Streetwise Advice: Tips on Publicity

Before Advertising

If you can get publicity for your business, do it! It can be much less expensive than advertising and much more powerful. With a good press release and a couple of days of follow-up phone calls, you may be able to generate significant media coverage for your product or service.

Better Than Advertising

Consumers tend to pay a lot more attention to feature coverage on the Internet, in newspapers, on television, and on radio than they do to advertising. A feature article on your business on an Internet media site, for example, may generate several times the amount of inquiries or sales as a large display advertisement would.

The same rule of thumb applies to traditional media. For example, many years ago, the New York Post ran a small feature article in their business section about one of our books, The New York Job Bank, headlined “Here’s the book for your job hunt!” Even though the story was only about three column inches, hundreds of books were sold as a result.

Over the next few weeks I ran an exact copy of the article several times in the same newspaper as an advertisement. The only qualification to printing the article as an ad was the small “disclaimer” at the top of the piece reading “Advertisement.” No sales could be traced to the advertisement even though it was virtually identical to the highly successful feature story.

Publicity can also be used to make your advertising copy more effective. For example, movie reviews almost always contain quotations from reviewers. Even if you are not selling movies, you can use favorable quotations from print, radio, and/or television interviews in your advertising copy. You may even want to reproduce the entire interview, frame it, and hang it in your place of business. And definitely consider sending copies to your customers.

Keep in mind, though, that if you are reproducing all or part of an interview, you should contact the publication or media outlet where the story appeared to get reprint permission. Even though the interview is about your business, the publication or media outlet has copyrighted the material and effectively owns it. Very few publications or media outlets refuse reprint permissions or levy a charge for reprinting. There are exceptions, however. Consumer Reports, for instance, is concerned about maintaining the fairness of its image and completely prohibits the reprinting of any information from that publication.

In many ways, getting publicity is like selling. You usually need to make a lot of phone calls to get publicity on major media outlets. You need to make a presentation, overcome any objections, and close the sale. In making publicity calls, you will get a lot of voice mail or be stalled at the receptionist or assistant’s desk. You will certainly experience a lot of rejection. But if you can succeed in getting publicity for your company, it can go a long way toward making your business a success.

About Bob Adams

Bob Adams is a Harvard MBA serial entrepreneur. He has started over a dozen businesses including one that he launched with $1500 and sold for $40 million. He has written 17 books and created 52 online courses for entrepreneurs. Bob also founded BusinessTown, the go-to learning platform for starting and running a business.