Five publicity tips for business

Businesses often build a marketing strategy, but there is one arm they frequently forget: publicity. Publicity, or public relations, can be as valuable to you as anything else. Maybe more, because it’s free! Here are five tips to get you started.

1. Build a publicity database and communicate with your list wisely

A good publicity database, or list, is comprised of journalists, publications, and others in your industry. It needs some careful thought, and it takes time to build. Find the news distributors, journals, newsletters, or other publications that you think will be interested in what you have to say.

Emailing your list is a great idea. But make sure you comply with the Spam Act before you cold-​email people. If you are unsure, find a phone number call your contacts for a chat first. It’s a good way to start building rapport, and enables you to get permission to mail them, if you have to.

KEY TIP: always use the ‘BCC’ field in emails to your publicity list. Sharing hundreds of addresses is bad news.

2. Practise writing headlines

Whether you are writing media releases, media emails, or blogs, your headline is vital. The best headlines are seven words or less.

The key to writing a great headline is to finalise your copy first. What you want is a very short line that is catchy, that summarises what you have to say, and that will make people read on.

I won’t lie to you: it is the most difficult part of any publicity writing. It is also the part that will take you the longest.

KEY TIP: Practise, practise, practise! Also, keep copies of headlines that you feel work really well. Imitation is often a great way to learn to write.

3. A personal style works best…

… But in a different way in a press release.

When you write emails to your list, make them warm and inviting and personal. Wherever possible, include your media contact’s name in the greeting! It takes a little bit longer if you don’t have an email mail-​merge, but it goes a long way. Bulk emails are often deleted.

When you write blogs, be yourself. This also goes for any social network content.

But when you write press releases, a ‘third person’ style is best. Your personal touch here comes through the quotes that you include. Think hard about how you want to be presented and what your quotes say about you.

KEY TIP: Think about what you are writing and how best to present it. Each format needs a slightly different touch.

4. Remember your goals

When you start to plan your publicity strategy, think hard about your goals. Everything you write must move you, somehow, towards those goals. It must also tie in with your ‘big picture’ marketing plans and give you some sort of return.

For example, when I started this online magazine, I had growth goals for it. Plugged into those growth goals was a publicity strategy that a) helped it to grow, and b) publicised its growth. Interestingly, (b) will always reinforce (a).

I did this through blogs, social networks, formal media releases, and warm, happy emails to acquaintances in the industry. And by always providing some sort of measure about which I was excited: 6 months alive, 12 months alive, readership growth, etc.

KEY TIP: How you write and what you write needs to underpin and support your overall strategy.

5. Say only what you have to

Keep things short and sweet. Nobody is going to read a pages-​long publicity email or press release.

  • stay on topic
  • include only information and quotes that support what you write
  • don’t worry if what you have is a simple three paragraphs.

KEY TIP: Keeping things short also means keeping them simple. Saying what you need to say in a short space is also more difficult, so get help if you struggle!

Drop me a line if you are interested in finding out how I can help you with your PR.

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