This is probably one of my most frequently asked questions (post pending), as I then explain the falacy that PR = publicity. And since I’ve got you here with my linkbaiting headline that asks a question and seeks to give a transparent answer (h/t Marcus), let’s pile on the SEO love.
How do you get free publicity? You. Don’t.
Publicity is not free. Wire services cost money. Stunts and ‘viral’ memes can cost big money to produce and market. It’s not free publicity; it’s earned media.
It takes a considerable investment of time, expertise, research and talent to properly target the appropriate media with your company’s tale of promotional ‘news.’ Even if you go it alone, don’t fall for the DIY lie. Don’t know if you’ve heard, but time IS money and you could end up spending as much time running your marketing as you do running your business.
It takes writing skill, understanding the market and media, what appeals to whom. It takes know-how to pitch a story, find the right reporter and package it the right way to earn that positive exposure. Don’t believe me? Here’s how NOT to pitch, either the media or a blogger.
A simple litmus test on deciding what news is worthy of
free publicity – ahem, earned media.
Store Opening: Are you Apple? Yes, it’s news. No, try again.
New Hire/Promotion/Exec who wants their name in the paper: Did you hire or fire Donald Trump? Congratulations, that’s news I’d read. No, maybe try the trades or yes, there are the vanity wall ‘People in the News’ sections of trades and business journals. Good luck with that.
New Product: New widget? If there’s not an “i” in front of it, think about what makes YOUR widget interesting to the readers and viewers of the media or blogger you’re pitching. Is it a new creole-Swiss fusion cuisine billiards-and-yodel bar? Different isn’t enough, everyone is ‘different.’ It has to be better than other options and worth a trip.. but don’t pitch it 4 counties over or the sports local section.
New factory, business: If your business consists of an operation run out of the back of your SUV, stimulating the economy of your back pocket my professional opinion is to suggest you dig a little deeper. If you’re generating millions in revenue that attracts investors or adds 50 jobs to the local community, now you’ve got something.
You want the cover of WSJ: that one’s easier, screw up royally.. more epic the facepalm, the better. (Inside PR joke.)
Yes, you have a story. So what.
We all have stories to tell, we all have businesses to market and services we think are all that and a box of chocolate. But it doesn’t always mean it’s news worthy of ‘free’ publicity. It’s the answer to the “so what?” – real, interesting, entertaining, thought-provoking, relevant to the audience – that is what gets you closer to a story watchable on the nightly news.
Whether you go it alone or hire a professional, keep that in mind along with this: as a pro, the job isn’t just about media relations but its value to your business, its worth and return on the investment of your time and money. My next question is this: Your PR ploy worked, got you some publicity. Great. What are you gonna do now to make that publicity work for your business?
Thoughts? Rants? Off target pitches to not share?
Photo credit: they sell all sorts of snarky things at Cafepress.