Well I would hope I know a teeny bit about publicity. I get it for myself and clients and try to help others do it themselves to cut cost. Well today, I’ll just provide a few tips on how to get publicity and how to use it as part of your overall outreach strategy.

First things first, be great. It’s really hard to bring positive attention to a wack product or service. It’s one thing if you think its great but another if you provide real value to others or are working to develop something that will. Work to make sure that what you have does or will do great things.

Compose a press release and/or full on media kit. A press release or news release is a non-advertorial announcement or article about an event, product, or person and their news. It should answer who, what, when, where, why and how all concisely and with a headline and lead paragraph that packs a punch and nails the gist of entire release in an accurate and appealing way. A media kit will contain a press release (or two), photographs of the product or talent, FAQs or Fact Sheet, bios, and previous news clippings. There are variations on what to include in a media kit but the goal should be to provide a journalist with everything they need to write about you. Research other brands media kits and press releases or templates for formatting and ideas on what to include.

Create a media list. Bacon’s, Vocus and numerous other sites have listings of media outlets and editors contact information. Pick a few choice outlets and compile their data into a spreadsheet. These should include outlet, type of media, topics they cover, the editor name and all contact information, deadlines and publishing schedules. This way you get your news to the right person at the right time. Nurture and build this list and update it often to make sure your always sending information to the right person.

Pitch the media. This is where you attempt to get people to write about your news. Pitching much about news-worthiness, relationships, and serving the journalists needs. They need news but your pitch should be geared toward serving their readers and providing the kinds of content they normally write about. Researching editors and journalists ahead of time and their columns and possibly even asking them for coffee just to build the relationship is a great start. When you have a great story, email (preferably, unless social media or phone pitching is preferred) a story idea in a creative and attention grabbing way. Angle the pitch appealingly. Do most of the work for them so they don’t have to think much to write your story. Follow up if necessary but don’t be a pest.

Track your placements. The cheapests way to track your hits online is using Google Alerts. Set up an alert to notify you whenever your keywords (article title, brand name, etc) comes up. The best way to monitor media, though pricey is to contract out a media monitoring service. Vocus offers this service and for social media Radian6 can help but there are numerous others you can use. If you’re looking to monitor traditional media, you’ll need a news clipping service.

Much of the information here has been intimidating for some, even me, but the key is to try and practice until you get better at getting your news out and telling a great story about you, your product or service. Sometimes you can get publicity just by being at the right place at the right time. However, don’t leave it to chance to get the word out about your news.

Research Ragan’s, LinkedIn groups, and other trade publications about journalism, PR, and marketing. If you know some journalist or PR professionally, talk to them directly for pointers. Then, go for it!

You can do it. There are wrong ways but you’ll focus on doing it right. The good thing is getting publicity is an ongoing process so you’ll have ample time to improve. Now, go get your name in the papers!

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