigns the news to reporters. Find out who edits the on-air news.
Day 3: Determine what PR story you will communicate.
Brainstorm PR topics. Are you making an announcement, communicating a change, stating an opinion or revealing a finding? Do you have a local angle to a national story? Is your information newsworthy and not promotionally slanted? All you need is 12 topics to average one press release per month for one year. However, don't let this schedule stop you from reporting news when it happens or making an announcement.
Day 4: Write the actual press release.
Editors love people who speak their language. A one-page press release that opens with who, what, where, when and why will make them happy and increase your probability of getting into their publication. Include some background information, a quote from you or another high-ranking person in the organization and the contact information. That's all there is to a press release. It doesn't have to be a long thesis. It doesn't have to have every single detail in it. If the reporter wants to do more of a story, he or she will call to develop further.
Day 5: Send your press release to those in the database you established on day two.
Some editors prefer faxed press releases, yet there is a growing trend toward receiving them by e-mail. Very rarely are press releases snail-mailed; however, some still are when photos are part of the release. Finding out your editor's, reporter's or producer's preference will increase your chance of publicity.
Day 6: Use your press release for other things.
Because of the sheer number of press releases generated, they cannot all be published. Don't let this stop you from issuing the release and trying to generate publicity. There are other things you can do with press releases. You can post them on your Web site in the media room area. You can use them as direct-mail pieces to customers and prospects. You can use them as handouts on sales calls or put them on the other side of your fliers. Use your imagination here, and you will be surprised at the unique ways you have to generate publicity and ultimately buzz about you and your business.
Day 7: Continue your efforts to establish relationships with editors, reporters and producers.
The more relationships you have with your targeted publications, the increased likelihood you have of getting publicity. The time to do this is not when you have a breaking news story. Take your time in this area and spread out your efforts. Then when you do have that breaking news or blockbuster story, you'll know who to contact directly and quickly for the biggest PR impact.
Spending just a little bit of time each day on these seven steps will make you an expert in the PR arena. The most appealing part of all about this kind of PR strategy is the cost. In the spirit of guerrilla marketing, this is not high-dollar marketing, but rather marketing that relies on your time, energy and imagination.
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.