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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Practical publicity -- doing it right

Peter Schürmann of Redwell Canada Inc. has shown how mastery of media relations and publicity can pay big dividends. He distributes a rather novel product -- an Austrian-based radiant heating 'frame'. You stick the frame up on a wall, and it heats the room using radiant heat -- more efficiently than conventional heat, and without the need for duct work, wiring, or furnaces. The technology has interesting practical applications. You, for example, can install a mirror version in bathrooms -- the mirror never fogs up, and if you put a towel over it, it would warm the towel up for extra comfort.

OK, this might be an interesting product, but how do you sell it? Schurmann saw an article by a Globe and Mail columnist in Toronto about the advantages of radiant floor heating. He sent her a note; saying he agrees entirely with her observations -- and then outlined his product's unique advantages and qualities. She called, impressed, and wrote the 'perfect' story -- especially well timed, because he was exhibiting the product at Toronto home show just after the article appeared in print.

Schürmann says at least 200 people came to the Redwell booth saying they had seen the article, and wanting more information. And of course Redwell is using the article in its trade show exhibits, and on its website.

Fair enough. Schürmann knows how to 'work' the media effectively. He saw me at the Toronto Construction Association Members Day event, and knew I was there as a journalist. He approached me to sell me on his story. I told him that frankly we constrain commercial promotions of individual businesses into advertorial features -- they, after all, are the mainstay of our print business revenue.

But after our conversation, I visited his booth, that happened to be near ours. Jason Chase reported on his sales successes at the TCA event (I was busy gathering notes for the editorial component) and we observed that Schürmann knew how to obtain publicity without even the slightest expectation of needing to pay for it.

So how does he do it?

  1. He has a good story. The product is interesting, after all.
  2. He has achieved publicity in credible media. News reporters, like most of us, run in packs. When one is interested, others follow.
  3. He seized on a related story, and sent a personal, appropriate communication directly to the writer, outlining his own story. Good move. It isn't pushy, it is relevant, and the writer responded accordingly.
  4. He sizes up reporters and approaches them, seeking their involvement and participation.
So he succeeded, as well, here with this blog. I've provided a hyperlink and some publicity he wouldn't have achieved otherwise.

Done properly, media publicity is the least expensive and most effective marketing you can arrange. Schürmann shows how it can be done.

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