Having already discussed Why Publicity Matters last week, the most effective publicity strategy is to position yourself as an expert in your field. Notice how the media, especially television, seems to have the same experts come on shows to comment on stories etc. This did not happen by accident and did not come easy for these experts early on. They successfully positioned themselves in the media as the "go to" expert in their field. Then when they got the chance, they shined. They shined so much that the media invited them back again and again.
Once you are a proven expert resource, the media will come to you vs. you going after the media. You now begin to establish and build a rewarding, win-win relationship with producers, editors and others.
What are the best ways to be positioned as an expert in your field?
# 1-Get published.
Write a feature article for a newspaper, trade publication or a website. Or write a book. People tend to believe and trust what they see in print. I was able to strengthen my reputation as an expert with articles I wrote, or with profile pieces that were published in The Minneapolis StarTribune, Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal/ Center For Entrepreneurs, CNNMoney.com, Fortune Small Business, USAToday.com, and The Canadian Business Owner etc.
Plus, when a potential client or customer reads your work, it gives you immediate credibility in their eyes. An in turn, helps close the sale or deal.
# 2-Get on television or the radio.
Despite the perception, it’s not impossible. Producers and reporters are always on the lookout for experts in many fields that they can draw from for timely input on newsworthy stories. For example, although I have many competitors, I was able to appear regularly on WGN Radio and on Chicagoland Television. And was featured as an guest expert on entrepreneur/small business owner topics for their stories.
# 3 Give speeches.
Volunteer your time for talks and lectures. A great venue is your local chamber of commerce, networking groups and libraries etc. When you speak in public, people perceive you as an expert in your field.
My first speaking opportunity was with The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. This high profile "gig" opened up new speaking doors and opportunities with other venues including;The Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, The Chicago Bar Association, Celebrity Cruise Lines, Macy’s, Motorola, The University of Chicago/Graduate School of Business, several U.S. outplacement firms and other organizations.
Writing a News Release
At the heart of any publicity campaign is the news release or is often called, the press release. A news release is simply your news story, written in a journalistic style. A well-written, newsworthy release is a helpful tool to get on television, radio or in newspapers. The news release may be used as the basis for a report in the media. Or can trigger a call from a producer or reporter wanting to find out more information. No publicity tool is as simple to use or as effective as the news release.
Keep in mind, at all times, that the release needs to be written in a journalistic style and must answer the "Five W"s?: Who? What? Where? Why? And When? And one H: How.
The news release is not a sales document or advertisement. A simple rule to keep in mind, as your draft your release; why would readers, viewers or listeners be interested in this story? A key tip, focus on a strong headline.
The media today, like all of us, live in a headline driven world. You only have a few seconds to grab the attention of an editor or producer. The harsh truth is that these folks only glace at the headline of a news release. And 97% of rejections are made at this point.
Sending Your News Release
The best way to send your news release, by a long shot, is emailing.
It is tough to beat its speed, efficiency, effectiveness and cost advantages. Plus, journalists and media producers generally prefer emailing.
There are also two key ways to send out the release, do it yourself or hiring a news release distribution company. Here are some popular new distribution service companies I would recommend; www.prnewswire.com, www.businesswire.com or www.prwebdirect.com.
If you decide to email the release yourself, don’t worry if you don’t know anyone in the media. The Internet has made it easy for you to get the names and email addresses of media personnel that you are targeting, by simply going to their respective websites and doing some homework. It might take a little digging, but chances are, the email address for these folks are available on the website.
A key tip, since the media gets tons of emails, put your headline in the subject line of your email note. Again, we live in a hurry-up, headline driven world today. The key is to get the journalist to be immediately interested in your email note.
If you can’t get them interested in the subject line, chances are they will delete the email note, even before glancing at the body of your note and attached news release.
In part 3, I will write about:
1. Being your own PR firm
2. Famous PR quotes
3. Using the power of free publicity