Posts Tagged ‘public relations’
May 23, 2013 by Kay Paumier
Regular readers know that I routinely provide ideas for tying publicity and marketing into observances.
For example, did you know that August 18 is Bad Poetry Day (www.wellcat.com)? This is a great opportunity for schools and writing groups to do surveys or contests. Ask people what their favorite bad poem is. Invite people to write bad poetry.
San Jose State University has done this very successfully for years with its Bulwer Lytton contest. The annual event, named after the writer of “It as a dark and stormy night,” asks people to write the worst beginning of a novel. The contest now gets entries from all over the world, and a great deal of publicity each year.
Here are some other observances for the month of August:
- Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month – blindness prevention www.preventblindness.org
- Get Ready for Kindergarten Month – celebrating a happy entry into kindergarten
- National Immunization Awareness Month – prevention of life-threatening diseases
- What Will Be Your Legacy Month – impact on future generations www.jirehpublishers.com
And here are some other days and weeks celebrated in August:
- August 1, 1990: Celebration of World Wide Web Anniversary
- August 3: National Mustard Day – celebrating mustard slathered on food www.mustardmuseum.com
- August 4 – 10: National Exercise With Your Child – encouraging parents and guardians to exercise with their children www.sheilamadison.com/exerciseyourchildweek.html
- August 4 – 10: Single Working Women’s Week – honoring single working women www.swwan.org
- August 4: Sisters’ Day – celebrating the spirit of sisterhood
- August 15: National Relaxation Day – improving lifestyle through relaxation
- August 18: Serendipity Day – celebrating unexpected discoveries www.serendipitydayholiday.com
- August 25, 1916: anniversary of the foundation of the National Parks
- August 26: National Dog Day – honoring the love and loyalty of dogs www.nationaldogday.com
What can you do with events like these?
May 9, 2013 by Kay Paumier
I have watched, with interest, as Tesla has defended itself against a negative product review in The New York Times.
Until recently, this could have been disastrous, but Musk took to Twitter. Of course, he had an advantage. The car’s data-monitoring system indicated the reviewer undercharged the battery, didn’t set the cruise control to 54 m.p.h. to save energy as he had claimed, and cranked up the heat as the charge faded.
Only time will tell whether consumers believe Musk’s tweets (and the tweets of other Tesla fans) more than they believe the photo of the Tesla being loaded into a flatbed.
The episode reminded me of experiences I’ve had with product reviews over the years. These reviews happened before sites like Amazon became powerhouse review resources, and before online social networking gave companies a real chance to fight back.
They happened when we had few options to fight a poor review. Sure, we could (and did) complain to the reviewer, refuse to participate in future reviews, explain our side of the story to our customers and business partners, and pitch other reviews to other publications. But in those days, we couldn’t take our case directly to the public as Musk has done with the Tesla review.
Here are some stories.
In one case, my client fired the technical contact we had given the publication, but let him stay on the job for two weeks. (An interesting concept, indeed.) In that timeframe, the reviewer called and the tech contact trashed the product. The reviewer believed him. The resulting review said that my client’s technology product was good as a door stop, little else. And our subsequent contacts with the editor got us nowhere.
Then there was the competitive review when the AT&T business phone got an “A” and all the competing phones (including my client’s) got “C’s.” The phones were very similar; we thought they were all “B’s.” Then we learned that the reviewer (a freelancer the magazine had hired for the review) was an award-winning reseller for AT&T. We notified the magazine, saying that we did not feel the review was fair because the reviewer had a vested interest. (The magazine ignored us.) We – and all the other companies in the first review – refused to participate in other reviews in that publication. But a new company did and the result was the same: an “A” for AT&T and a “C” for the other product. (Note: this is not to disparage AT&T which, in all likelihood, did not know about the subterfuge.)
Another time a competitor contacted a reporter, pretending to be “just an interested end-user.” The competitor said he had tested several products, and gave his “test” results to the reporter. The gullible reporter printed the information only to learn that the “interested end-user” had a vested interest indeed, and that the highest ranking product came from his company. The editor was duly embarrassed, and I doubt that the offending company ever got coverage in that magazine again. (My client’s product was not included in the “test,” so experienced neither a positive or negative impact from the episode.)
