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tricks of the trade every entrepreneur should know about PR
Conducting a public relations campaign is a great way to reach customers, build your reputation and differentiate your yoga business from others. If you decide to launch your own PR campaign, consider studying some of the books available on the topic, or seek out someone who can give you an overview of the process. A little bit of research and planning can go a long way toward achieving success. Many yoga businesses enthusiastically launch a PR campaign, but compromise their image and effectiveness dramatically by making amateur mistakes. If you want your PR campaign to get off to a good start, avoid these common errors.
1. Treating journalists the same way you treat your customers.
Journalists are interested in fresh ideas and new information they can share with their readers. They are less interested in features and benefits of your products, or actually purchasing your products. When putting together your press materials, focus on what differentiates your products and services from the competition, and why they are important and relevant today. When speaking with journalists, remember that you are selling them on an idea for an article, not your product or company.
2. Starting at the top of the journalistic food chain.
What company wouldn’t want to have a positive profile in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times? Needless to say, journalists at these top publications are bombarded with pitches from every imaginable source, and are not always eager to take phone calls, especially from sources that don’t have a well-crafted pitch. You’ll have much better success if you begin with trade publications in your industry and publications in your local area. Save the top-tier business publications for later.
3. Lavishing journalists with gifts, lunches and other perks.
Gifts and lunches may work with your customers, but they are unlikely to sway most journalists. Many U.S. publications have policies that forbid their staff from accepting gifts over a small dollar value, and American journalists go to great lengths to avoid behavior that has any appearance of bias. With their constant deadlines, journalists rarely have time for leisurely lunches or tee times. A five-minute phone conversation is usually far more effective.
4. Expecting wire services alone to generate press coverage.
Wire distribution services such as Businesswire, Marketwire and PR Newswire are a good way to get your yoga release out to lots of journalists and satisfy SEC fair disclosure requirements. However, due to the volume of release received each day, it’s unlikely that yours will generate any phone calls or coverage, unless you work for a very large company (Microsoft, Wal Mart, etc.) that the press closely watch. To greatly increase your chances for coverage, email the release to a targeted list of 25 or 50 journalists and follow up with a phone call to each.
5. Calling journalists before sending written materials.
Most journalists prefer to receive story ideas in written press releases, letters, and background documents. They can more easily dissect, categorize, and share ideas with their editor if they are written down. The first question you’ll likely hear if you reach a journalist over the phone is, “Can you put that in an email and send it to me?” Do your homework and send the materials before you make the call.
6. Writing contributed articles before securing publication.
Contributed articles in trade publications are a great way to show potential customers that you are an expert in your field. However, it’s a lot of work to write up a crisp 1000+ word trend piece or how-to article, and potentially a waste of time. Each trade publication has its own guidelines for the style, length and technical detail of contributed articles, and many will not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It’s easier for everyone involved if you write a few paragraphs describing the scope of the article and pitch it to a couple of publications. Once you’ve got the feedback and a commitment from a publication, then you can write with confidence.
7. Putting all your eggs in the PR basket.
With PR, you make your best pitch to get journalists to write positive stories about your business and products. Unlike advertising and other types of marketing, however, you can’t control the timing or amount of exposure. For this reason, it’s wise to use PR as part of a broad marketing campaign that includes a Web site, direct mail or email campaigns, promotions, yoga advertising, channel sales, trade shows, and so on.
Ronald Schmidt, LEED AP is a published author, conference speaker and recipient of the Society for Technical Communication Award. Schmidt is president of the International Association of Business Communicators, Silicon Valley chapter. He can be reached at [email protected]
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