Category Archives: Publicity & Media Relations

Five Must Consider Marketing Strategies for 2011

Whether your organization is “flying high” or “getting by,” it is unquestionably in your best interest to always evaluate minimum-investment, maximum-return marketing strategies as key components of your marketing plan. Following are Sweeney’s Top 5 “Must Consider” strategies for 2011 – strategies we believe cannot be overlooked and whose value should not be underestimated:

Publicity & Media Relations. Though a standard in the world of public relations, publicity and media relations have never held more potential for organizations seeking to increase awareness through traditional and online media outlets. Publicity and media relations 2.0 allow you to secure print, broadcast and online media coverage to reach target audiences with both company and product information in a cost-efficient manner. In the process you are also creating valuable content that can be used to enhance your web site and enhance your search ranking.

Online Advertising. As an addition or alternative to traditional print and broadcast advertising, online advertising (both display and PPC) can help you will build awareness while also driving traffic to your web site – traffic that you can monitor and evaluate. You can control costs, messaging and placement in both a test and campaign environment.

E-mail Marketing. The regular distribution of email to existing or rented databases is an effective, fast and efficient strategy for staying in front of and engaging target audiences (customers, prospects, distributors, retailers, etc.). E-mail marketing allows you to monitor, measure, evaluate and respond to recipient actions almost immediately.

Social Media Marketing. The use of social networks, online communities, blogs, wikis or any other online collaborative media – allows you to produce and share content, generate and participate in conversations and establish a trusted presence among target audiences. As with the other strategies, you can manage your involvement and costs while achieving desired results.

Creative. The difference between a good and great campaign is often determined by the creative. The ad that gets responses, the brochure that gets read, the business card that elicits calls, the e-mail that gets opened and clicked… they all have one thing in common – an impactful creative design and compelling creative message. This is one corner you don’t want to cut.

Need help implementing these marketing and public relations strategies or others?  Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.

The Impact of a Consumer Reports Review

My product is expected to be reviewed in Consumer Reports. Should I be prepared both online and with retailers for a big influx in sales? Also, assuming a positive review, how can we market this information to our retailers and consumers?

By Jennifer Manocchio

If you are expecting a Consumer Reports review to be the tipping point for your business, your expectations are probably set too high. While a positive Consumer Reports review will certainly benefit your brand and your product that is tested (assuming a positive review), it is unlikely Consumer Reports will have a similar effect as “Ophra’s favorite things”.

The response will really vary by product type. If you have a high value product, like a car, flat screen television, video camera, etc., these are planned purchases people tend to research before buying. Therefore, you will not likely see a big spike in sales with a higher value, non-impulse buy product.

If you have a product that is more of an impulse buy or a product that has a shorter life cycle (e.g. a cleaning product, detergent, etc.), you could see a slight bump in sales from the review. But again, don’t expect any miracles here.

We did reach out to two consumer packaged goods companies who were recently featured in the Consumer Reports December 2010 issue and both reported not seeing a major spike in sales. Keep in mind that consumers tend to use Consumer Reports as a resource and save issues for future use. So the impact could occur in small increments over time.

With that being said, you still should be prepared online to handle an increase of sales and let your retailers know you expect your product to appear in Consumer Reports. This will help ensure they are prepared.

It is VERY IMPORTANT to note that Consumer Reports has very strict guidelines about the commercial use of Consumer Reports content. The publication’s website clearly states:

Our Ratings and reports are intended solely for the use of our readers. Neither the Ratings nor the reports may be used in advertising or for any other commercial purpose without our permission. Consumers Union will take all steps open to it to prevent commercial use of its materials, its name, or the name of Consumer Reports®.

Therefore, it is in your best interest to not advertise or market your Consumer Reports review unless you have spoken with the publication first.

Looking to secure quality and high volumes of media coverage in 2011, contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.

News Wire Release Distribution Doesn’t Guarantee Results

I sent my news release out on the wire and I have only seen a handful of media results. Why is that?

By Jennifer Manocchio

There could be many reasons why you are not achieving the results you expected.