And a final example. We were promoting a home-networking product that was designed for the latest computer hardware and software. For some inexplicable reason, the reviewer decided to cobble together a network from used computer parts and outdated products for his test bed. Not surprisingly, my client’s product–and all the products in the review–got poor marks because they were all geared for up-to-date technology, not left-overs from previous years. The products made these perfectly clear in their user manuals. Again, we contacted the magazine to explain the discrepancy and ask for a new review, to no avail.
Today, I often check reviews before making a purchase, especially a technology product. I know how flawed the system can be, and yet it still helps to see what people think about a product. And some sites, such as CNET, PCMag.com and Consumers’ Reports, have good reputations for objectivity.
I am glad they have. And I am happy I now can respond if the review is totally off base.
May 2, 2013 by Kay Paumier
- The Pew Research Center indicates that confidence in traditional media has decreased every year during the past 10 years.
- Fully 46 percent of the U.S. public gets their news online at least once a week while a third (32 percent) seeks out online news every day.
- 25 million people record and watch major evening newscasts, but only 8 percent of the 315 million U.S. population tunes in.
- About 93 percent of the U.S. population claims that they listen to radio at some point during the day.
- Nielsen estimates that there are nearly 180 million blogs in the world.
- Blogger software service WordPress says that it adds another 100,000 daily.
- And PR professionals now outnumber journalists 4:1.
These are some of the sobering statistics in the article “Sourcing Information: the Impact of ‘Pageview Journalism’” in Public Relations Tactics (March 2013, Public Relations Society of America).
What does all that mean?
I think it means both challenges and opportunities.
- It is certainly harder and harder for PR professionals to reach journalists.
- It is harder for professional journalists to reach their intended audiences.
- Media and sources of information are more and more fragmented.
- Credibility is definitely threatened.
- Traditional (mainstream) media is shrinking.
- Gullibility is both rampant (witness all the online scams) and extinct (witness the lack of confidence in traditional media).
- The opportunities for inaccurate information to go viral increase each day.
- The need for analysis will increase.
- Organizations have more ways to reach their “publics” directly.
- PR professionals can definitely take up the slack in terms of research and preparation of good stories, visuals and the like.
- Traditional media needs the help of PR professionals, probably more than ever before.
- As stated earlier, the need for analysis—for someone to put the factoids into context—will become greater and greater. Another opportunity for PR professionals to shine.
What will happen in the next few years? Probably an acceleration of the trends (e.g., fragmentation of the media, dearth of context and analysis, decrease in the number and quality of traditional media outlets) that have created our present situation. And what that will bring about, I hesitate to speculate.
April 25, 2013 by Kay Paumier
As you may know, I’m a fan of capitalizing on observances to generate publicity. The trick is to find and capitalize on the ones that fit your product or service. By tying your product or service into something bigger, you increase your chance for publicity and attention.
It is important to think ahead and plan such tie-ins. We all know that July has Independence Day. But there are a lot of other lesser-known (and more targeted) observances. For example, did you know that July is Cell Phone Courtesy Month?
What could you do with that? Well, if you have any connection with cell phones (e.g., a retailer or a cell phone service provider) or with business, you could consider generating publicity by:
- Holding a contest asking people to write in their cell phone pet peeves
- Writing up tips on good cell phone etiquette
- Developing your own “top 10” list of pet peeves
Get the idea? Here are some other potential observances for the month of July:
Here are some individual days celebrated in July:
- July 1, 1862: Bureau of Internal Revenue Established (a good excuse for accountants to get into the news again)
- July 1, 1847: First U.S. Postage Stamps Issued
- July 1, 1968: Medicare Went into Effect
- July 1: Second Half of the New Year Day (A midyear checkpoint)
- July 2, 2002: First Solo Round-the-world Balloon Flight
- July 2: Made in the USA Day (www.madeusafdn.org)
- July 4: Independence Day (Of course)
- July 7: Father-Daughter Take a Walk Together Day (great for family counselors, teachers, personal trainers)
- July 20: Toss Away the “Could Haves” and “Should Haves” Day www.jirehpublishers.com
- July 27: Walk on Stilts Day (www.stiltwalker.com) (A discussion about “stretching yourself”?)
- July 28: Anniversary of the Start of World War I
You can learn more about these and other observances through Chase’s Calendar of Events, which is available at Amazon and at other leading book stores.
