Do Something Newsworthy

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You want to make news, take market share, and make your competitors feel uncomfortable. You want your competitors wondering, “What happened to all our customers?” You want them researching your brand, trying to figure out what makes you so special.

The question is, how do you do that?

One way to do it is to become the kind of company that the media and the public love to talk about. Most successful brands have a PR strategy that rolls up into their larger marketing strategy. They know that to accomplish the kind of growth and market leadership they aspire to, or to keep whatever advantage they already have, it takes others (read: outsiders) talking about you.

But what if you’re not a big brand? What if you can afford the kind of multi-million dollar a year PR strategy that the big brands deploy?

Don’t worry. There are ways that even the smallest, and newest brands can do to make news. Consider the following ideas a starting point, a way to get your creative juices flowing:

Mission Tie-in

Brands that get talked about are often the ones that stand for something that resonates with people. Whether it’s TOMS Shoes giving away thousands of pairs of shoes to people in the developing world, or Starbucks working in support of fair trade coffee, or Apple building a new headquarters that relies on 100% renewable energy, brands that find a way to serve the greater good find a way to get press coverage.

What does your company stand for? How do you plan to make the world a better place? The impact doesn’t need to be massive to make it important. Connect your mission with something larger than just your company, and you’ll turn heads.

Events

Events are a great way to generate excitement around a brand or product. Despite the digitalization of everything these days, live events are having a moment. From music festivals to TED Talks to developer conferences, live events bring a group of people together around a mutual passion.

Your company can develop an event on their own, or they could partner with an event that already exists. By offering a real-life experience to people, you are giving them a chance to connect with your brand in a new way.

Celebrities

We can rattle off a hundred or so celebrity spokespeople. The trouble is, most often they’re being paid large sums of money to promote products on radio, television, and Instagram.

But that’s not always the case. Consider what Vitamin Water did in the early days, before they sold to Coke. They recruited celebrities to promote their products, but instead of paying them, they offered stock in the company.

Not every company can afford to do it, but there are creative ways to tap into the celebrity marketplace. And if you can find a brand name willing to get into business with you, you just found a surefire ticket to the media.

Tap an Existing Network

Communities – both online and off – abound. Who says you have to go build one yourself?

You already know who your target audience is, so go and find them. Chances are, there are groups of people out there coalescing around a shared passion that you can be a part of.

A new video game title might tap into a gaming community. A new learning tool might tap into teachers. A ride sharing startup might find a Facebook group for angry commuters.

Whatever it is, by leveraging the power of an existing network, you can associate your brand with an established movement. And that gives your message a better chance of getting out there.

Conclusion

Too many of us assume that since we don’t have the biggest budgets, the PR game is hopeless. The truth is, the only reason you’re not making news is you.

Get creative. Try something new. Make headlines.

Market To Mondays – Part 7

Welcome to the latest edition of our new weekly blog series, Market To Mondays. Each week, we will introduce you to a new group of people you should market to. We’ll tell you who they are, why you should market to them, and how you might get started.

Last week’s group was Your Competitor’s Customers.

Today’s Group = The Press

The press can be your best friends. Companies that know how to market to the press know that a product, a brand, or an entire industry can be made by good media coverage.

But it doesn’t happen on its own. You need to learn how to treat the press as a marketing audience all its own that needs your attention.

When you learn how to properly market to the press, you can get them to sell your story for you. Instead of spending millions of dollars buying ads, you get broadcast to the masses for free. And you get the benefit of third-party credibility on your side, helping to convince wary customers that you offer quality products or services.

But how?

Marketing to the press is a different animal entirely from marketing to potential customers. The companies that do it well have worked hard to get where they are.

The first option you have is to retain the services of an establish public relations firm. They have the relationships with media companies, writers, reporters, and editors that you covet. They can help you with strategy, refine your message, and do lots and lots of outreach. The only downside is that the right PR firm will cost you a good chunk of your marketing budget (maybe more than you have if you’re just starting out).

The second option is to go it on your own. This is much more difficult, but not impossible.

First, you can use an online distribution company like PRWeb to put out press releases. Tell the story of your company through these releases, but make sure what you’re putting out is actually news-worthy.

Then, host these releases in a “press section” on your website. It might be on your blog, or under News. Wherever it is, make it easy for members of the media to find if they come across your site.

Put someone in charge of press relations and provide their contact information with every release and clearly on the site. This gives members of the media someone to contact if they’re interested in learning more about you or your story.

Develop a list of publications, reporters, and bloggers in the space that cover your industry. Start reaching out to them with news related to your company. Establish a relationship with them and ask them what kinds of stories they are looking for.

Services like HARO and Cision allow you to monitor press inquiries and activities so that you know who needs stories, and what subjects are being covered. Again, this requires someone to stay on top of press relations and act quickly when opportunities come up.

No matter how you do it, developing a relationship with the press can be very beneficial to your marketing. When the press is selling your story, you don’t have to.

What group should we cover next? Now accepting submissions for audiences that we will cover in an upcoming “Market To Mondays” post. Submit your ideas via our contact page or in the comments section below.

Did You Know Words Really Can Hurt You?

This is not a post about one of the recent Geico commercials, though I will thank them for inspiring it. No, instead this is a post about three situations marketers and business owners will find themselves in where the words you use matter. Using the wrong ones might lead to a drop in business.

  1. Copywriting – the words you use to describe your company, your products, and your value to consumers have a direct impact on your sales. The best marketers and copywriters in the world carefully craft each and every message their customers will see. And using the wrong words could cause people to lose interest or turn to your competition.
     
  2. Speaking to the press – company spokespeople are well-paid for a reason. They convey your brand’s message to the media. And how you do that is very important. Because the slightest mix up could lead to a lot of negative coverage that can sink any brand.
     
  3. Managing employees – talking to your team, especially those that work under you is a skill you must master. The right wording can go a long way toward inspiring people to work harder. The wrong wording might make them turn on you.

Rory McIlroy (or the Lunacy of Media Portayal)

This is less about marketing than it is about taking everything you hear with a grain of salt. Rory McIlroy, the boy phenom that has the entire golf world crowning him the next Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods after his very first Major Championship win, has demonstrated the ability of the world around us to blow something out of proportion.

After last Sunday’s impressive win at the U.S. Open, everyone from the New York Times to ESPN was ready to hand this kid the keys to the kingdom. Praising him as “a breath of fresh air” and “the leader of a new era in golf”, mainstream media consistently referred to the game of golf’s need for this type of player to come along right now.

Not lost in all of the media reports were the subtle references to Tiger Woods “disgracing” the game of golf. Every time they praised McIlroy’s humility, they were calling Tiger a cocky asshole.

But the truth is, these are the same people who were sure that Tiger was the best thing for the game since Jack Nicklaus, that Tiger was a breath of fresh air for a game that had lost its appeal to the younger generation, that Tiger was humble, determined, the best the game had ever seen. How quickly we forget. How quickly we are ready to trust someone new, the same way we trusted Tiger.

I’m not speaking for or against either of these men, merely commenting on how ridiculously out of proportion we have the ability to make things. On the dawn of a new presidential election that will bring high praise, common insults, and media bias in both directions, and in the face of ever louder and more constant marketing messages touting the best this or the greatest that, take everything you hear with a grain of salt. The strongest messages usually come with the smallest asterisks.