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Monday, June 29, 2009

Media publicity: When, how and why

Butch Jones, East Coast Fire Protection, Kevin Neno, Sigal Construction, Gerard Mullen, Truland Service, Tony Esteve, Truland Service, Pat Dolan, Truland Service, Andy Huang, Sigal Construction at the Truland Service Golf Tournament in support of Luke's Wings in Washington, D.C.

One of your most cost-effective marketing strategies is obtaining positive publicity for your business in the news media. When it comes right down to what we have to "sell", it is just that -- a resource to enable you to obtain business-building publicity without spending thousands of dollars of scarce resources.

Like most business endeavours, there are rules of the game here. Yet one of the most effective "conventions" in seeking and receiving publicity is to know how and when to break the rules. News, after all, is something a little spectacular, and run-of-the-mill stuff rarely excites cynical reporters and editors.

The biggest challenge and limitation of media publicity is you can't control how and when your "free story" will appear. Consider, for example, the story about Truland Service's Golf Tournament in aid of injured war veterans. The story is admirable, and the freelance writer contracted and paid for by Truland to generate the story in a manner suitable for the Press is well written. But will anyone publish it?

Most stories, it seem, go the way of Truland's good news. Editors receive dozens of calls and emails each week with the hope that one commercial interest or another will be interesting enough to receive some "free press". Sometimes the news releases are picked up, and sometimes they lead to good things. But if you are trying to budget your results, if you are hoping for things just to happen just right, you are often disappointed.

To some extent, we get around this problem with special features in our print and online publications. If we can sell enough advertising ($1,500) to your suppliers or yourself, we will write the story in a journalistic style, make sure you approve its content, and publish it. Because we publish these stories in credible formats, they are much more effective than conventional advertising, and with the third-party support, they are often free.

This is good, but what about the larger goals of effective publicity? How do you break through the barriers here.

I would argue that creativity, public service and luck all have a rule in the solution. Creativity is essential to come up with a story angle and style that will actually appeal to editors. Public service is important because you won't get much traction with a purely commercial message (and clearly we want the news to be in a positive rather than hostile format.) Luck, the big intangible, is virtually impossible to control. You can't tell what other stories or issues will push interest in your story aside.

If you want to see what we can do with the special features, you can check the stories on Herring and Trowbridge Architects, Partner's Contracting and Homestead Renovations in the latest issue of Design and Construction Report. Then feel free to call or email me and I will give you more information.

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