April 18, 2013 by Kay Paumier
In my previous post, I discussed these five ways to announce a product:
- Special Interest group
- Web conference
Here are three other ways to make an announcement.
#6: Trade Shows
I am not a fan of introducing products at trade shows, but it can make sense in some circumstances. If that is your case, I recommend arranging one-on-one interviews. Start contacting reporters and analysts about six weeks before the show (depending on its size and type) and give them enough information to get them interested, but not enough so they could report on the story without seeing you.
Depending on the type of product, you might find a way to make the “pitch” illustrate the product benefit. For example, a 3-D imaging company sent the media invitations that needed 3-D glasses to read. The company was almost overwhelmed with media attention, in spite of competition from much larger, better-known companies at the trade show.
Another possibility is to announce your product before the show. Many publications and websites have “show preview” issues. Generally you’ll get better coverage in those than you would in the after-show articles when you’re competing with everyone else.
#7: Press Conferences
I am also not a fan of press conferences. By definition, they require significant news and important people. Few announcements qualify.
However, if yours does, make sure you invite the media in plenty of time. Schedule the conference early in the day. Put out fewer chairs than you expect attendees, so it can look as if you’ve generated more interest than expected as you pull out more chairs. Practice the presentation and review possible questions. Videotape the presentation for use on the website afterwards and, for that matter, for a way to evaluate the effectiveness of the presentation.
#8: Media Tours
A media tour means you travel to the reporters to meet them in their offices. This can be very time-consuming, but can yield enormous benefits. After all, the reporters like the fact that you take the time and trouble to visit them. You get one-on-one face time in a fairly controlled environment, and you can tailor your presentation for the individual reporter.
Start at least two months beforehand, contacting the reporters and analysts. Get a good (no, a great) travel agent to help with logistics. And recognize that things will go wrong. (In one case, the company spokesperson and I were in a traffic accident while en route to a live TV appearance in Boston. We made it…with about 20 seconds to spare!)
A Final Note
In all this, I’m assuming that you have your other announcement “ducks in a row, e.g., that you have notified the appropriate people internally and externally, that you are supporting the launch through your social media channels, and the like.
April 11, 2013 by Kay Paumier
New products are the lifeblood of many companies. They can provide the bulk of the revenue, and give the company the opportunity to become better known.
Yet getting media attention for new products is difficult, if only because so many new products are announced each year.
Even given the product “noise,” however, it is possible to effectively publicize new products. Here are eight approaches to publicizing a new product.
Note: I’m assuming you’ve already done your homework. You’ve studied the competition and market. You have set your goals for the announcement, and developed your positioning statement and messages.
So now you’re considering the importance of the product, the size of your budget, your timeframe, and other priorities as you decide on your announcement method.
Here are five approaches you might consider, arranged in the approximate order of difficulty. I’ll give three more approaches in my next post.
#1: Blog Announcement
Probably the simplest approach is to just make your announcement in your blog. Companies like Tesla and Netflix have been doing this very successfully. Of course, this only works if you have a large enough following to make an impact, which probably means your company is big enough (or interesting enough) to “make waves” whenever you announce something. And, if you are a public company, you need to abide by all SEC rulings regarding disclosure. But that is another topic.
#2: Specialized Group Announcement
Another approach is to simply make the announcement to a special-interest group. For example, a software company could announce a new version to the user groups devoted to its software.
This is certainly simple and probably can stimulate sales quickly. However, it has the disadvantage of “preaching to the choir.” The approach decidedly limits the scope and reach of the announcement.
#3: Barebones Announcement
For the barebones announcement, you would write a good release and distribute it over a wire service and individually to the media who are particularly important to you.
If your news is newsworthy and your release well-written, this may all you need to do. This is all I did years ago when I was announcing a new online service. Within 24 hours, Fidelity Investments had called my client and signed up for a trial.
#4: Minimalist Announcement
One simple way to augment the barebones announcement is by doing some telephone and local media interviews. For this to work, you need to contact the reporters before the announcement. (Don’t be like the company that, after it had made an announcement, contacted me to see if I would pitch the story to “my friends in the media.” Too late.)
If you are going to do interviews, make sure you train your spokesperson. Plan how you’ll approach the announcement. Think about the questions the media might ask and decide how you would answer them.
