Some people refer to publicity as free advertising, but it’s not exactly free. It does take you some time to prepare and distribute a news release and your time isn’t free. But publicity is indeed the lowest cost promotion method you can utilize.
An ad allows you send out a message exactly as you want it worded, at a cost, to one media outlet. Publicity allows you send out a message that may be edited - but it’s still your message - very inexpensively to multiple media outlets.
WHAT CAN YOU PROMOTE?Send out a news release announcing such things as:
• the hiring of a new manager or the promotion of an existing employee;
• a significant new rebate program;
• expansion into a new business area (such as plumbing or electrical); or
• the addition of a significant new product line.
Green products are a hot topic today. If you’ve taken on a geothermal heat pump product line or solar water heaters or solar-assisted HVAC system, send out a news release promoting your new green line. Tankless water heaters can also be promoted as energy-efficient green products.
Because so many people suffer from asthma and allergies, indoor air quality (IAQ) is another hot product sector to promote. If you’ve expanded heavily into IAQ products, you might hold an open house for the community to show off your IAQ solutions. And to let people know about this event, you would send out a news release. (You might also want to highlight this event in a direct mail piece and in your customer newsletter if you have one.)
If your company is going to have a booth at a local home and garden show, be sure to send out a news release publicizing your appearance. If you are planning any special sales promotions for the show, be sure to include them in the release.
If your business offers a summer internship program or sponsors a scholarship for an area student, or if you’re involved in charity work donating your time, equipment, or services to local causes, send out a news release to let the community know about it.
WHERE CAN YOU PROMOTE?Send out your news releases to your local daily newspaper, your local community weekly newspapers, any local business magazines, and local radio and TV stations (including any community cable stations).
For newspapers and magazines, look up on their Website, or call and find out, the name of the editor your release should be directed to. For radio and TV stations, look up on their Website, or call and find out, the name of the news director you should send your release to.
If you’re going to send the release via mail, take down the address. If you’re going to send the release via e-mail, get the appropriate e-mail address. Once you’ve put together your mail or e-mail list, you can use it for all your news releases.
HOW CAN YOU PROMOTE?Your news release should go out on company letterhead. At the top, type the words NEWS RELEASE in all capital letters to let the editor or news director know immediately what this is. Place your contact information directly underneath in case the media outlet needs more information. Include your name, phone number, and e-mail address.
Begin the release with a brief, descriptive headline in bold type. Sum up what the news is all about.
In the first paragraph - the lead paragraph - include the most important information - the who, what, when, where, and how. “Who” is your company, “what” is what you’re announcing, “when” is when it’s happening, “where” is the location, and then explain “how” this is significant.
The release should follow the inverted pyramid format - this means put the essentials at the top with less important details as you go down. Keep the news release to one or two pages.
Find some news to promote, follow this approach, and start letting the media - and your local community - know about your company, its growth and expansion, your appearances and special offers at local shows, and your charitable activities.
Before joining the editorial staff ofThe NEWSover 12 years ago, Greg Mazurkiewicz worked in public relations and advertising for more than 20 years. In this periodic series of articles, he will share some of his expertise in the field of marketing communications.