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PR Is More Than Just Press Releases

There are many ways to communicate your message. Try these 5 methods on for size, and watch the word spread like wildfire.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q: I know I need to get my business's name in front of customers, but I'm not sure how to do it. What PR strategies do you recommend?

A: Just like any other form of marketing, PR should have its own plan within the marketing plan. Guerrilla Marketing teaches us to establish a marketing calendar that will guide us, help us budget and be an evaluation tool when determining effective marketing methods. The same goes for PR: A separate plan or guiding tool makes for a more effective PR program and overall marketing approach.

We often think of PR as our name or company name being printed in a particular publication. While this is good and part of any good PR program, effective PR can take many forms. Marketing is made up of many, many things working together from many directions all toward your target market. The more of these things that your target market hears and sees, the easier it is to sell your product or service. That's when you know marketing is doing its job.

Here are even more ways to get your name out. Make sure they're included in your PR plan:

1. Events: These can be open houses, celebrity visits, clearance sales, "meet the owners" events or other events that give you a reason to invite customers and prospects to your place of business. The most important invitee of all for effective PR is the media. This includes newspaper officials and reporters, editors, management and similar titles from radio and TV stations. Meeting people from the media also gives you a reason to follow up later, which helps you establish good relationships with those that control the news and features. Related to an event is the press conference. These are usually held to introduce a new product or person, provide a response to a situation, or handle anything else that's extremely newsworthy.

2. Fact sheets, newsletters and brochures for customers and prospects: This almost sounds more like part of the marketing plan vs. the PR plan, but these marketing vehicles can be tailored to support PR and one-time situations and enhance media relations. Add members of the media to the distribution list for these.

3. A PR firm: You can make your company seem more newsworthy and media-friendly by hiring a PR agency. This doesn't have to be done on an ongoing basis. There are PR professionals who will work with you event by event or project by project. This should only be done if it's part of your overall plan and the budget is in line with your company financials.

4. FAQ development: Radio and TV people, believe it or not, sometimes have trouble selecting topics to fill their air time and finding good people to interview. A radio or TV interview opportunity might arise in the near future, so take some time now to prepare yourself. Compile a list of answers to anticipated questions or questions that make your point. These FAQs can also be included in your media kits, posted on your Web site and distributed when meeting with customers and prospects.

5. Speaking engagements: Nothing gets the word out more than the spoken word. When you speak to a group, you are the center of attention, competing with no one for share of mind. You're also in a situation where you can best communicate your marketing message. Speaking is a great form of PR. Many times the speaking engagement is publicized ahead of time, and sometimes the media will show up at such events. This increases the likelihood of post-event PR. This is all synergized when you are an expert on a particular subject.

As you can see, PR can be more than just a press release. A planned approach that utilizes many different methods will increase your probability for success and generate the kind of PR you want for your business. Make it part of your plan!

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, or e-mail him at

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of 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.

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