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Drum Up Publicity

Ready to hit the papers with the latest news about your business? Hire a public relations firm to help out.

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Want to see your company mentioned in an article? While you canhope that a journalist calls you, your odds improve dramatically ifyou take active steps to introduce your company to the media. Apublic relations agency can do the hard work for you.

Advertising can be very effective in projecting the image thatyou want, but getting mentioned by the press can providecredibility that thousands of dollars in advertising can never hopeto achieve. PR firms can help you secure that credibility in thelocal, industry or national media through all different types ofmedia including print, radio, television or even the Internet.

What should you look for in a PR agency? In the end, PR firmsare judged by the press mentions, also known as"placements," that they can get for their clients. As aprospective client, you should, too. Evaluate not only where theclient was placed but also what kind of placement they received,e.g. article vs. quote vs. mention. Don't be turned off byplacements in publications you might not be familiar with; this mayhave in fact met the client's objectives.

Some may argue that reviewing portfolios may not reflect theresults a public relations firm will actually be able to deliverfor you. That is true. But assuming that your company is worthy ofcoverage, you will have the advantage of having people working foryou who already have established contacts with journalists whereyou may want to be placed.

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See how well they can package your company. Read the pressreleases they have developed for their clients. They should all beclearly written, informative, and interesting. While there will nodoubt be standard releases about new product announcements, companyresults and executive appointments, the firm should also have somecreative campaigns that promote their clients in a compellingmanner. Press releases that grab your attention are likely to beinteresting to the media as well.

One of the most critical aspects to explore is to find out whowill actually be responsible for handling your account and pitchingyour story to the press. The person should be friendly, articulateand persistent both in person as well as via e-mail. No matter hownewsworthy your story is, unless there is someone to pitch andfollow up, you are unlikely to get picked up by the press.

Finally, look for enthusiasm. I don't care if you sell themost boring product or service in the world. If a PR firm is nothonestly excited about your widgets, they sure won't be able toconvey it to any member of the press that they want to encourage towrite about you.

Working with a PR agency is not cheap. At minimum, you shouldbudget thousands of dollars for a full campaign, with more limitedprojects being less costly. But the return can be well worth theinvestment.

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