I met a fellow once while working in New York City who ran his own show on cable television — his very own cable show! Cable and community television stations are wonderful mediums to get the word out effectively. This is an area in which you can get a lot of publicity at little or no cost.
My friend, a programmer, hosts a show called “Solution Sentral” on which he is either being interviewed or playing the role of interviewer. His guests ranged from employers looking for specialized technical staff to other consultants in similar areas. The show naturally appealed to the high tech sector.
He also takes calls on the show and has an real-time, live email format where people can ask questions online, to which he'll answer directly on the air. But keep in mind that the show is not meant to advertise him directly — if so, the station would charge him for it — but as a public service.
Publicity is different than advertising. But the idea behind publicity is not to market your business or product (or at least not directly). Your goal is to get yourself known and known as an expert in your field. There are many ways to get publicity out there let alone free publicity. But why is it so important?
Publicity is far more credible than advertising, since it comes from an “objective” third party. If you have narrowed your focus to a very specific, highly specialized field, publicity will come easy to you. The media loves to receive information from people who are uniquely qualified in their specialty.
Do you write articles for your local newspaper or in the very least in the op-ed section? Do you send news releases to all the TV, newspaper, and radio stations in at least your area? Do you offer free seminars during fundraisers for non-profit or not-for-profit organizations? Do you offer to speak at luncheons, clubs, and organizations such as the Rotary? Do you offer free services to charities or sponsor community projects? The list goes on.
A hair transplant doctor sent out press releases to all the TV stations and offered to perform surgery live on the air as part of a medical documentary. With the patient's consent, cameramen filmed the doctor performing the procedure and the news reporter occasionally asked questions, such as: “What exactly are you doing now, doctor?” Or, “What's this for?”
But he didn't stop there. Not only did the news report cause his practice to get flooded with calls the next day, but the doctor also obtained the right to mass-copy the news report on videotapes, and mailed them as part of his information package to potential patients and referral-sources.
The show created a lot of “buzz” and the surgery was the talk of the town. I don't know if he actually did this, but if I were in his shoes I would have the tape digitized and available to be played on the web. People accessing his web site can view the clip right in their own homes.
Some people I know have their interviews, speeches or voices digitized and plug it on the ‘Net as well. Of course, everybody can do that. But if you're not on the web, yet have a copy of a TV or radio interview on video or audio cassette, get the rights to copy it and send it to everybody who wants one, including potential referral-sources and strategic alliances.
A temporary help agency specializing in government support personnel had a neat idea. Their clients are mostly purchasing agents and, one year, a golf tournament was being held for (believe or not) government purchasing agents! (It was to raise money for a charitable foundation.) The tournament was held in the middle of summer and it happened to be a hot day.
So the salesperson, wearing a T-shirt bearing their 1-800 phone number, rented a golf cart and loaded it up with coolers containing soft drinks. He drove his cart from hole to hole and offered free drinks to all the golfers in the tournament! In addition to the exposure this gave him, he was also given a chance to speak at the awards ceremony and mingle with the crowd.
If you're an expert (and by specializing, you are), get out-and-about and make yourself known as one. For example, I know of an insurance agent who decided to specialize in life insurance for newlyweds and new families.
His company didn't require it from him but he decided on his own to develop an expertise in this area. You'll often find him at bridal fairs, bridal shows, home-buyers seminars, home furnishing stores, banks, mortgage institutions, toy stores, baby clothing stores, car dealerships and so on.
Now, for a typical insurance agent to do this kind of stuff may or may not be a waste of time. (It likely is.) But how much more effective will he be if he promotes himself at those events or locations as an insurance agent strictly catering to new couples and new families? Yup. Much more.
Do you have your free report written by now? If so, then write a query letter to magazines and newspapers for an article you wish to contribute. If you don't know, a query letter is one in which you address the editor and propose a topic, on which you have an expertise, for an interesting article.
Ensure that the headline of your query grabs their attention and makes them want to read it. Make your article somehow related to your free report, too. Explain how your article will benefit their readers. Give them a brief outline of your article along with a summary of your free report as “tickler.”
Don't forget to include in your query that you're not seeking any type of compensation (at least not now), but ask if you can add a byline. A byline is a small note at the end of your article describing the author and how he can be reached. Send the same letter to as many newspapers as you can, especially specialized publications read by your target market.
By the way, always ask for publishing rights so that the paper doesn't prevent you from having your article published elsewhere. Above all, make sure that your query addresses how your articles will benefit THEIR readers. Keep in mind that the readers of a specialized publication are potential clients!
Now, write! While your article should be educational and not promotional, it may contain some highlights of your free report as a way to further educate the reader. Your byline can and should invite people to order it. It can say:
“The author, Michel Fortin is the ‘Success Doctor', a direct response copywriter, speaker and marketing consultant, who specializes in web copywriting. If you wish to learn more about the ideas written in this article, you can obtain a free copy of the complete report, ‘The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning', by calling him [number], or by visiting his website at SuccessDoctor.com. You can also email him at…”
Since your articles do not appear blatantly promotional, they help market your expertise subtly yet far more effectively, and as a result carry far more weight than any self-serving advertisement. They grant you almost instant and a much greater credibility because, like publicity, which comes from an objective third party, they imply your superiority rather than state it outright.
And since implication is more powerful than specification, publicity will help to solidify your leadership in the mind, and do so faster, more effectively and for a longer period of time than any other form of promotion.
There's an old saying, in the insurance industry, that goes: “Talk good about me or talk bad about me. But either way, please talk about me!” So, get out and about! Get others to know you and talk about you.