Want the world to know who you are, what your company offers, or the urgency of your cause? With the popularity of the Internet, it’s never been easier for an ordinary Jane or Joe to use publicity to spread the word. Whether you want to attract new business, establish yourself as an expert, build your company’s reputation, or introduce a new concept to the community, free publicity is the cheapest, most credible way to do it.
This thoroughly updated edition of 6 Steps to Free Publicity includes detailed tips and techniques for utilizing 21st century grassroots publicity techniques—from blogs and social media to viral videos and podcasting—along with the basics of earning ink or air time. It also covers:
- * Getting started—how to overcome fears, feel comfortable with fame, and think up newsworthy publicity angles.
- * How to write tip sheets, pitch letters, articles, and news releases that roll out your message and keep you in people’s minds and files.
- * How to perform on radio, TV, or the Web like a pro.
- * Publicity writing tips that ensure you’ll be easily found online through search engines.
- * Strategies for building an audience of fervent fans online or within a geographical or special-interest community.
- * A full range of attention-getting techniques, from wacky and quirky to serious and highly respectable.
Read 6 Steps to Free Publicity with highlighter and notebook in hand, because it inspires creative exploits and powerful publicity campaigns...that cost next to nothing!
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About the Author
Author of 11 books, Marcia Yudkin has been turning words into money since 1981, when her first freelance article appeared in The New York Times. She is the author of Web Site Marketing Makeover and Internet Marketing for Less than $500/Year. She has landed publicity in The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Success Magazine, Women in Business, USBanker, and dozens of newspapers around the world. Yudkin lives in Goshen, Massachusetts.
Read an Excerpt
Riches ... Credibility ... Prestige ... Opportunity-What Publicity Can Do for You
On September 13, 1990, I settled into a middle seat onboard a USAir flight to San Francisco, trying to keep my excited glow from irking half-awake fellow passengers. A silver-haired woman arranged pillows on the aisle seat and started a conversation. Her third question punctured my restraint.
"I'm a writer and a writing consultant," I replied, and nodded toward a flight attendant who was passing out newspapers. "My partner and I have a company called WordRight. We're in The Wall Street Journal today."
She tilted her head sideways. Her eyes widened.
"Page one," I added, allowing myself a grin.
We got up to let by a well-scrubbed man who took off his shoes and introduced himself as a congressman from San Diego. As if to match that, my new acquaintance jerked a thumb at me. "This lady here is in today's Wall Street Journal."
At his look of respect, a little more pride seeped into my smile, and, after our seatmate had closed her eyes, I traded stories and experiences with the congressman for most of the flight.
But media publicity can do a lot more for you than feed your ego and enable you to impress strangers on airplanes.
Publicity can sell your products or services without the burdensome expense of advertising. The makers of the game Trivial Pursuit had no advertising budget. Instead, by sending sample games or just the cards to game-industry buyers, celebrities who were mentioned in the game, and disk jockeys, they created a stir the media had to keep reporting. Consequently, sales reached $1.5 million the year the game was introduced. Around the same time, The Wall Street Journal ran a feature article about the "streetfighter marketing" ideas of Jeff Slutsky, who ran a one-man consulting business out of his home. "The day the article came out, my phone started ringing at 6 a.m.," he recalls. "It literally didn't stop until 10 p.m., and I got a steady flow of calls from that article for three years." Slutsky's free publicity translated into $50,000 of product sales in the first 90 days — "and big clients," he adds.
Publicity helps you rise above your competition. The more media appearances you rack up, the more your name comes to mind when people think "pediatrician" or "dating for nerds." The effect keeps building on itself in a three-stage cycle: You earn publicity by setting yourself apart from the competition; then it gives you a higher profile; then, feeling better about yourself, you easily make yourself still more visible. "It's a terrific confidence booster," says Steve Schiffman, a New York City sales trainer whose decades of publicity add up to his getting recognized on the street. "You develop poise and learn how to handle difficult questions. If you do radio and TV regularly, you can cope with anything."
Publicity bestows on you lucrative credibility. Media appearances greatly boost the perceived value of whatever you offer the public. When Boston actor Norman George sends out a full-page feature story from People magazine about him playing Edgar Allan Poe, theaters and cultural organizations take him seriously. Linda Barbanel, a New York City therapist who specializes in the psychology of money, says that the cumulative effect of 600-plus-and-rising media appearances was a quadrupling of her speaking fees.
