Joan Stewart

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Top 10 tips by The Publicity Hound, Joan Stewart.

Top Ten Free Publicity Tips

They're referred to as Publicity Hounds and I'll bet you know at least one.

They're the people smiling back at you from color photos that accompany their profile story in the morning paper. Turn on the radio and there they are again, chatting away on a local talk show. Two months later, they show up on the cover of your trade journal. Then they're being interviewed on the 11 o'clock news. While you're buying expensive advertising to deliver your message, they're doing it for free.

During my 22 years as a newspaper editor and reporter, I have seen well-meaning people fail repeatedly in their attempts to beg and cajole the media to pay attention to them. That's because media relations is a sophisticated game with its own etiquette, protocol and rules. Today, as a media relations consultant, professional speaker and ezine publisher, I teach people how to create free publicity to sell a product or service, champion a cause, create an image and establish their expertise.

Here are my Top 10 tips for free publicity:

  1. Send news releases about new products and services, contests, awards, open houses, speaking engagements.

  2. Write how-to articles for newspapers, magazines, trade publications and newsletters, and offer lots of free advice. It helps establish you as an expert.

  3. Get onto the speaking circuit. Speaking to community groups and trade associations is a wonderful way to "create the buzz" about your business.

  4. Create a web site that offers free advice, reciprocal links, articles by and about you, story ideas about your business, an electronic media kit, and a list of experts the media can contact.

  5. Start an e-zine. A free electronic newsletter helps you sell your products and services to an international audience and costs almost nothing compared to expensive direct mail campaigns. With permission, you can send the ezine to reporters who cover your industry.

  6. Get to know reporters. Offer yourself as someone they can call on for background, commentary and story ideas. Call and ask, "How can I help you?"

  7. Start your own TV show on your local cable TV company's public access channel. Air time is free. You pay a minimal amount to rent the camera equipment.

  8. Look for photo opportunities. Local newspapers, TV stations, weekly shoppers, trade publications and other media are always looking for interesting photos. Call the media with ideas, or submit your own photos.

  9. Give free classes and demonstrations through adult ed programs, at schools and colleges, or at your own business. Invite the media to attend.

  10. Participate in online discussion groups and offer lots of helpful advice. Reporters lurk here, and if they're impressed with your messages, they might contact you for a story. Use a signature file in your e-mail that explains what you do and how you can help solve people's problems. Link to your web site.

Above all, be patient and persistent. The key to savvy media relations is understanding how to dovetail your wants and needs with those of the media.

Joan Stewart, a.k.a. The Publicity Hound, shows you how to use the media to establish your credibility, enhance your reputation, sell more products and services, promote a favorite cause or issue, and position yourself as an employer of choice. She is a former newspaper editor and reporter who shares the inside secrets of how to create and develop strong relationships with the print, broadcast and online media. Subscribe to her free ezine, "The Publicity Hound's Tips of the Week," at www.publicityhound.com.

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