#5: Web conference
Web conferences are relatively inexpensive, provide a way to pace people through a presentation or demo, and enable people to interact in real time. They also let you reach people in different areas easily and cost-effectively.
However, it’s important that the web conference go smoothly. Incorporate as many visual elements as possible. Do not commit “death by Powerpoint” and subject your audience to word slide after word slide.
Include as many interactive elements (e.g., surveys) as possible. Encourage people to send in questions, and explain up front when they will be answered (e.g., as they come in, at the end of the presentation). Also encourage people to contact you afterwards, and follow up with the attendees after the fact.
These five are some of the simplest and least-expensive ways to announce a product. I’ll discuss three other, more complex ways in my next post.
January 24, 2013 by
From Groundhog Day to an Elvis anniversary, it can seem that every day is earmarked for one observation or another. Sometimes it is well-known (e.g., Mother’s Day). Other observances are much more specific and sometimes even obscure.
Observances, however, offer a good opportunity for publicity. The trick is to find and capitalize on the ones that fit your product or service. By tying your product or service into something bigger, you increase your chance for publicity and attention.
For an offbeat example, Limerick Day (May 12th) provides the opportunity for a school to run a limerick competition, giving them a chance to promote the school’s creative writing department.
While not tied to a specific day, the English Department at San Jose State University has successfully run a similar competition since 1982. The whimsical Bulwer-Lytton contest, which challenges entrants to “compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels,” gets entries from all over the world.
Get the idea? Here are some other potential observances for the month of May:
Here are some observations that last either a day or a week:
- Executive Coaching Day (May 1)
- Keep Kids Alive: Drive 25 Day (May 1)
- Labor Day (May 1)
- National Return to Work Week (May 12-18)
- Anniversary of the release of the movie “Star Wars” (May 25, 1977)
These are taken from 2013 Chase’s Calendar of Events, a resource I highly recommend. Note: Neither Chase nor I warrant this information. So if something here “fits” your product or service, I recommend you check with the sponsors to see if the observation is still being promoted.
January 10, 2013 by
In my last post, I covered five ways to improve the effectiveness of your product launch:
- Involve the reporters, readers or viewers.
- Provide product samples.
- Arrange product reviews.
- Enlarge the announcement.
- Position the announcement as part of a trend.
Here are five more time-tested techniques to help your new product stand out in the crowd.
6. Prepare good visuals.
Editors of both online and offline publications need good visuals. Put some thought into an innovative photo or a good, eye-catching diagram. Some companies are using infographics to introduce their products, bypassing the traditional news release altogether.
Over the years, I’ve used everything from regular screen shots and “people pictures” to turn-of-the century ads and original cartoons. Almost always, those visuals have paid off handsomely in significant coverage.
7. Report on the product’s benefits
Make the product’s usefulness, purpose and benefit central to the story. When Roku and Netflix introduced the Netflix Player by Roku™, they emphasized that the device “enables Netflix subscribers to instantly stream a growing library of movies and TV episodes from Netflix directly to the TV.” They also pointed out that “the player is simple to install, easy to use and gives Netflix members instant access to more than 10,000 movies and TV episodes.”
The two companies did not describe the intricacies of the technology, or the details of their partnership. Instead they focused on what the viewer would get from the device.
8. Use the Web.
Capitalize on online tools. Before the announcement “seed” the announcement by participating in online industry or consumer groups related to the product. Respond to questions and offer advice freely. This will help position you as an expert, which will help your credibility come announcement time.
On announcement day, distribute the release over a wire service. Post information on LinkedIn and, if appropriate, Facebook, Pinterest and the like. Tweet your announcement. Provide all product information – visuals, demos, video – online. And, at bare minimum, post your announcement on your website. It may seem too obvious to mention, but it is overlooked only too often.
9. Capitalize on the media’s plans.
Monitor editorial calendars (listings of feature articles that the media has planned). It’s possible the editors are planning to cover a topic that might “fit” your product.
For example, I pitched a case study to an editor who had scheduled a story on construction management. The article, which covered 75 percent of a tabloid-size page, appeared before we had even formally launched my client’s construction management software, greatly enhancing the announcement that followed.
10. Present a historical perspective.
A “look backwards” can be a fun way to generate interest. We used that technique to introduce a treatment for menstrual cramps. I researched turn-of-the-century treatments and discovered Lydia Pickham’s Pink Pills (which were mainly alcohol). We included copies of Lydia’s ads in our press materials. (The copyright had expired.) Those ads were featured in dozens of articles and TV programs, increasing the general appeal of the announcement.