Publicity can create profitable, unexpected opportunities. A question-and-answer feature about my work on creativity in the Sunday Boston Globe business section prompted Horizon Media in nearby Quincy to call and ask if I would be interested in collaborating on videos about creativity. "Yes!" I said to this proposal that I would not have thought up on my own. We worked on three training videos together and a pilot for a public TV series. Half a year after the Globe piece, a six-line notice that cost me nothing in the newsletter Bottom Line/Personal led to my contract for this book. (More about this later.)
Publicity can crown you as an expert. After Debbi Karpowicz promoted her humor book, I Love Men in Tasseled Loafers, on TV and radio stations, she was invited back as a dating expert. Because, as she puts it, her book chronicles dating disasters from the standpoint of a woman who loves shoes, the media also treated her as an expert on footwear. Similarly, when Claire McCarthy, a communication consultant in North Andover, Massachusetts, promoted a workshop she was offering called "How to Write a Love Letter," the Lawrence Eagle Tribune ran a three-quarters-of-a-page profile of her, and she received two write-ups in the Boston Herald. Even though the workshop never received enough registrants to run, the coverage prompted North Shore Magazine to interview McCarthy as a romance expert.
Publicity can give potential clients a long, close look at you. Merle Bombardieri, a clinical social worker in Lexington, Massachusetts, knows that her TV appearances have prompted people who needed counseling to call her. "Sometimes they had already heard of me, but people find it difficult to open their hearts to a perfect stranger," Bombardieri says. "They're afraid that a therapist might be judgmental or arrogant. But when they see someone on TV they get a sense of that person's personality and style. Several people who saw me on TV said that I seemed like an intelligent, approachable person with a sense of humor, and that made it much easier for them to call."
Publicity often rallies public support to your cause. Roughly 5,000 print articles and countless radio and TV stories contributed to 1 million people participating in the first annual Take Our Daughters to Work Day in 1993. Hundreds of millions more became aware of its goal of increasing the self-esteem and career awareness of adolescent girls. In 2003 and 2004, studies reported steep declines in women's use of hormone replacement therapy following negative findings on HRT discussed in more than 400 newspaper stories and 2,500 TV or radio stories. "It is hard to imagine another mechanism besides media influence that would explain how the message got out so quickly," two medical commentators wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Quite likely, this publicity saved lives.
Publicity for good works earns you community good will. For 15 years after founding The Body Shop, Anita Roddick abstained from any advertising for her natural cosmetics. Instead she attracted mounds of media attention because of her environmental and social activism. One project of hers, "Trade, Not Aid," helped native cultures around the world to prosper by growing ingredients for her cosmetics. Roddick also organized a campaign to refurbish Romanian orphanages, and another for voter registration. At one point, The Body Shop estimated that it was receiving about $3.5 million worth of free publicity a year. People who admired the company's passionate stands "understand that purchases support a good cause," observed Working Woman, "and as a result are more likely to buy."
Publicity has the power to counteract stereotypes. When I visited Taos Pueblo in the early 1990s, I noticed and read a newspaper clipping framed on a shop wall about a Pueblo man making language videos for the tribe's young people. "Is this you?" I asked the shop-keeper, a silversmith. "My brother," he said. The conversation started by that clipping, during which I learned that the silversmith had studied dentistry at Harvard, opened my eyes about the sort of people who would choose to live and work in a traditional Native American setting. Similarly, articles in the Boston media about Empire Loan, a pawnshop, relieved me of the notion that only seedy, unshaven characters, thieves, and heiresses who had overspent their trust fund frequented pawnshops.
Publicity gets your message across in a seemingly objective manner.Wall Street Journal executive editor Frederick Taylor once admitted that as much as 90 percent of its daily news originates in self-interested news releases. Yet when the public reads what reporters have done with that information, it tends to trust and respect, as rarely happens with advertising. Breakthrough Software Corporation received dramatic proof of this credibility difference when it spent $6,000 to advertise one of its programs and received 100 responses. A free, favorable magazine review of the same program, however, generated 900 responses. The most influential media mentions, such as on the front page of the newspaper, aren't available at any price.