First, it is important to understand the different “wire” services out there. There are the traditional wire services like Business Wire and PR Newswire that distribute your news release to newsrooms across the country. There are online wire services like PR Web that focus on distributing your news release to online news sites, blogs and websites. Finally, there are free distribution sites where you can post your release; however, you get what you pay for with these and in most cases your release is not distributed at all. Rather it just sits on that particular website.

Therefore, you need to select the type of wire distribution you want based on the goals you are trying to achieve. If you are simply writing the news release for organic SEO purposes, then an online wire service like PR Web will be suitable and the free distribution sites can provide a little value as well. If you are looking for media coverage, then you want to be using a traditional service like Business Wire or PR Newswire.

Secondly, the quality of your news release is important. If the release is an advertisement or poorly written, it is not likely to get covered by the media. You may find it on a few blogs or “sblogs”, but that is about it.

Thirdly, while wire services are valuable, your efforts should not stop there. You should still distribute the news release to your media list. This is because the person monitoring the wire for news isn’t likely the reporter you are trying to reach. Also, as with any successful publicity and media relations campaign, it is necessary to pick up the phone and call the media.

A wire distribution service should not be the end all be all to your publicity strategy. A campaign requires much more time and attention to be successful.

Need support getting media coverage? Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.

Reacting to a Negative or Inaccurate Media Story

I spent almost an hour with a major market newspaper reporter on the phone. I gave her what I felt was great information and even provided additional sources to contact. When the article was actually published, the headline was very controversial and our company got virtually no coverage. What was included about our company I felt was showing us in a bad light. What can I do?

By Jennifer Manocchio

First, before answering the question, it is important to note most reporters do not write their own headlines. A different editor is tasked with writing headlines for the story. Sometimes this can create a disconnect, which is likely what you experienced. Therefore, do not come down too hard on the reporter for the controversial headline.

Secondly, just because a reporter speaks with you for a substantial amount of time does not mean you are guaranteed ink. Reporters, including online and print, are looking for short and succinct quotes that help tell their story. So the more you offer in terms of usable material, the more likely you will be included in the story. Also, the reporter could have included quotes from you, but they were removed by his or her editor.

The good news is there are a few actions you can take that could result in additional, positive coverage for your company.

1. Write a letter to the editor. Writing a letter to the editor allows you to clearly state your point about the article in your own words. If the topic or story is controversial enough, you have a pretty good opportunity of getting your letter to the editor published.

However, do not attack the reporter or the publication directly. This will not help your brand image and usually will not be printed. Rather explain constructively why you disagree with the story using solid points.

2. Contact the reporter and explain why you disagree with the story. Again, provide beneficial and concrete feedback. If you have enough good information to share with the reporter, he or she just might write a follow-up story.

The bottom line is feel free to share your feedback with the publication and reporter, but do it in a professional way that does not burn bridges.

Need support with publicity and media relations? Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.

Landing Media Coverage When You Have No News

How do you achieve media coverage when you have no news to share?

By Jennifer Manocchio

Certainly launching a new product or service easily lends itself to contacting the media; however, you do not need to have “news” to get media coverage. Furthermore, you can continue to get media coverage on products and services that are not “new”.

For discussion purpose, let’s say your goal is to increase awareness for a product you launched years ago because it is not meeting sales goals. You cannot send a press release to the media because it is not “new”, unless of course you enhanced the product. What you can do is create a media pitch that includes a reference to your product.

You’ll need to be careful with this approach because if you simply write an advertisement, the media is not going to be interested. Rather, you need to provide valuable information the media sees as useful for its readers.

For example, if your product makes cleaning the kitchen easier, create tips on easy clean up after holiday cooking. But avoid focusing all the tips on your company or products so it doesn’t read like an ad. Also, be sure to attribute those tips to a company spokesperson or expert.

Another approach is to tie your product into timely events or news. For example, is your product perfect for holiday gift guides? Is it useful for people traveling during the holiday season? Does it help consumers achieve health and fitness goals that are common New Year’s resolutions? The more timely and less “evergreen” your pitch is the more likely your product will achieve media coverage sooner rather than later.

