Pointers on Promotion

I’ve been a business writer for more than 30 years, including time serving as the editor of two small monthly business magazines. I’ve also managed marketing and promotions for several nonprofits and a couple of arts organizations.

On that last note, I can tell you that my favorite public relations idea was many, many years ago while I was producing Shakespeare in the Park with the estimable director John Grimsley and his Dog and Pony Theater Company.  I got up bright and early the day we opened to prepare a delicious Caesar salad. I then dropped it off at WWL with a note and a press release about our production of “Julius Caesar.”

I asked that the salad and note be delivered to Eric Paulsen (because everyone always sent things to Sally Ann Roberts). This effort resulted in about five minutes of coverage with funny banter about the salad and our production.

That night we had a big audience for our inaugural performance. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that Maureen Brennan McConnell, local actor and the most creative person I know, came up with the idea; I just executed it.)

I share this example because it’s a fairly good instance of an effective marketing strategy — be different. Remember too that press releases also need to be about things that are unique, timely and provocative. Think about what will get editors excited, so excited that they just have to share the news with their readers.

Small businesses struggle trying to do it all and finding funds for marketing is tough. Good advertising comes from repetition and that’s really expensive. So it can’t hurt to attempt to get some editorial coverage for your business — after all, it’s free.

The following are a few tips I’ve garnered throughout the years.

1) Make sure you’re relevant.

Most magazines have a yearly editorial calendar that has specific topics, such as medicine or construction, for each month. Get those calendars, the sales department usually have them.  Check the calendars and send your releases to fit a specific month.

2) Make sure you’re timely.

Also, please, keep track of the publication’s deadlines. Far too often editors get great press releases that we can’t use because we’ve already gone to press. I kept an accordion folder and when a press release came in that I thought would work for an issue I’d plop it in the relevant slot so that when I assigned articles I had lots of options. Also take some time to research regional and national trade magazines that highlight your kind of business. It can’t hurt.

I was always surprised that so few exciting press releases came across my e-mail feed and how oh so many came too late for me to use.Remember, a catchy title is great, but the most important thing about your press release is that you offer the editor something new, unique and exciting.

3) Don’t be afraid to keep editors informed.

Don’t be afraid to send a release every other month or so. The worst that can happen is that they don’t use the information, but the best is that they get to know you and might use you as an expert in your field or highlight your business.There are numerous topics that are appropriate for press releases.

Here’s a list of just a few:

  • A new or unique product or service
  • New and interesting uses for your products or services
  • Exciting findings from a new study or research in your field
  • Celebrating an important company anniversary (e.g. 100 years in business)
  • Partnering with another business or organization, hiring a new executive or changing ownership of the company.

Essentially, to all you business owners and public relations people out there, remember, all it takes is a little organization and creativity to be more effective in promoting a business.


Categories: Labors of Love