Publicity: Gaining Visibility Through Non-paid Means
A small business owner called seeking a publicist. A few years ago, a newspaper mentioned his business, which led to a spike in sales. Good news. Countless ads totaling thousands of dollars failed to deliver the same results. Bad news.
It’s not uncommon for businesses to invest in advertising, because they understand its premise: you purchase print space or airtime, and run the content you choose. When effective, it drives broad-based awareness. It can be expensive, however, and tough to get noticed.
Publicity is a little more nebulous. It delivers widespread exposure through non-paid means, making it a practical marketing tool in any economy but especially in leaner times. It is often viewed more credibly than ads and tends to capture audience interest better. The trade-off is that you lose some control over the message conveyed and when it may be conveyed.
Ripe with Opportunity
With the variety and volume of media today, there are an abundance of opportunities to reach potential customers through editorial coverage in consumer lifestyle publications, trade magazines, newspapers, TV, Internet news sites or blogs. Even mentions social networks can be considered publicity.
Every day, newspapers, TV and radio news programs, and even some blogs have a news “hole” to fill. Their editors, reporters and producers are charged with filling that hole with accurate, interesting information that will appeal to their audiences. They rely on experts (you) to shape and support the premise of the story. And they do this knowing there’s a deadline looming.
Identifying News Within
The most important step in your publicity efforts is identifying the news within your organization. Most companies either think everything they do is newsworthy or they are too close to what they do that nothing seems unique or newsworthy. It takes a bit of objective observation and a familiarity with the media to hone in on what will appeal to news crews.
In general, media cover items that fulfill one or more of the following criteria:
- Affects a lot of people
- Is in close proximity
- Involves someone or something of prominence
- Is unique
- Is a trend
- Is of human interest
- Has not been covered before
With these in mind, what might your company take to the media to gain visibility? Do you have an upcoming event? Are you introducing a new product? Have you made strides in solving a perplexing societal problem?
I encourage you to spend some time being an objective observer within your company looking for stories that may interest media and also studying the stories covered by media. Next month, I’ll dive into this topic a bit more.