Small Business success
Free Press – An Offer You Can’t Refuse, by Nickolai Vasilieff, copyright

© 2011. All rights reserved. No reproduction or publication is authorized without written

permission by the author. Download is for personal use only.

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FREE PRESS, AN OFFER YOU CANʼT REFUSE

In my introduction toRecession Proof Marketing’ I identified several

ways you could maximize your marketing effectiveness while minimizing

your cost. In this article I will address what I consider one of the most cost

effective forms of marketing – Free Press. Like most things in life, Free

Press isn’t really free, because you have to pay to create it, but it’s as

close to free marketing as you can get, and it can produce strong results.

In this category I include

  • Press releases
  • User profiles, success stories, and other articles
  • Product reviews

These materials can be created in-house, or by hiring an experienced

professional writer, and sent out to dozens of hard-copy and online

publications. Why, you may ask, would a magazine publish your

material? Because, magazines are in business to furnish information to

their customer base, and if your information is relevant to their customers,

and well written, they want to print it. Magazines typically average

about 50% editorial and 50% advertising. That means a magazine with 50

pages will have to fill 25 of those with editorial. They don’t want to write

everything, so they use what you write. Trust me, if you produce good

copy, they will print it (emphasis on the word good). Online magazines

might be slightly different in that they may have more editorial, which

only means that they need more material from you.

So, what is good copy? It varies, depending on what your writing, but

here are some basic guidelines.

Writing in general – Your writing must use good grammar. You’re

typically writing for educated professionals who read to gain insight or

information, and they care about what they read.

Bizcom.com sites several statistics that emphasize the

importance of writing, including: “An incredible $225

billion is lost by business each year because of poor

reading, writing, and math skills.” If you want to have your work

published, use a professional writer and be sure you have someone

proofread and edit everything for grammar and punctuation before it is

sent out.

Press Releases – are intended to inform your market about significant

events related to your company or products. The subject doesn’t have to

be earth shaking, but it does have to be important to you and your

customers. It can be as simple as adding new employees or moving

offices, to as complex as a new product release. The key is to make sure

it is really news. Adding a new feature to an existing product can be

considered news. Bringing on a new client can also be considered news,

if the client is well known in your industry. But, reorganizing your office,

or making a sale to a small unknown customer is probably not news.

Another important element of press releases is how they are written. They

are not stories, they are facts. Stick to the subject and keep it short

Usually they are 2 or 3 pages at most, including company history, contact

information, and one or two photographs. They are not advertising, do not

try to sell your company or product in a press release. Finally, include

images related to the subject. Magazines like photographs. And,

proofread everything before it is sent out.

So where do you send them? Identity your industry and build a “press

release” database. Start with the hard copy and online publications that

cater to your potential clients; include your local newspapers and

business journals; make sure you include business associations and groups

that address your market; finally, if you work regionally or nationally,

include the major business publications like News Week and the Wall

Street Journal. Sound silly? Trust me, you never know when a single

statement will catch the attention of an editor and catapult you onto the

national scene. The important thing is to send your press release to all of

them. Let them decide if they want to publish your news. Send your press

releases out by email. Include pictures whenever possible, and always

provide a press contact, in case they have questions.

User Profiles or Success Stories – Throughout my career I have worked

with companies to create user stories. I do this by interviewing a

company who has used your products, then writing an interesting article

about their project. It is important to note that this is a non-fiction story

about the client, and how they used technology or some innovation to

their benefit. It is reporting with a flair. Unlike a

press release this type of writing is considered

creative non-fiction and must tell a story. It is not

an advertisement for your product, so you must

skillfully weave product information into your

story. Many companies produce articles that simply focus on how a client

used their product, and have found that magazines are not interested. The

reason is that magazines want to publish articles that enlighten their

customer base to new and innovative ways to do business, and they want

articles that tell a story.

A successful article will focus on a specific project, and include not

just the products of your company, but all the products and processes that

were used on the project. The article will also highlight the benefits to the

user, and how those benefits translate to the industry in general. In

addition to being published in industry magazines, articles can be used in

company brochures, newsletters, on your company’s website, and as

handouts or mailers.

If written well, articles are one of the best marketing tools because

they carry the weight of a customer recommendation. But be careful. If

they are not written well, they will never get published, and if a poorly

written article is published, it will do more damage to your business than

good.

I should also note that although many magazines will publish

company generated articles, some magazines will not. If you have a

specific publication you want to publish an article, contact the editor and

ask if you can submit an article for publication. If yes, than generate your

article. If no, ask if they would be interested in writing a story about your

client. As with all submission materials, always include pictures.

How do you get an article published? As I mentioned, if you have a

specific magazine in mind, contact the editor before you send the article.

If you have many publications to choose from, have the article written

and submit it with a letter of request for publication. Follow up in a week

or so to see if what you submitted was accepted, or if modifications are

required. The main point is to be pro-active. Sometimes, standing out in a

crowd just requires raising your hand. If you don’t ask, you won’t ever get

published.

Product Reviews – are often created by magazines from interest

generated by press releases. But, in some cases, a company generated

product review will prompt a publication to either print your review, or

conduct their own review, using your material as a foundation. As with

any article, it must be well written, and be proofed

thoroughly. Like a press release, a product review

must stick to the facts, and not be an ad for your

product. They should be as objective as possible and

must include both positives and negatives. Obviously you don’t want to

bash your own product, but if there are features missing or glitches in

performance, they must be noted. It is perfectly permissible to include

comments about how and when they might be added or fixed. Finally, if

this is a new release of an existing product, include a comparison chart

highlighting the new features and their benefits. If it is a new product

with significant competition, you might use a comparison chart to

highlight the product’s features. Oh, did I mention pictures? Include them

with the article.

Frankly, it’s easy to stay in business during the good times. It takes

something more than luck or good fortune to be successful during a

recession, and we are certainly in a recession. So keep marketing. Use

the tips I’ve included in this article, focus on free-press, and keep yourself

in the market. The recession won’t last forever, and if you maintain your

marketing efforts you will fare better than your competitors during the

Free Press – An Offer You Can’t Refuse, by Nickolai Vasilieff, copyright

© 2011. All rights reserved. No reproduction or publication is authorized without written

permission by the author. Download is for personal use only.

recession. When the economy picks up, you will be the first company

your customers and future customers contact when they need your type of

product or service.

For PR and article samples, or more information visit my website at

Vasilieff Consulting www.vasilieff.com. If I can be of assistance in any way, please contact

me at nick@vasilieff.com or my representative at Third Party

International, Inc. Cheryl Teigen at cherylt@thirdpartyintl.com 800-417-

8909.

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