Five Ideas For Great Publicity

Angela Townsend is Manager, New Ventures for Hanes Printables and can be reached at Angela.Townsend@slkp.com.

One of the most cost-effective and credible ways for a small business to build and maintain a high level of name awareness is not by advertising or another form of paid-for promotion, but through the use of publicity.

Publicity involves the securing of free “air space” in newspapers, magazines, trade journals, public speaking forums, radio, television, or word-of-mouth for the specific purpose of building company/product name awareness in the marketplace. This article offers five ideas for generating publicity for your company.

SEND OUT NEWS RELEASES

Has your company recently won a big export order, achieved record profits or sales figures, hired new staff or built an office extension? If so, why not turn it into a publicity opportunity by sending out a news release? If it’s news, then there’s a good chance it will be printed or get some air time.

When writing a news release, there are a few important points to keep in mind. First, it’s crucial that you use an eye-catching headline, which makes your story subject matter appear news-like. Second, readability is all-important, so keep it short and use double-spacing with wide margins. Whenever possible, include a photograph, because to the media, a picture is worth a thousand words! Third, in the main body of the text, give full facts. Close with a brief description of your company’s services, and contact information.

CREATE AN AWARD

Through creating a prestigious award bearing your company’s name in recognition for a top student at your local university, you’ll boost your company’s credibility, and create some publicity, too. Here’s how to go about it.

Donate an award to the top student taking a degree course in a subject area that’s related in some way to your business, and let the professor decide who deserves the award.

Most importantly, make it a prestigious-sounding award comprising a cash prize together with a specially designed certificate or plaque. Contact the press at the outset, and then at every prize-giving ceremony, so you can maximize its publicity value to the mutual benefit of all parties: your company, the university and the student. This same idea could work for military service and heroic acts by police and firemen. Publicize the event with a news release!

USE PRODUCT PLACEMENTS

Use product placements to get attention. If you’re an awards shop, consider donating awards in exchange for free publicity at canine, feline or equestrian events (or pick a hundred other hobbies). People involved in these types of competitions are devoted to the hobby and are great targets for an awards retailer.

What’s important here is to generate new business: Ask to sell products at the event for free. TIP: If you sell products at an event, ask the organizers for exclusivity in your category meaning no other company can sell competing products at the event. If it’s not possible to sell at the event, negotiate passing out professionally designed flyers of your company’s services and a compelling offer for first-time customers. Write a press release summarizing the winners and your company’s participation.

BE A GOOD CORPORATE CITIZEN

Individual donations to charities decrease in poor economic conditions; select an organization to sponsor with either a one-time or monthly donation. Ask that your company be recognized in the organization’s registry of supporters, and ask if they have a certificate of appreciation to display at your place of business.

Charities like Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity and Big Brothers/Big Sisters can provide table-top displays which publicize your company’s support. For maximum publicity, combine this idea with the following one.

ORGANIZE A FUNDRAISER

If you’re a sublimation shop, this could be as simple as creating a raffle for a beautiful tile mural (retail value $300!). Create a professional-looking display recognizing the charity that will benefit from the fundraiser. (Invite the press to be present at the drawing, and follow-up with a press release.) This idea generates a list of potential customers. Send each person who enters a full-color keychain (or pen, bookmark, etc.) and the flyer of your services. Offer something free with first purchase and be as generous as possible with the offer your objective is to get them through the door!