Imagine the media talking about you. That builds your visibility, credibility and perception of expertise. Whether you call this promotion, public relations or publicity, remember two important points:
1. It is free. Well nothing is free - you pay in time and effort.
2. We believe more what others say about you. This is doubly so when the media talks about you.
Follow this five-step proven process to get your name and message in the media.
1. Target the media in which you want to be seen
Of the three forms of traditional media print is the best. Clients might not see you on TV or hear you on radio. But when you are in print you can send them a photocopy.
It's best to be seen in the publications read by your prospects and clients. Ask your clients what they read or check the magazines in their lobby. Appearing in the national dailies might feel glamorous, but does that help your business? All publicity helps but it is important to focus your time and effort on where you get the biggest impact. That could be a community paper, association newsletter or an industry trade magazine. For example if you sell to hair dressers you should appear in "Hair Today".
2. Build your database
Record contact information about editors and reporters for the publications in which you might appear. Watch for publications that might be able to use your expertise. Pick up a copy and read it. Search for articles on your industry or area of expertise. Take note of reporters whose style you enjoy. If you like their style it is because you are like them or would like to be. There is a good chance that they will also like you, so start with them.
3. Make contact
First contact with the media - shall we dance? There is no right way but some work better than others. These worked best for me: call, introduce yourself and offer an article or interview, send a note of congratulations on an article they wrote or mail a post card from an exotic location, (sign your name clearly).
It can take a while to build rapport. The media are just like prospects. They are skeptical. Be persistent and consistent to be remembered. Be patient and realize that free media exposure is a long term plan. I appeared on a TV station after two years of contact and follow-up. The director finally stated. "George, your timing is impeccable, we need someone like you." Now I ask you, "Why did it take two years for my timing to be impeccable?" If I had given up after 18 months I could have believed that it doesn't work. It does - you just never know how long it will take.
Treat the media like hot prospects. Once you've made first contact never let them forget about you. Be in contact every two to three months. Call them, send them an article you wrote, call them, send a post card, ask to meet for lunch or coffee, send a news release, call, send a note about one of their articles, …..
The cycle is unending - until they or you go out of business. Don't waste time. Keep your calls brief and to the point. Sometimes call when they are not there just to leave a short message on their voice mail. You want them to remember you when they have an interest in your expertise, (George your timing is impeccable). Use a computer database to help track your contacts and remind you when to make next contact.
4. You appear in print
Your preference is to be the subject of an article or quoted for your expert opinion. But, first your media contacts must believe you are the expert. And once they call you the expert you can quote them as having called you the expert. It is a circular argument but it works because perception is reality.
Your second choice is to write an article for publication. This must be informative and not advertising. Ask the publication for guidelines, word count and style. The simplest article to write is a tips list; the five myths of your business, the seven secrets of shopping for.., the 10 tips to getting value from… Both editors and readers like tips lists.
The third way to get your name in the media is by writing a letter to the editor. Based on your expertise you agree with a previous article, disagree, or supplement.
Whenever you appear in print send photocopies to your clients, prospects and media contacts so they begin to see you as the expert. The more publicity you get the easier it is to get more. It's like money.
After you appear in a publication send the editor or reporter a personal thank you note, then go back to step 1. Start all over again - and laugh at those who see you in the media and exclaim, "You are so lucky".