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Cheat Sheet

Public Relations For Dummies

From Public Relations For Dummies, 2nd Edition by Eric Yaverbaum, Ilise Benun, Richard Kirshenbaum (Foreword by) [with Robert W. Bly]

To get people talking about you, your company, or your product, you need to develop a good public relations (PR) plan. Applying some PR fundamentals, knowing how to deal with the media, getting your press release to stand out and your blog noticed are all key steps in your public relations campaign.

Employing Important Public Relations Principles

Public relations (PR) is all about getting noticed. When you’re planning your PR strategy, the whole idea is to get customers talking. Keep these key issues in mind to get you or your company noticed:

  • You have to be different. Conventional publicity strategies get lost in the noise. You have to find a creative way to stand out from the crowd and get noticed.
  • Publicity should help you reach your market objective. Getting publicity is fun, but it’s a waste of time and money if it doesn’t help you achieve your marketing objectives. If getting on the front page of The Wall Street Journal doesn’t help you make more money or increase your firm’s market share, it really isn't worth the trouble.
  • You don’t have to have media contacts to get big-time publicity. You don’t have to know Joe TV star to get on his TV show; you just have to come up with an idea that will interest his producer.

Manage the Media with Public Relations Fundamentals

In the world of public relations (PR), finding the media outlets to send your press releases and other PR materials to so you can reach your target audience is crucial. Do your research, think expansively, and stay connected to the media with these tips:

  • Build a personal contact file. Keep at it until you have a list of at least 100 media contacts who know you personally and take your call when you have a story you want to publicize.

  • Follow up. Call everyone to whom you send your press release — several times each, if necessary. Do this and you will get coverage.

  • Become the “go-to guy.” Show the press that you’re the one to call for expert interviews in your particular field. For example, Alan Dershowitz is the go-to guy for law.

  • Don’t limit yourself. Broaden your outreach. A CEO reads Forbes, but he also watches the evening TV news.

  • Offer an exclusive. If it’s important for you to get into a particular publication, offer the editor an exclusive on the story (meaning you won’t send out a press release to other media until that publication has run it first).

  • Go where the cameras already are. Instead of trying to get media to cover your event, make noise at an event they’re already covering. Domino’s Pizza gets national TV coverage by bringing free pizza to the post office on April 15 to feed last-minute taxpayers standing in line.

  • Media are not interested in you or your product. They care only whether your story will interest their readers or viewers.

  • Remember: Media are your customer. They are buying stories, and you are selling. Meet their needs, and they will run your stories.

Convincing Editors to Print Your Press Release

Editors receive hundreds of press releases weekly and they toss out most of them. To make your press release stand out and get the attention of an editor, make sure your press release is professionally prepared, the content is important and newsworthy, and it’s short and to the point. These tips will help make your press release stand out even more:

  • Offer a free booklet or report. Readers love freebies, and editors love to offer them.

  • Set up a hotline for people to call for information or advice.

  • Stage a special or timely event or gimmick. A manufacturer of juice machines gained media coverage by holding “juicing seminars” in major cities.

  • Introduce a new product or service. Many magazines have special sections featuring new products and services.

  • Offer new literature. Many trade journals have sections featuring new sales literature (brochures and catalogs, for example).

  • Tie in with a current trend, fad, or news issue and piggyback on that coverage.

  • Sound a call to action. Ask people to participate in a boycott, for example.

  • Tie your publicity to your high-visibility advertising if it received a lot of attention and created some buzz.

Public Relations Tips for Promoting Your Blog

Blogs provide news and commentary one to two days ahead of major media. Those two days can make a big difference in the world of public relations. Blogs build buzz, so after you’ve launched your blog, use these tips to promote and monitor it:

  • Submit to blog search engines. Beyond the traditional search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, there are search engines and directories that track blogs exclusively and which thousands of people search every day. Submit your blog's URL to these sites for free: http://blogsearchengine.com, http://technorati.com, http://www.daypop.com, http://blogdex.net, http://w.moreover.com, http://www.yahoo.com, and http://popdex.com.

  • Ping each time a new post is published. The blog search engines offer a system whereby you notify (or “ping”) them, either manually or automatically, each time a new post appears on your blog.

  • Use trackbacks and tags. Look for the “trackback” link at the bottom of a post, next to the permalink and comments link. Trackbacking notifies a blogger that one of their posts has been featured on another blog. It’s a non-intrusive way of letting a blogger know you are interested in what they have to say. “Tags” are categories and keywords for blog posts. You will often see keywords on the navigation bar of a blog. If you click on one of the keywords, it will show you all of the blogs that are categorized under one of those "tags." If someone finds your blog and wants to read all of the articles on a particular topic or keyword, tags make this very easy.

  • Include a growing “blogroll.” You’ll see this on the navigation bar of many blogs. It is essentially a list of favorite blogs or related Web sites. This is one of the ways people hop from one blog to the next and help promote each other’s blogs.

  • Participate on other people’s blogs. Devote a certain amount of your time actively commenting on and linking to blogs that are related to your industry and topic. Focus especially on blogs that get high traffic. And be sure to include your blog address in your email signature so that your blog will reach many new readers who see your post.

  • Make it easy for readers to subscribe to your blog via RSS. Give lots of options so people can choose the one they prefer.

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