The bottom line is don’t stop conducting publicity and media relations just because you have no news. Be creative and consistent. Achieving media coverage helps build brands and increase brand awareness, but this requires more than one big media push a year.

Need help conducting publicity and media relations? Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.

10 Ways to Increase Online Video Views

We recently shot short educational videos on a hot topic in our industry. How can we utilize these videos online?

By Jennifer Manocchio

Online video is a great marketing tool and has many benefits from search engine optimization to brand building and increasing sales. However, “if you build it they will come” isn’t necessarily true for online video. You need to drive traffic to the video in order to achieve results.

Assuming your video has good, relevant content, following are 10 ways to increase traffic to your video online.

• Post the video on video sharing sites and your website. Ensure the video is optimized so it has the potential to start appearing in search results. Inc. magazine has a good article about optimizing video. You can find it here: http://www.inc.com/guides/2010/05/search-engine-optimization-for-video.html
• If you can determine a news angle for your video, develop a news release about the video or a news release where the video can support the content (e.g. product instructions, product performance tips) and distribute the release and video through news distribution channels like Business Wire or PR Newswire. If the video is non-promotional, send the news release with the video link to your media list and encourage media to use the video.
• Post the video on your blog. If you have multiple videos, post one video per week.
• Post the video on your Facebook page. If you have multiple videos, post one video per week.
• Post a link on Twitter to your Facbook page, blog, website or YouTube Channel promoting the video. Again, post one per week if you have multiple videos.
• Incorporate the video into current or new email marketing campaigns (promotional emails, e-newsletters, etc.).
• Share the video with your sales force and all employees.
• Share the video with bloggers.
• If the video content correlates with speaking engagements, use it to promote speaking opportunities. If you receive the attendee list for a trade show or conference, you can email a link of a video to increase attendance at the presentation.
• If the video content correlates with sales or educational presentations, include the video in the presentations and provide a website address where the audience can find more relevant videos.

Have video and want to promote it or would like to start using video as a marketing strategy? Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.

Choosing the Right Marketing/Public Relations Agency

We are looking for a new public relations agency in 2011.  What should we consider when conducting the search?

By Jim Sweeney

At the end of the day, every organization wants the same thing from its agency: results. Of course every agency will tell you they deliver results.

So what are the tangibles and intangibles that assure you are working with a product marketing and public relations firm that will deliver the results you want?

1. Experience, which also equals endurance. To last more than a few years in the highly competitive world of agency marketing, you need to consistently deliver results. But what type of experience do you look for? Simply put, the type that is most relevant for your organization.

Does the agency have experience in your industry? Does it possess relevant market experience? Does it know your customers and retailers and vendors and third-party influentials? Does it have experience developing and implementing the types of strategies and tactics you need to succeed – both traditional and digital? Can it offer proof – show you case studies and work samples and offer testimonials and references? Is the agency willing to work with you and other agencies – setting aside egos and profit motives?

Experience isn’t everything, but it definitely matters.

2. Edge, which also equals X-factor. Every agency likely possesses some magic formula – a unique brand skill – that sets it apart from its competitors. Not hyperbole or idioms or acronyms, but real, tangible skills. What’s the edge you are looking for, and does the agency you are talking to possess it?

Does the agency possess unique knowledge of your industry that goes way beyond general industry experience? Does the agency have a reputation for working fast or hard or both? Does the agency have a special ability to find and process information that gives your organization an edge? Does the agency have mad creative skills and/or exceptional strategic planning skills?

Can they offer offline and online services and integrate them to complement each other?

Assuming the agencies you like have the right experience, their unique edge should help you to identify frontrunners.

3. Tenacity, which also equals persistence. Marketing is not for the meek of heart. Does the agency possess the desire and ability and willingness to fight the good fight until it is over? At the first sign of a problem, do they identify alternate solutions or look for the back door?

Does the agency go the extra mile… regardless of whether it is requested? Does the agency push through the standard resistance in order to achieve the desired goals? Do they routinely monitor and measure and analyze results and make necessary adjustments? Does the agency take pride in its work and results – do they own it – before you even review and assess it?

Remember, winners never quit.