Free Advertising With Publicity
Publicity is a great way to reach a lot of people with a limited budget. The key is to have a message that is newsworthy, which obviously changes all the time. Years ago it was enough to launch a new website. Nowadays that’s too common. As I’m writing this, there’s a 12-year old girl making news because of an experiment she conducted for her school’s science fair: she had fast-food ice samples tested for bacteria and compared those test results with samples of toilet water from those same fast-food restaurants (about 30% of the ice samples had more bacteria in it than the toilet water).
Besides ordering your next soft drinks sans ice, this illustrates something profoundly important: news sells. You need something fresh. Something the public would want to know about.
So, that being said, let’s explore some ways to get your free publicity.
- Write a Regular Column – Whether in a newspaper, magazine, ezine, or offline newsletter, a regular column is a great way to establish you as an expert in your field. You can also send reprints to your clients and prospects to add proof to your sales letters and promotional materials.Write an Article – Articles can be anything from a short essay on a topic to a feature article in a magazine, newspaper, ezine, newsletter, you name it.
Again, article reprints help the selling job in adding proof to your persuasion.
- Align With a Charity or Other Non-profit Organization – This is a great way to get free publicity. Let’s say you’ve created a course on starting a mail-order business on a shoestring budget. You can hold a free seminar with local low-income families and youths, give a presentation, and then give them all free copies of the course. Be sure to issue press releases with your local newspaper, radio and television stations, and community publications. Stories like these make great humanitarian interest pieces for these media outlets. Who knows? You could be the next guest on Oprah or the Today Show!
- Issue a Press Release – An oldie, but goodie. The trick is to make sure your press release is a newsworthy event. For example, starting a new newsletter is not necessarily a newsworthy event (but it might in certain niche markets for smaller publications). Issuing a press release about a large donation you are giving, complete with relevant background story might be newsworthy. It all depends on your target audience and the publication(s). Editors pick up press releases if they think there is news for their readers. They do not care about you or your company. Your press release must be framed that way. “What’s in it for me” is very relevant here.
- Create a Newsworthy Event – Here’s an idea that a local stereo and electronics store did that would qualify for a newsworthy press release:
- They arranged a “superstition obstacle course” on Friday the 13th in their parking lot, complete with ladders to walk under, a roaming black cat, mirrors to break, umbrellas to open indoors, etc.
- They called all the local radio stations and invited their morning personalities to come down and take the obstacle course challenge.
- One radio station took them up on their offer, and broadcast live from the event.
- The result was that tons of people came down to their store to watch and take part. And of course pick up some gear or supplies while they were there. And that, of course, not only provided a boost in sales for that day, it brought in new customers and generated lots of “word of mouth” advertising for them.
Any business can do something like this; I don’t care if you’re a conservative lawyer or accountant. The key is to find a theme and run with it. There’s no reason why a jeweler or restaurant couldn’t do something like that for Valentine’s Day. Or a local Irish pub could do for St. Patrick’s Day. Or any retail outlet for Christmas. The list goes on and on.
- Attend Special Events – Watch your local news and constantly be on the lookout for events in your area where you can increase your visibility. As always, the best lead generation methods are those that introduce your products and services by way of something free (in exchange for their contact information, of course).
- Take Time to Get to Know Your Local Editors and Publishers – It’s a lot easier to pitch a press release or idea if you already know someone on the inside. Years ago I was in the middle of writing a book, and I started shopping for an agent, figuring it was easier to go that route than to approach the publishers directly. My wife managed insurance policies at the time for a Fortune 500 company, and one of her clients was the publishing firm Simon & Schuster. One day she happened to be talking to a prominent editor, and she mentioned my book. The editor told her to have me send it to his VP, at his request. Just like that I was no longer an unsolicited submitter. It was (and to my knowledge still is) Simon & Schuster’s policy to not accept unsolicited manuscripts. That contact alone allowed me to bypass that barrier.
- Write a Book – With Print on Demand (POD) publishers, nowadays it’s easy and cheap to type up and edit a book in your favorite word processor, upload it to a POD’s server, and have the book available for shipping within weeks or less. Books are also a great way to position yourself as the expert. There’s something almost magical that takes place when you send your clients an autographed copy of your latest book. In their eyes, you instantly gain credibility. Your status becomes elevated. They are more likely to want to do business with you.
There’s little doubt that successful people want to surround themselves with other successful people. And a book shows them that you are successful. It gives you prestige. You are now an author. It’s far easier to dismiss your self-claims in a salesletter than it is from a book. The fact that anyone can have a book printed is irrelevant (at least for now).
If you don’t have the time or patience to write a book, you have several options:
- You can dictate the book and have it transcribed (elance.com and guru.com are good places to get a transcript done for you, but there are many other places online and offline to have them done as well).
- You can have someone ghostwrite the book for you. Be sure to check out their previous work, though!
- You can hold a teleseminar by yourself or with other experts and have it transcribed and edited into a book.
- You can get together with other experts in your field and each contribute a chapter or two for a book.
- You can interview other experts and compile it into a book.
- You can take books that are in the public domain, update it for today, and release it as a book (you may want to consider legal resources to make sure your choice is actually in the public domain…it’s not always straightforward).
As you can see, it’s fairly easy to have a book done in very little time and at very little cost. Just be sure the subject and material is relevant and fills a need. Ideally a book can also be used as a selling device for a back-end item or as a lead generation device.
- Blogs, Podcasts, etc. – Yes, this is supposed to be about offline marketing methods, but in today’s information age, I would be amiss if I didn’t mention them.
- Check out:
…for starters. The offline part comes in when you advertise your blog in the offline world as well (which you should).