One advantage of being your own publicist is that you know your product or service better than anyone else does. A great amount of time and effort can be expended apprising a PR firm or freelance publicist of your company and its products or services. Even so, no one will have the same enthusiasm for your company that you do. This sense of excitement will serve you well as you spread the word about your product or service and its consumer benefits.
It is probably a lot easier than you might think to create a “pitch” letter, develop a press release, find and approach media contacts, and make follow-up calls.
Create the Hook
To create your own publicity, you need to communicate your story to those who access the public through the media—the Internet, television, radio, newspapers, and/or magazines. You need to develop a “hook,” or a compelling reason why someone should listen to your story. Media contacts must feel strongly that knowledge of your product or service would be of some value to their audience. Take time to build a cohesive “pitch” that really conveys the unique qualities and benefits of your product or service.
Furthermore, even if you managed to get a story picked up that was more or less just an advertisement touting the incredible benefits of your product, chances are that its effectiveness would be muted. To get the public’s attention, you should give them some takeaway value. That’s right—give them some information that they can use for free. Give them at least three specific useful information points, and ideally five.
If you really want to “sell” your audience, you can’t sound like you are selling them. And they can’t feel like they have been sold. Audiences want to “buy,” not be “sold.” And to get them to buy from you, they first have to like you and your company, and they have to feel that you want to help them. Publicity personifies your company and your product or service.
Make a List
Make a list of media contacts that you think would be interested in your product or service. Prioritize the list and decide what you want to tell each contact. This will give you a good idea of how much time you will need to spend compiling and sending press materials, as well as placing follow-up telephone calls.
Create a Mini Press Kit
It isn’t necessary to send an elaborate press kit to get an Internet, newspaper, magazine, or broadcast outlet to tell your story. If you are doing your own publicity, it is often just as effective to send a personalized “pitch” letter by email to your media contacts.
In the past, you may have put together a press kit with maybe a press release, background information, pictures, and more. But today you can create a media landing page on the website for every publicity campaign you do. Then just link or refer the media to that page.
Follow Up with a Phone Call
Follow up your mailings with a phone call to each media contact. If you fail to get through the first time or if your media contact is too busy to talk to you, be persistent. When you do manage to get through, ideally make an appointment to visit your contact. If you can’t get through at all, try leaving a voice mail pitching the media worthiness of your product or service. Keep it really short. Chances are they will only listen for a few seconds.
Take Extensive Notes to the Meeting
If you sent your media contact a simple “pitch” letter and press release, you need to take additional material relating to your product or service to your media contact meeting. Even if it is all on your website, take printed copies anyway. Product samples, testimonials, brochures, and a list of current vendors or consumers (with their permission) that use or carry your product or service will assist you in conveying an interesting and powerful story about your company. And finally, prepare yourself for your media meeting by creating a list of possible questions the media representative might ask you. Be ready with answers!
Doing your own publicity can at first seem like a daunting undertaking! But it’s hard for experienced PR firms, too. The results for every publicity campaign are different. And promoting most products and services—especially to major media outlets—is a challenge. So reach for the largest and best outlets you can. But be sure to put plenty of energy into smaller, more local, and more specialized media outlets with which you have a more realistic chance of success. The bottom line is that you can do your own publicity!
Takeaways You Can Use
- Create a short, convincing “hook.”
- Give your audience at least three useful takeaways.
- Preparation will make you a pro.