Publicity may make you eligible for professional recognition. To earn the designation "Professional Member" in the Association of Image Consultants International, among many other requirements, you have to have received media publicity. In the classical music world, organizations that award grants to community music groups take local media coverage as an important sign of community impact and interest. Not only do the grants bestow prestige, but they also often spell the difference between financial survival and failure. For scientists and medical researchers, media coverage leads to more citations by other scientists, sometimes used as a measure of influence in decisions on hiring and promotion. A 1991 study revealed that research covered in The New York Times received 73 percent more scholarly citations the next year than research reported only in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Publicity can greatly broaden your audience. A new biography of Abraham Lincoln normally would have interest mainly for a limited circle of historians and history buffs. However, Michael Burlingame, a history professor at Connecticut College, sent a copy of his biography of our Civil War president to a reporter in Springfield, Illinois, who had been helpful to him. The reporter wrote a story about the book that went out on the AP newswire and ended up not only in dozens of newspapers across the country, but also in David Letterman's nightly humorous take on current affairs.
Publicity increases traffic to your Website. The traffic boost occurs at four levels. First, even if the media doesn't include a direct link to your Website or mention its address, people who read about you will often search for you and end up at your Website through a roundabout means. Second, when articles posted online include a link to your site, readers click through, learn lots more about you, and may wind up becoming customers, donors, or clients. Third, when the media or others link to your site as part of or a result of your publicity, the probability of your site coming up in a later Internet search increases. And fourth, even if no media outlets pick up your story, when your news announcement goes out online through newsfeeds and news sites, interested people often find and read your announcement or visit your site because the news release itself lifts your profile in the search engines.
Publicity can provide the occasion for outrageous fun. Providence, Rhode Island entertainer Ron Bianco recalls sitting in his kitchen laughing out loud while he was planning a campaign to run his dog Bilbo, who was part of his folk-singing act, for president. In East Windsor, Connecticut, John Collins found a way to attract attention and have a blast with his otherwise unremarkable fledgling business of recycling toner cartridges from laser printers. A tongue-in-cheek article in his local paper, the Journal Inquirer, carried the headline, "It's a bird, it's a plane ... no, it's Toner Man!" and showed him in a Superman-like costume. An employee said Collins's appearances as Toner Man helped relieve stress on the job.
* * *
In today's economic climate, shooting for free media coverage makes especially good sense. Rochester, New York consultant and author Harvey Kaye says that 40 years ago, engineers were such a small percentage of the population that people who needed their services sought them out. His father, a professor at MIT, never had to do any marketing. Today, however, so many technical experts crowd the market that if they don't promote themselves, he says, it's career suicide. The same goes for therapists, restaurant owners, Web designers, hairdressers, accountants, and most others in business for themselves. The old saying, "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door," is not true today, if it ever was. People first need to know about your door from advertising or its cheaper and more credible alternative, publicity.
Publicity costs you nothing but time and energy, and, sometimes, money for distribution. Even better, you don't need a degree in public relations to receive the benefits enumerated in this chapter. 6 Steps to Free Publicity takes you step by step through the process, including finding a hook that snags the interest of the media, writing or calling them, doing your best to ensure that your message gets through to the appropriate audience, and cementing relationships that enhance your opportunities for repeated media exposure, along with techniques that directly spread your message online to millions. In the coming chapters you learn:
How to strategize about the appropriate goals, focus, and target audience for your publicity efforts.
Why publicity doesn't necessarily involve hype and how to find the method of gaining publicity that feels most comfortable for you.
How to write, format, and send a news release that has the best chance of resulting in media coverage.
Other ways to attract the interest of the media, such as making a phone pitch, writing letters to reporters and editors, and staging unique events.
How to spread word of mouth by neatly encapsulating your message, getting friendly with the media, and being memorable.
The dos and don'ts of dealing with reporters, producers, bloggers, and other media folks.
How to perform on radio, TV, video, or the Web like a pro.
Ways to come up with creative publicity approaches and carve out the time to execute them.
How to go beyond what Andy Warhol called everyone's "15 minutes of fame" to a lasting media presence for you, your business, or your cause.
Throughout the book you encounter examples of real people who used the methods I describe to get their word out. I've concentrated on low-cost, high-impact strategies that most reasonably motivated, ordinary mortals might be able to pull off. Don't worry if you sometimes have the reaction, while reading of other people's exploits, that "I could never do that." I've included enough different approaches that you're bound to discover some that feel right for you. And because no one emerges from the womb knowing how to land media coverage, you get nitty-gritty advice for each aspect of the process.
