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Social media is OK for promotion. But if you need blockbuster publicity, use the best practice in marketing.

Play a trump card — leverage the news media for public relations.

Yes, it’s true that increasing numbers of adults – especially young adults – are using social media for their news and information, and for making buying decisions.

However, don’t be misled.

In marketing terms, the media is still the most powerful center of influence on the planet.

You, too, can benefit from PR in the media – just like Microsoft or Starbucks.

“If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.”

-Bill Gates

If you can’t afford a $5,000 monthly retainer for a public relations person or firm, you can still use the media as a powerful and economical resource to help you brand your business.

You can get your sales message published – with ultimate credibility and authority. That starts with a press release.

Salient elements of a press release:

– In journalism parlance, include details about who, what, when, where and why.

– Include contact information – day and night telephone number, address, Web site address, e-mail address and name of the person at your company whom you want contacted.

– Assume the content of your press release will be on a news site, so strategically insert the right keywords and related search-engine optimization elements. It’s possible they will be carried over in news articles.

Use empathy

Like all marketing, PR is a marathon. Journalists are busy and it’s hard to get their attention. Mid-week – Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays – are best to approach them.

For print, learn and use the name of the feature, city editor or journalists covering your industry. If you’re contacting radio or television station news departments, contact the assignment editor or news director.

Print and electronic mediums have different deadlines, so be cognizant of them and contact editors at the right time.

Many big-market media outlets prefer to be e-mailed. However, when I was in broadcast journalism, I noticed that personable PR people, who had deep media-relationships, hand-delivered their releases with success.

So, that’s my approach for clients. Yes, with security guards screening visitors at media outlets, it can be difficult. However, I believe in doing the footwork – literally. Sometimes it’s been a successful strategy in achieving PR for my clients.

For success in print or on-air headlines, don’t mask mundane ideas as news. It must be newsworthy and transparent. If it is, you will also probably benefit from word-of-mouth advertising.

Hint: Journalists have egos. In some cases, it’s best to single out one medium to approach. Journalists often pride themselves on exclusive stories.

If your published item attracts the attention of Associated Press, other newspapers, radio and television stations will join the bandwagon. This means your submission will also be inserted on their Web sites, which might result in search-engine headlines. Presto, you will have hit a grand slam.

In marketing terms, the media is still the most powerful center of influence on the planet.

Feasible story angles to submit to journalists:

  1. Promotions and retirements. Newspapers might print the item as a story. If not, they often have a category for promotions and retirements in their business section. If you have all-news radio stations in your market, don’t overlook them. If you’re a major employer, your odds are good, too. 
  2. New or unique products or services. That’s especially true if you’re providing value to businesspeople or consumers. Include a product sample and pictures. If it’s a revolutionary tech or green product or service, it’s almost a fait accompli for PR.
  3. Expansions or renovations. If your business is making big changes, include pictures and relevant data. Creation of jobs often constitutes a PR opportunity. 
  4. Free products and services. Such announcements benefiting the public – especially, kids, senior citizens and veterans – almost always yield coverage. 
  5. Contests. You might be able to create a contest for marketplace buzz. 
  6. Events. A free how-to seminar or workshop is usually a winner. For less serious creative events, the keys are to have fun and be relevant.
  7. Cause-related marketing. It’s one of my favorite PR approaches because cause-related marketing can increase sales by double digits via word-of-mouth. Plus, most journalists like a good cause. Even pro bono work yields good recognition. Just be careful so it doesn’t appear to be shameless self-promotion. When feasible, collaborate with the nonprofit to contact the media instead of you. Just make sure you get adequate mention in materials. When I worked full-time in the media, I loved cause-related marketing because it alleviated my stress amid all the negative-news stories. Civic-minded companies that help charities usually deserve attention.  
  8. Scholarships. Another favorite approach of mine is to form a foundation to fund scholarships. It will effectively show your deep involvement in education and your community.

To improve your Web site’s prominence, consider using an Internet press-release service. If you don’t have $40 to $800 for an Internet press release, there are companies that will do it for free.

Your release won’t be as well read, but it will improve your online presence with these provisos:

  • Make sure the press-release company is authoritative.
  • Verify that the vendor has a better Google page rank than your Web site.

Insert enough of these press releases, and your online presence will improve dramatically. Your goal should be to become No. 1 in your strategic key words. In my experience, the top three sites make the most income.

So leverage the news media to help brand your business. The media is still the most authoritative center of influence to send business your way. Journalists are always looking for good stories.

They, too, have inventories to stock. Probably unlike your inventory, theirs are time and space, which are valuable commodities.

P.S. You might also want to consider trade-outs. Radio stations, in particular, will often trade advertising for products or services. My clients have catered parties and provided prizes for station contests.

Additionally, I’ve worked at stations that traded advertising for equipment and vehicles, but special strategies were necessary for such expensive items. Radio stations need revenue, too.

From the Coach’s Corner, consider these relevant resource links:

Marketing Strategy That Best Defends Your Company Against Competition — What do I mean by the phrase, “A marketing strategy that best defends your company”? Protecting your assets with the right marketing strategy results in the shielding and enhancing of your brand, as well as protecting your customer base.

For a Bounce in Revenue, Try Strategic Press Releases — Ever wonder why some companies are always in the news or how they succeed on the Internet? It’s a good bet they have a good PR consultant or have mastered the art of writing press releases. You, too, can level the playing field with effective press releases.

How to Newsjack for Publicity of Your Content Marketing — Newsjacking – the art and science of obtaining mountains of free media coverage and social-media spin by getting your content injected into late-breaking news stories.

PR Is Nearly 90% More Valuable Than Content Marketing — Study — A Bill Gates’ quote is famous: “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.” Certainly, there’s validity for his philosophy. Even if you go to the competing Google News, you’ll typically find 50 million results for the key word, Microsoft.

Got a New Strategic Partner? Try Joint Web Press Releases — Each of you can garner new prospects as you enhance your image with additional credibility and authoritativeness. You will with the right Internet buzz.

“If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.”

-Bill Gates


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.