In short, think about how you can enhance your product announcement. Sometimes a little extra thought and care can dramatically increase your publicity.
January 3, 2013 by
Getting media attention for a new product is increasingly difficult. These days it’s not good enough to send out a news release. If you want to stand out in the crowd, you may need to add something extra or take a slightly different approach.
Here are the first five of 10 proven techniques to consider.
1. Involve the reporters, readers or viewers.
Having the reporter or readers participate in the story can be quite effective. For example, I suggested a newspaper invite its unemployed readers to volunteer for a job-search “experiment.” The readers could work with my client, the author of a book on effective job searches, and the editor could report on the results. This approach gave a human-interest side to a topic that could otherwise deteriorate into a parade of depressing stories about unemployment.
2. Provide product samples.
Getting editors to see, touch and use your product can be powerful. A lipstick received a half-page spread in a major newspaper, mainly because the company had supplied samples and the writers described their experience with the product.
3. Arrange product reviews.
For some products, a formal review may be in order. I have managed programs where the bulk of the publicity – and the sales leads – came from the product reviews.
Of course, make sure that the product will do well. (No review is better than a bad one.) Learn as much as you can about the reviewer in advance; prepare a good reviewers’ guide and stay in touch with the reviewer. Some of my clients have transformed potentially poor reviews into excellent ones simply by resolving some technical issues while the review was in process.
4. Enlarge the announcement.
Make the announcement bigger. For example, you can tie the announcement together with related, but non-competitive businesses.
A participant in one of my PR workshops did that quite effectively. She had started a dating service for obese people, but did not have a single client, so she had no credibility. However, she connected with other companies providing services to obese people, and crafted a story about the increased market for such products and services. She ended up on the front page of the San Jose Mercury News – not a small accomplishment.
5. Position the announcement as part of a trend.
Editors love trends. Lately it seems most technology products are either “iPhone compatible,” or “cloud based,” both major trends.
Note: Editors also love it when something is “bucking the trend.” So if your product is extremely different from what your competitors are doing, play that up.
I’ll cover the next five ways to improve your product launch in my next post. In the meantime, what techniques have you found effective? I’ve love to hear about them.
November 29, 2012 by Kay Paumier
In my two previous posts, I discussed six ways to market a service business:
- Develop a good website
- Use LinkedIn
- Consider Facebook
- Develop story ideas
- Track editorial calendars
- Capitalize on “opportunistic PR”
Here are two more time-tested techniques.
Develop effective visuals.
There is incredible competition for space in magazines and newspapers except for good visuals. Editors need photographs or illustrations to draw attention to the text, break up the page visually, and help tell the story. And the need for good visuals is as acute online as off.
Start a file of photographs or illustrations that catch your eye and tell a story. They may spark ideas when you need some inspiration.
If you’re planning to get a photograph taken, first sketch out what you want it to say.
Also consider infographics, diagrams, charts and the like, all of which can be incredibly effective. For example, a pharmaceutical firm developed a board-game-like diagram that illustrated the FDA approval cycle. I saw that illustration more than a decade ago, but still remember it because it was so effective.
You may not routinely have news, but you can “create news.” So hold a contest. Take a survey. Celebrate an anniversary. Announce a list.
Depending on the type of news you create, you may have several publicity opportunities:
- Announcing the contest, event and the like.
- Reminding people of the deadline or event date.
- Announcing the list, or the contest results and winners.
- Inviting the media to the event.
- Providing pictures to the media.
Write letters to the editor and editorials.
One of the most obvious—and often overlooked—opportunity is a letter to the editor. It’s a standing joke in some editorial circles that the best writing is in the letter to the editor section. That popular section is often better read than many other sections.
One important item: you have the best chance for pick-up if you tie the letter directly into the news or a recent article, and submit your letter in a timely manner.
Another good outlet is a guest editorial. Most newspapers use editorials, as do many business journals, some magazines and some online publications. You can submit an abstract (a paragraph describing your idea) first, but usually publications want to see the finished editorial.
I hope by now you see that, although success is not automatic, it is possible to market a service business. Try some of these ideas and let me know your results.