Although publicity can launch you toward fame, influence, and fortune, it does not offer a magic carpet ride for everyone, every time. Its uncontrollability can be a problem, but also an advantage. I couldn't have known the afternoon I mailed hundreds of news releases about a catchy new business service that the Gulf War would break out overnight and drive all otherwise newsworthy stories out of reporters' minds. On the other hand, who would have guessed that a simple letter and sample copy of a newsletter would have led to a piece in the Maine Sunday Telegram about The Tightwad Gazette, through that to an article in Parade, and through that to a contract for a book by the same title that reached national best-seller lists?
Publicity-seeking might be called an adventure except that, unlike hunting elephants, it holds few dangers. Rarely does publicity backfire, and rarely does a series of intelligently conceived, knowledgeably executed publicity campaigns totally fail. And you won't have to practice for years before you reap rewards. By following the guidelines in this book, Barry Murray of Hallandale, Florida, wrangled his first TV interview, his second, and all the way up to his 500th and beyond, not to mention being promoted to marketing director of the company for which he worked, Truly Nolen Pest Control. So, let's get started now with the questions and perspectives that can get you thinking like a publicity hound.CHAPTER 2
Thinking Like a Publicity Hound
Suppose you're opening a new branch of your hardware store in Cactus Junction, Texas, population 2,500, 158 miles southwest of Dallas. Cash flow is one-way so far, and you've heard that publicity is the low-cost alternative to advertising, so you contact every newspaper in Texas with your announcement, printed up in classy italic type at your local print shop. For good measure you throw in all the NBC, ABC, and CBS affiliate stations from El Paso to Texarkana, and National Public Radio in Austin.
For a prosaic local store opening, does that sound to you like a wise expenditure of effort? Because I deliberately chose an extreme example, you're probably shaking your head.
Effective publicity involves a match between your goals and the needs of the media. Without considering what you hope to achieve from publicity, you're unlikely to receive an optimal outcome. And, unless you take into account what the media wants to cover, you might as well have addressed your materials to a black hole. For the best outcome, begin your quest for publicity with a frank, dispassionate assessment of the results from which you would most benefit.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "6 Steps to Free Publicity"
Copyright © 2009 Marcia Yudkin.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction to the Third Edition 7 Part I Getting Started With Publicity Chapter 1 Riches...Credibility...Prestige...Opportunity-What Publicity Can Do for You 13 Chapter 2 Thinking Like a Publicity Hound 21 Chapter 3 The Comfort Factor: Exposure Without Feeling Exposed 37 Part II Writing to Get Publicity Chapter 4 6 Steps to Free Publicity: Creating and Distributing a News Release 53 Chapter 5 Supporting the Story With a Media Kit or Online Media Room 69 Chapter 6 Letters That Pitch for You, Rattle the Public, or Roll Out Your Message 79 Chapter 7 Tip Sheets That Keep You in People's Minds, Files, and Favorites 91 Chapter 8 Painlessly Publishing Articles Yourself 103 Chapter 9 Advertorials That Don't Cost You a Cent 119 Part III Speaking and Acting for Publicity Chapter 10 Staging Magnet Events 129 Chapter 11 Speaking, for Fee or Free 137 Chapter 12 Hitting the Airwaves, on the Radio, TV, or the Web 151 Chapter 13 Schmoozing That Puts You in the Public Eye 167 Part IV Polishing Your Publicity Skills Chapter 14 Cooperating With Reporters 181 Chapter 15 Performing on Radio and TV Like a Pro 193 Chapter 16 Pitching Over the Phone 203 Chapter 17 10 Pitfalls in Publicity Writing-and How to Avoid Them 207 Chapter 18 77 Ways to Get Unstuck When Trying to Write 215 Chapter 19 Getting Sizzling, Forceful Testimonials 221 Chapter 20 How to Concoct Creative Angles, Images, and Exploits 233 Chapter 21 Becoming Findable Through Search Engines 239 Chapter 22 Making Time to Publicize 247 Part V Keeping the Publicity Momentum Going Chapter 23 Capitalizing and Building on Your Free Publicity 255 Chapter 24 Resources for Your Publicity Campaigns 261 Index 279 About the Author 287